Monday, May 17, 2010

Hearts and Minds

I don't like the trend of militarizing our police. I never have. The use of a bomb by Philadelphia police to knock out a MOVE compound 25 years ago outraged me at the time. The trend is only getting worse. There are too many grants to create too many SWAT teams in too many places that will never see a Colombian drug gang march into town.

We aren't at war with our people and we don't need para-military police to pacify our cities. Our military, in contrast, operates under very restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan. We even apologize when we accidentally kill an innocent civilian in Afghanistan during combat operations. As Instapundit notes, I guess we don't care about winning hearts and minds here.

Will there be any apology for killing an innocent 7-year-old girl in a mistaken police raid in Detroit?  Aiyana Jones won't grow up now. And her parents won't be able to raise her. Yes, this hits me especially hard because I know the complete joy of having a bright-eyed seven year old daughter in my life. The thought of her future being snuffed out, the way Aiyana's life was unjustly ended, is beyond the capacity of my heart to accept. It should be beyond our society's capacity to accept.

Our police are not fighting a counter-insurgency in Detroit--or anywhere else in this country. This madness needs to end.

UPDATE: Thank you to The Unreligious Right for the link.

I'm not trying to get into whether the police were justified or unjustified in this raid. Nor am I commenting on the actual raid and whether it was carried out correctly. The whole approach of our police is wrong:

Christopher Cooper of the National Black Police Association, who was a Washington, D.C., police officer for 10 years, said the presence of the TV film crew likely didn't make a difference.

He blamed the tragedy on what he said is the increasing militarization of police forces.

"Aiyana Jones is dead because of a trend toward the militarization of police agencies," Cooper said. "They're purchasing tanks, and acting like they are in a war zone.

"I've been on that porch, executing search warrants in some of the most dangerous communities in the country, and I'm telling you, if I know there are children in that house, I'm prepared to abort the mission."

"When I realize there are children in that house, I do not throw any grenade."

There were toys strewn throughout the front yard of the two-family flat, and a relative said he told police there were children inside.

There were four children living there, along with six adults, relatives said.

The point is that we've militarized our police and this is a trend that will lead to "collateral damage," including innocent little girls dying during a raid. What is regrettably necessary in a war is an outrage in peacetime police work. It is no less wrong because such a raid is unlikely to ever take place in my neighborhood.