With the sight of cops in Ferguson, Missouri and Boston resembling totalitarian warriors out of a stereotypical dystopian novel, many Americans have become alarmed at the apparent transition of law enforcement to a role as an occupation force.
They also wonder where the police got the money to pay for it.
According the Center for Investigative Reporting, the answer is that most of it comes from the federal government. In the past decade alone, police departments throughout the country have received a total of $34 billion in federal grants.
Police getting new toys on the
fed’s taxpayer’s dime is nothing new. Ever since the War on Drugs was declared in the 1970s, the feds have offered equipment and resources to local law enforcement agencies to help enforce their unconstitutional laws.
SWAT-team methods converged with the drug war.
Enter the SWAT teams, once a rare sight, usually in an urban city rife with crime or civil unrest, now a staple in every community. In 1983, only 13 percent of cities with populations of 25,000-50,000 had a SWAT team. By 2005, it had reached 80 percent.
At the same time, the U.S. saw a massive increase in no-knock raids, from negligible in the early 1970’s to 70,000 in 2010. The current rate is about 150 such raids every day.
The War on Terror has only increased the flow of money, with billions of dollars since 9/11 going from the feds to local police in the form of Homeland Security grants. In 2011, the Pentagon gave away $500 million as part of a program for improving law enforcement capabilities.
Mind you, this was just one program.
DHS grants allow police in small rural towns, with virtually no crime, to obtain equipment, weapons, and vehicles more fitting for a battlefield than Main Street.