Militarizing police is inevitable

Law enforcement tools, including officers’ equipment, must be able to match up to the threats.

by Jasper Johnson

Between recent high-profile terrorist cases and unjustified murder at the hands of police, many are asking the question, “How should we arm law enforcement officers?”

The White House is currently revisiting its stance on police equipment, and if a previous ban is reversed, police forces would regain access to military-grade gear from the U.S. Armed Forces. I stand in defense of police having access to equipment that most would consider “militarized,” including body armor, armored vehicles and stun grenades. 

Like it or not, times have changed, and law enforcement agencies are up against surprisingly well-equipped criminals. During the rise of organized crime in the early 20th century when gangsters had powerful weaponry, revolver-toting law enforcement acquired advanced weaponry to confront the changing landscape of crime. The same thing happened following the infamous 1986 and 1997 shootouts in Miami and North Hollywood, respectively. 

Police officers need not make traffic stops in tanks, nor do they need to ticket jaywalkers in riot gear. Simply put, officers need access to more robust, military-grade equipment in times of crises — like active shootings and acts of terrorism.

That being said, police need to undergo far more training to be proficient with the advanced gear.

The idea of having unarmed police is antiquated. And to those who point to European countries as an example of successes in unarmed policing, it’s worth noting that many countries in the wake of terroristic acts are reevaluating their gun rules for officers.  

Dealing with modern threats requires the most apt — and that often means “military style” — gear.