Clinton: Militarization of Police Has Gone Too Far

Arnie Alpert on July 16, 2015
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out against militarization of the police after a question that referred to the City of Dover getting a federal grant to purchase an armored vehicle. “We really do need to work hard at preventing the militarization of local police forces,” she said.

Since the City of Dover had voted just four months ago to acquire a Bearcat armored personnel vehicle, I decided that militarization of the police would be a good topic to raise with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at her first town hall meeting, held this afternoon in Dover City Hall.  I was fortunate to be the third person she called on.  

I began by noting her comment earlier in the week about corporations writing the rules, then I told her about Dover getting a Bearcat, which is manufactured by the Lenco Corporation.  

“Lenco actively helps cities figure out how to do the paperwork so they can qualify for the money that the federal government will provide so they can get these military vehicles which then cause problems with community relations in communities where the police act more like military forces instead of like people protecting the communities,” I said, and asked, “What steps will you take to make sure that our local law enforcement don’t just become another profit center for the military industrial complex?”

Clinton called it “an important question on several levels,” and said, “The militarization of local police has been in many ways been a problem over the last couple of years.” 

She said she had already spoken out on this issue and emphasized that “We really do need to work hard at preventing the militarization of local police forces,” which is generally the wrong destination for heavy military equipment.

After 9-11, she said, lots of money was spent providing equipment to local law enforcement, but added, “I think it was too broad, I think it was unfortunately lasting too long, so that it’s still going on as you rightly say,”

“I just think local communities working with the federal government need to take a hard look at whether we need to be paying for and subsidizing the transfer of such equipment to local communities.”

There may be places where transfer of military equipment is warranted, she said, but concluded, “I think it’s gone too far and needs to be reined in.”

After the formal part of the meeting, Nancy went to shake Clinton's hand and have a quick chat.  Nancy mentioned friends who came to the USA seeking freedom from religious persecution and now face incarceration and deportation.   She also told the former Secretary of State she thinks the corporations with contracts to incarcerate them are part of the reason the immigration system is so messed up.   "Absolutely, they're making money off it," Clinton responded.  Nancy hopes to have a more detailed discussion next time she sees Sec. Clinton. 
 

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Arnie Alpert

Arnie Alpert

Arnie Alpert is co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program, which he has led since 1981.  In that time he has been involved in movements for economic justice and affordable housing, civil and worker rights, peace and disarmament, abolition of the death penalty, and an end to racism and homophobia.