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The militarization of America's police

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Images of heavily militarized police in Ferguson, Missouri, make the small Midwestern town look more like a war zone than a suburb. Now some are asking if this type of protection is making the problem worse.

Military-style vehicles, and police who are equipped like soldiers in a war are now familiar sights as the disturbances in Ferguson continue and the divide between a mostly white police department and a predominantly African-African community widens.

It was the focus of the Sunday morning talk shows.

The overnight scenes of police in riot gear with automatic rifles ready to shoot disturbed many Americans. Criminal justice professor Dr. Darrin Porcher, a former NYPD lieutenant, said militarization is no substitute for communication between police and the community.

Tear gas flashes and explosions ignited from inside armored equipment were not always part of local policing tactics. But new access to the military vehicles and weapons spurred the change, Dr. Porcher said. He added that the push to militarize police departments came after 9/11.

Law enforcement experts agree that police have a sworn duty to protect the public. The difference of opinion is in how best to do that.

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