Senator Rand Paul passionately decries the “militarization” of American police departments, but this initiative won’t work in terms of either policy or politics. Changes in policing since 2001, including more sophisticated equipment and better body armor, have occurred at the same time that crime rates continue to plummet: violent incidents went down more than 25% in the last 12 years, producing the lowest violent crime rate since 1970. Moreover, police continue to enjoy huge public support. A new Gallup Poll shows 53% expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the police – ranking law enforcement third, behind only the military and small business on a list of institutions, where Congress, by the way, finishes dead last. Senator Paul may hope to make political hay with youthful left-leaning voters by criticizing police and the military, but he should realize he’s going against two of the most popular, successful segments of American life.
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