The events in Ferguson Missouri have me thinking about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his infamous “Midnight Crew.” While much has been made about the militarization of the police regarding body armor and Humvees, not so much has been said about what certainly can be seen as a shared mentality, even identity, between the soldier and the police officer. Burge brought the Phoenix Program from Vietnam to Chicago and tortured people (black men of course) freely for decades. Certainly this was a militarization of the police.
A couple years ago the Obama Administration made a conscious effort to get war veterans into police uniforms. For the first time since its creation the Justice Department’s grant program “Community Oriented Policing Services,” or COPS, (one wonders how long it took them to come up with words that fit the acronym) required cities to hire only veterans with the federal money. Just like Black Hawk helicopters, we have a bunch of them and have no clue what to do with them. With the Department of Veterans Affairs in shambles, it is easier to give them the same weapons with a new uniform, and a new enemy.
In a paper done by the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control specifically dealing with the question of war veterans going into law enforcement after PTSD diagnoses, it was concluded “PTSD is not generally an automatic disqualification for employment with law enforcement agencies.” Furthermore, “several agencies, including the Seattle Police Department and California Department of Forestry, stated that they had hired individuals with histories of PTSD, although most agencies alluded that they had as well.”
People fighting in unnecessary wars overseas come back to find the only marketable skills they have are put to use fighting unnecessary wars at home. Our industrial complexes, both prison and military, aren’t so far apart.