24 March, 17:58

Violent Crime in US Down, No Thanks to Bloated Police Forces

By David Kerans

WASHINGTON (VR) — The cult of police excess in the U.S. is no secret. What is less well known is the rapid swelling of police forces over the last twenty years, a swelling that continues unabated. The manpower in U.S. police forces shot from 600,000 in 1992 to 800,000 twenty years later, even as the incidence of violent crime was sinking. And lest anyone rush to connect the increase in policing with the drop in crime, criminologists have ruled this connection out: shrinking rates of violent crime stem from other causes, including the gradual aging of the U.S. population.

For insight into the wasteful and dangerous burgeoning of police forces, Radio VR’s David Kerans spoke with Paul Ashton of the Justice Policy Institute, which has published numerous studies on crime and policing in the U.S.

Ashton pointed out that the arsenals of police forces have been expanding even faster than has their manpower. The latest and most astonishing dimension of this expansion is the “Department of Defense Excess Property Program” which is transferring billions of dollars’ worth of surplus military weapons—all the way up to things like amphibious tanks—to U.S. police departments.

The avalanche of lethal weaponry into the hands of police obviously escalates the danger of civilian casualties from police actions. Still worse, courts across the U.S. have regularly sided with policeman accused of unnecessary application of lethal force. And in almost all jurisdictions, police departments are allowed to investigate themselves in cases of questionable application of force.

It should come as no surprise that more than 500 civilians die each year from the hands of U.S. policemen, and that about 95% of police shootings are officially designated as “justified”. Nor should it surprise us that the politicians in Washington are doing nothing about it.

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Justice Policy Institute, David kerans, Department of Defense Excess Property Program, Paul Ashton, Politics
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