Friday, June 26, 2020

How You Gone Demilitarize All These Ex-Military On The Dole As Police?


counterpunch |  Calls for de-militarization of law enforcement have gained new momentum in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality. That process won’t be easy in a nation where nearly one fifth of all cops are military veterans — including Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s killer in Minneapolis and Robert McCabe, one of two officers charged with felony assault for knocking down a 75-year-old protester in Buffalo.

When loaded down with cast-off Pentagon gear, police officers from any background are more likely to regard peaceful protestors as enemy combatants, particularly when the Pentagon’s own top official refers to their protest scenes as “battle space.” But studies show that employing people with experience in war zones abroad has not been a boon to “community policing” either. Getting police departments to stop acting like an occupying army will require many fundamental changes, including much closer screening of job applicants who are veterans and ending their preferential hiring treatment.

Policing is currently the third most common occupation for men and women who have served in the military. It is an option widely encouraged by career counsellors and veterans’ organizations like the American Legion.  As a result, several hundred thousand veterans are now wearing a badge of some sort. Although veterans comprise just 6 percent of the US population, they represent 19 percent of all law enforcement personnel.

This disproportionate representation is due, in part, to preferential hiring requirements, mandated by state or federal law. In addition, under the Obama Administration, the Department of Justice provided local police departments with tens of millions of dollars to fund veterans-only positions.

As noted [EF1] by the Marshall Project, in its 2017 report, “When Warriors Put On the Badge,” this combination of hiring preferences and special funding has made it harder to “build police forces that resemble and understand diverse communities.” The beneficiaries have been disproportionately white, because 60 percent of all enlisted men and women are not people of color.