On Tuesday, April 30th, the courts finally convicted the Minneapolis police officer who killed Justine Ruszczyk. After a month-long trial, the shooter, a jury convicted “Mr. Noor” on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter. These together carry a maximum sentence of around 35 years, but he will likely not receive it.
Convictions of this nature are increasingly uncommon. The Ruszczyk murder was free of video or audio evidence, which is even rarer. But even in cases where there is ample evidence against the police officer in question, a conviction is not a guarantee. The fact this was such a rare and impressive occurrence is a problem in and of itself. It is symptomatic that the American police force is becoming more and more militarized. It is elevating law enforcement above the law.
Police and Military Violence Statistics
The statistics are where it begins. Many cops are ex-military, and police departments seek out veterans as officers and say they make “great cops”. Police officers were found to have a 40% rate of committing domestic violence. This is half the military’s nearly 80% domestic violence rate among those with PTSD. What contributes to this is first, a propensity to violence which precedes joining both of these groups, but also the trauma that follows the job description. This is not a problem either the military or the police force want to fix. Rather, when Bob Mullally leaked LAPD personnel files involving cops with horrible records, they sued him. Reportedly, “none of the police officers he exposed were ever prosecuted for their crimes.” No one ever even took it to court.
The military, which is more involved with family life than the police force and is more at risk, completely turns a blind eye to its domestic abuse problem.
Around 50% of veterans own some sort of firearm. Most of these are handguns and the cited reason for ownership is “protection”. This is in contrast with Americans on average owning firearms for a variety of different reasons. Now, protection is a perfectly valid reason to own a gun. It is, in fact, one of the most important reasons why the right to own a gun is so important. Police officers in America are vastly more likely to own a firearm as it comes with the territory. The presence of a firearm in a domestic violence situation automatically escalates it.
The Demographics and Mental Health of Veterans and Cops
Aside from the types and frequency of crimes committed by the military and police force, they share significant demographic similarities. Men comprise 80% of the military and 86% of the police force. Around 70-80% of military members are white. This is in comparison to about 77% of police officers. Police officers and members of the military share another key thing in common– mental health. Between active member military and veterans combined, they experience depression at a rate five times that of the general public. Police officers experience depression twice that of the general population and that number is only on the rise. Substance abuse is about the same within the police force and the military– 10%.
This substance abuse and mental health problem need to be a top priority in both the police and military forces. The inherent violence, mental illness, and the fact these issues mostly impact men in these fields is a toxic combination. Depression manifests in men much differently than in women. Mainly, the result is anger, violence, and tragically, often suicide. This shows itself in spousal and child abuse statistics, but it also shows itself in the field. Cops who are ex-military have been shown to be less hesitant in firing their weapons. They are more flighty and anxious in the field. A common excuse for police violence is that the officer in question was “afraid for his life”. Considering these statistics, it starts to make sense as to why a wallet would be so frightening.
The Impact of Ex-Military Officers on the Police Force
This culture of “shoot now, ask questions later” which permeates the military, is infecting the police force. Contrary to what many people believe, the ex-military presence in the police isn’t bringing some sort of honor or a higher quality of “protection” to the force. Rather, it’s bringing a more militant style to policing. From more frequent use of riot gear in standard practice to SWAT teams on 24-hour call in mid-sized towns to police officers using military tactics in property seizure, the police force is looking more like the military every day.
There is some impression that the American military force overseas is some sort of peace-bringing entity. It actually isn’t, in any capacity. Indeed, the U.S. military commits horrific acts of violence in foreign nations all the time on an individual level. As a whole, regime change wars ravage developing countries and hurt the people within. This is despite the regime changes supposedly having good intentions. The military is equipped to be more dangerous because they are fighting more dangerous people. Dozens of men with machine guns turn out to be harder to fight than a single low-level drug dealer.
Police departments in major cities are implementing military training in firearm usage, and military drone programs. They have acquired armored vehicles and military aircraft. Their uniforms are creeping closer and closer to simply a black and blue version of battlefield armor. The Department of Defense is only expanding this problem. “Police militarization” is generally known to denote “process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model.” This includes the adoption of military equipment, tactics, culture, and operative strategies. Knowing this, it’s impossible to deny that the American police force is, and is becoming more militarized.
Militarization Turns to a Military State
The end result of all this is a citizenry that doesn’t trust their police. It’s a budget wasted and hyper-evolution of criminals. And, it’s even further propagated state oppression. If we were to see people wearing our military uniform, rounding up peaceful protesters, mistaking phones for handguns, or shooting people’s dogs, there would be insane uproar. Obviously, that uproar would be completely warranted as posting military regularly in public spaces is known as an occupation.
Excusing the problems and immoralities that already exist with the systems of the military and police force, this militarization is a problem that’s only getting worse. It is a danger to criminals and it is a danger to the innocent. Criminals, even those who have violated the rights of others, do not deserve excessive mistreatment– the innocent even less so. No one deserves to be afraid in their own city of the people who they think should protect them. There is no nation in which militarized law enforcement will do any significant and costless good. The end result of this untouchable-ness, of this lawlessness, and militarization, will eventually be a full-fledged military state.
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