Police are not and should not be soldiers

Printed in the Herald-Times, March 12, 2018.

To the Editor:

Police are not soldiers, and should not have a soldier’s mentality. Do not militarize our police.

The purchase of a “BearCat” armored vehicle, while sprung on this community with little debate prior to the purchase, is not a complete surprise. After all, the city wanted a Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) military vehicle a few years ago, which I opposed as a candidate for city council in 2015. I find it a little dubious that Bloomington wanted the “least militaristic” option, given the request for an MRAP that was denied.

The fear-mongering about violent crime simply does not meet the crime statistics. There were 24,530 murders, 106,010 rapes and 659,870 robberies in 1993. In 2017, there were 17,250 murders, 95,730 rapes and 332,198 robberies, despite a significantly higher population. (The data is compiled by DisasterCenter.com from FBI crime reports.) We are safer than we used to be. Police officers are also safer, as Radley Balko of the Washington Post has documented.

Why can the city not use an armored bank truck like they had from 2001 onward? If the concern is that the armor would not withstand high-powered rifles, why not have a bank truck custom built with heavier armor?

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