August 21, 2014

NICK GILLESPIE: The Libertarian Moment In Ferguson.

What has helped the story to go fully national, however, is that the events surrounding it exemplify the concerns that libertarians have been raising for decades about the militarization of police, which has its roots both in the drug war and the post-9/11 terror-industrial complex. As my former colleague Radley Balko, now at The Washington Post, has documented for years (first at The Cato Institute, then at Reason, and most fully in last year’s Rise of the Warrior Cop), “The buzz phrase in policing today is officer safety. You’ll also hear lots of references to preserving order, and fighting wars, be it on crime, drugs, or terrorism. Those are all concepts that emphasize confrontation. It’s a view that pits the officers as the enforcer, and the public as the entity upon which laws and policies and procedures are to be enforced.”

I remember when the catchphrase on Hill Street Blues changed from “Let’s be careful out there,” to “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us.” In retrospect, that seems like an inflection point.

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