Reading about the militarization of the police in Ferguson, MO, it is clear that the surplus weapons and armored vehicles made for our wars abroad have come home, and that police in some or even many places now have force disproportionate to civil needs. We need to know if this is a potential problem here on Bainbridge Island. After all, the wrongful death verdict in the Ostling case is just two years old, and reports by outside experts indicates training lapses in the use of equipment the police carry day to day.
I ask our city council to show leadership in asking the police department to provide an inventory of military-level equipment not used in the course of everyday policing, including helmets, rubber bullet rifles, and tear gas. The council also needs to ask specifically what level of training
the police have had in the use of this equipment.
With the war in Afghanistan winding down, the military will continue to clean out its closet. There are risks to having and not having this equipment. Our city council needs to discuss our own needs, and whether, in the name of risk management, we need to get rid of some of the materiel we may have already accepted.
—Rod Stevens, Bainbridge Island
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Photo by Julie Corsi.