Opinion: Police state of mind

Ostensibly because of the enormous U.S. investment in military gear during these past many years to support wars in the Middle East, many municipal police forces are flush with all matter of equipment designed to do many things but likely not to “serve and protect.” As the soldierly surplus is repatriated, it is deployed to awaiting communities. But, is an armored personnel carrier required gear to keep our homes and families safe?

Even as riots are winding down in other Midwestern states following claims of police brutality and zealousness, pundits and community organizers alike are calling for federal oversight of local police authority. Has the thin blue like fattened-up with age? Is it time for a diet? Should we work to control and out-of-control government force by giving even more power to another government force?

But before we take the guns away from Officer Friendly and call in the Calvary, is the concern misplaced? Public safety officials face an unprecedented rise in amoral and even ruthless behavior from criminals. Random individuals open fire on busy streets because some passerby dared bump them on a crowded sidewalk. And, veteran officers are murdered in cold blood when responding to a seemingly routine domestic call.

Certainly, government authority must be constrained. The founders expended buckets of ink to warn their progeny of the risks of an endlessly expanding central state. But, is a better equipped and armed police authority a necessary response to an increasingly violent and remorseless felonious element? Can there be an alternative?

As citizens do we fear an increasingly paramilitary state more than an increasingly lawless citizenry? The dichotomy is not a new one. Yet can there be a winner in the ever accelerating arms race between the good guys and bad? Maybe it is just a state of mind.