I came across this article today on Counterpunch. It made for some interesting reading. The author discusses demilitarizing the police, but then she says that this is not the correct course, as it does not address the root problem. Demilitarizing the police simply does not go far enough. After giving this some thought, I can only agree. She discusses what she calls the PIC/MIC, or the prison industrial complex/military industrial complex. This is the first time I have seen anyone lump these two sectors together in this way. I think this makes complete sense because most of the individuals that I am acquainted with that are employed by police organizations are former military. Police departments are organized in a hierarchy similar to that of the military. Police train like the military (obviously not as rigorously), and use force to achieve objectives. Increasingly they are using more and more military hardware, and are subject to defense contractor marketing. Also, prisons are built similarly to military fortifications. PIC/MIC is a very apt term when considering all of these points. The PIC and MIC are inherently linked and should be grouped together as one, and as such should be addressed as one.
The U.S. prison system, police departments, and the military have all become so bloated that we have all of these people with a huge amount of training, equipment, and an itch to scratch. They are looking for a mission to fulfill and if there is not one to be assigned, they will go looking for one. (This is a little less true of the military, at least in my experience. I can recall serving in the infantry with people who hoped they never had to apply their training.) The legalization of less harmful drugs, drastic reduction of prison penalties for non-violent offenders, reduction of funding for enforcement, and cutting military expenditures will address many problems. We have discussed all of these before, but usually as separate items. All of the individual parts here are portions of a larger system. Take away all hope, treat people as criminals long enough, and they will begin to act criminals. Treat police as if they are above the law, and they will then start acting as if they are above the law. Fund enough military action around the globe and people will start lashing out at us (we call these folks terrorists). We have created a self-licking ice cream cone. The only logical answer is to stop the cycle.
The money spent on the PIC/MIC could be used for much more productive means such as education, research, and infrastructure. We would no longer be the prison nation, and maybe we would be respected for diplomacy rather than feared and hated for our drone program.