Originally Published: August 16, 2014 6:04 a.m.
The Missouri police department at the center of an uproar over the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager one week ago has come under fire for use of armored vehicles and other military gear during protests.
Critics say the Pentagon program from which the police received surplus Humvees and such is "militarizing America's Main Streets."
News footage and photos of police outfitted in paramilitary gear clashing with protesters in Ferguson - a largely black suburb of St. Louis with a mostly white police force - have provided new impetus to efforts to rein in the Pentagon program, the Associated Press reported.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said his committee will review the program to determine if the Defense Department equipment is being used as intended.
The key words here are "used as intended."
At the same time, what we're hearing on this subject is double-talk: help police keep the peace, but keep them from being "outgunned by drug criminals" or terrorists.
You have to have the gear and equipment to use it when needed.
At a minimum, this serves as a wake-up call to law enforcement agencies across the nation. Take care not to go overboard.
And, while we can respond only to what we see or hear being reported on the protests in Missouri and around the country, we think the relations between the Ferguson police and their constituents was not, let's say, ideal in the first place.
Such an uproar and the withholding of information, etc., leading to near-riot conditions points to pre-existing, underlying problems.
Communication early and often is always best.