A webcast on the national debate around law enforcement.
For decades, the United States has advocated for other countries to demilitarize its civilian police forces and made the case that it was an important step toward promoting safe and stable communities abroad. At the same time, here at home, American police forces grew the size and budgets of their paramilitary units (or SWAT teams). The lethality of these forces was augmented by the Department of Defense, which provided local law enforcement agencies with a dizzying array of military-grade hardware. As it stands, over $6 billion in military equipment has been distributed to local police departments, including MRAPS, Humvees, aircraft, night vision, and high powered rifles. What’s more, the adoption of military-style tactics and training by some police forces has further blurred the line between law enforcement and defense.
What impact has the increasing militarization of American policing had on public safety and public trust? What has driven this trend? How does it fit into our current national debate around law enforcement? And what can we learn from our own experiences abroad?
Erroll Southers, Director, Safe Communities Institute, University of Southern California
Erroll Southers is an internationally recognized expert on counterterrorism, public safety, infrastructure protection, and homeland security. He is the Director of the Safe Communities Institute at the University of Southern California, where he is also a Professor of the Practice in National & Homeland Security. Read more.