Nick Meleby Nick Mele
Pax Christi Pacific Northwest

A few nights ago, my wife and I went for a walk. We noticed a helicopter that flew over once, twice, many times, circling lower and lower each time. It seemed to be a police helicopter and we theorized that the police were looking for someone but this was an extraordinary intrusion. Police helicopters may routinely patrol the skies over major cities like Chicago, Los Angeles or New York, but we were not even aware there were police helicopters in our city of about 80,000 people.

We met a friend, and as we talked about the situation, my wife noticed that a police car had stopped at the intersection nearest our home. A few minutes later, a jeep with Border Patrol markings pulled up to ask us whether we had seen a man running past. We had not, but the Border Patrol presence changed our perception of the situation. Suddenly, the police were not out in force looking for a suspect in a possibly violent crime, they were pursuing someone whose offense was that he lacked proof of legal residence in the United States.

Apart from the question of justice for immigrants, what is going on here? At least two police agencies, one local and one national, cooperated in pursuit of someone on foot, using police cruisers, an armored SUV and a helicopter. At least four police officers were involved from what we saw, not counting dispatchers and, perhaps, the staff of our local police’s Incident Command Center. Since our local paper carried no mention of the incident, it seems reasonable to assume this inter-agency force sought someone whose lack of citizenship or legal residence documentation carries a sentence of up to six months for a first offense. Why the disproportionate deployment of resources? 

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One thought on “REFLECTION: Militarizing our police

  1. And at the other end of the spectrum…community policing and efforts by the police to get to know their community…Great efforts at community building through establishing and maintaining relations (not unlike the gospel message!!!)

    Community policing is this cop’s M.O. …


    Police in Springfield, Mass. adopt Iraq-style ‘counterinsurgency’ tactics

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