OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University’s American Democracy Project (ADP) will sponsor a panel discussion, “Military Tools & Tactics — Now In YOUR Community!” April 9 at 10:45 a.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater.
Panelists will include: Marina Lowe, legislative and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah; Connor Boyack, president of Libertas Institute of Utah; and Bob Wadman, WSU professor emeritus of criminal justice and former police chief.
“Recently, the Standard-Examiner covered the use of drones in Weber County, and “60 Minutes” covered the use of military tactics in Springfield, Massachusetts,” said Leah Murray, associate professor of political science and philosophy and ADP co-chair. “Our local law enforcement has been increasingly using military tools and tactics in the course of maintaining public safety. Our students will discuss the implications of the use of military tools and tactics in the course of maintaining public safety and how they affect the way the community interacts with those who keep us safe.”
Wadman, who served as a chief of police in five different states for almost 15 years, said police in America should be committed to community service, but a shift in funding created a different approach to policing.
“In the aftermath of 9/11, funding for police departments shifted from ‘community policing’ to granting funds to deal effectively with terrorism,” Wadman said. “From increased funding for SWAT teams to criminal intelligence, the police in many cities have moved away from community policing to a more militaristic approach. This change creates an us vs. them mindset rather than a supportive community policing approach to law enforcement.”
The panel will focus on civil liberties implications of the increasing militarization of local police and their use of military technology for purposes, including: SWAT tactics, such as no-knock warrants, being used against nonviolent drug offenders on drug raids; drones, cameras and scanners for constant surveillance; and the decline of community policing and the treatment of community members as “targets” in a policing framework built around a military metaphor.
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