Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is calling for demilitarization of America’s local police forces in the wake of the heavily armed response to the protests in Ferguson, Mo.
Paul, who is laying the groundwork for a presidential run, wrote in an Op-Ed published Thursday in Time that the Ferguson response looks more like war than a police action.
“Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies—where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.”
He cited a Heritage Foundation report on federal anti-terrorism grants buying armored vehicles, armor, and heavy weapons for local cops.
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“When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury—national security letters, no-knock searches, broad general warrants, pre-conviction forfeiture—we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands,” Paul wrote.
Paul has been reaching out to minorities as he explores a run for president in 2016 and his Op-Ed brings up the issue of race and law enforcement.
“Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them...Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention,” Paul wrote.