Friday, April 06, 2007

New Jersey Cops, or Army Soldiers?

In this photo taken from the New York Times story on the FBI Agent killed by a fellow agent while investigating a bank robbery, we see several heavily armed officers searching for the bank robbery suspect who got away. The official caption reads,

"Law enforcement officers searched a mobile home park in Branchburg Township, N.J., Thursday, after an F.B.I. agent, Barry Lee Bush, was killed while following three bank-robbery suspects." The photo is by Tim Larsen of the Associated Press.

While I realize the story isn't about drug policy, I am posting this because of the way the picture struck me. Change the background and you wouldn't be able to tell if those guys were cops from New Jersey, or infantry from Ft. Bragg. I'm no expert, but those look like M4 carbines that two of the guys are carrying, a weapon used primarily by the military. I have no doubt that in some situations police need or would be benefited by an automatic weapon, but this image haunts me.

Radley Balko, who writes The also wrote a great paper on the subject of the militarization of police in his paper, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.

I wish the best for the grieving family of the slain agent, I hope the suspect is captured safely and afforded all of his rights upon arrest, and I hope we pull ourselves away from this trend of turning cops into soldiers.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Students Win Marijuana Debate

The University of Louisville sponsored a debate on the legalization of marijuana. The pro-legalization side seems to have won it by a long shot. New SSDP members anyone?
"The fact we're bringing up controversial issues to educate students, will help people open up their minds and start thinking critically," said Nathan Parthasarathy, a junior chemistry major and legalization proponent.

"I thought the [arguments] as a whole [were] a little disappointing because the side against legalization seemed to be lacking the appropriate knowledge to bring a decent argument to the table," said James Allsbrook, a freshman electrical engineering major. "The pro-legalization side definitely took the win by a long-shot."

The judging panel agreed, and the pro-legalization side emerged as the victors of the first ULP debate.