Posted by Debby Yoder, AROUND METRO ATLANTA -- The face of America’s police departments has changed considerably in recent years. Gone are the police cars with the bubble light atop and “to protect and serve” emblazoned on the doors. Many of today’s police wear military style uniforms and drive re-purposed military vehicles. And yet the crime rate has been steadily falling for decades. Do police really need these imposing, bullet-proof, fuel inefficient forms of transport?
The police have an economic incentive to continue to build their arsenals and deploy their SWAT teams for everyday events. When they seize property that may have been obtained through illegal activity, they are allowed to keep the assets in the same way invading armies claim the treasures of the conquered as their own. This provides an incentive for police to aggressively pursue crimes which include drugs and cash, some rather petty. One the other hand white collar crimes involving far larger sums of money, technically eligible for the same types of asset forfeiture, are addressed much less aggressively. When was last time you’ve heard of a SWAT teams storming a bank engaged in illegal and discriminatory lending practices?
Debby Yoder is a contributor to Social Shutter and a Sociology major at Georgia State University. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.