Following President Trump’s reversal Monday of his predecessor’s restrictions on the flow of surplus military gear to local police departments, a Virginia Tech expert said that process “in effect militarizes the police.”
“It is difficult if not impossible to gain community trust when communities are treated like enemies under occupation,” said Wornie Reed, director of Virginia Tech’s Race and Social Policy Center. “Military-style equipment is rarely needed for public safety.”
“Because this can be problematic,” Reed said, President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended a reduction in the program that transfers surplus military equipment to domestic law enforcement agencies.
“Having armored tanks redefines the relationship between the police and the public, which police are charged with protecting. Many citizens and officials have called for shifts in law enforcement's approach toward community policing and trust building. It is difficult if not impossible to gain community trust when communities are treated like enemies under occupation.”
“The militarization of policing is exacerbating the current issue of the appropriate use of force by the police. When police use military-type weapons and tactics in response to demonstrations, they risk infringing on the First Amendment rights of citizens.”
Reed is the the director of Virginia Tech’s Race and Social Policy Center and a professor of sociology. His research and expertise focuses on race, social policy, criminal justice, discrimination, and ethnic health disparities.
Schedule an interview
To secure an interview with Reed, contact Jordan Fifer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 540-231-6997.
Virginia Tech's television and radio studio can broadcast live HD audio and video to networks, news agencies, and affiliates interviewing Virginia Tech faculty, students, and staff. The university does not charge for use of its studios. Video is transmitted by LTN Global Communications and fees may apply. Broadcast quality audio for radio is transmitted via ISDN.