Scenes from militarized America: Brookline, Mass., and the Michigan State Police

Yesterday, the same day the ACLU released its report on creeping police militarization, the Brookline, Mass., Police Department posted these photos to Twitter:

Brookline has a population of about 60,000, and as of 2012 hadn’t seen a murder in six years.

Last month, I wrote about a similar photo posted to Twitter by the Michigan State Police, which was then re-tweeted by the official Twitter account of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Within a few hours of my post, the Michigan State Police removed the photo from Twitter. Here is that photo:

MSP

 

Michigan criminal defense attorney William Maze sent the Michigan State Police an open-records request for any communication related to the decision to take the photo down. You can read read it in full here. But here are a few excerpts from the e-mail exchanges he got back:

 

MSP2

MSP3

 

I obviously don’t encourage hateful comments against police agencies, in social media or elsewhere. And anything bordering on a threat is not only deplorable, but also not particularly intelligent, given that it isn’t difficult for them to identify the source of the threat. Polite criticism is more productive.

But the notable (but not particularly surprising) thing here is that the complete lack of consideration for the possibility that the people who were bothered by the photo might have a point about the appropriateness of the photo. Instead, the lesson learned here seems to be to cease posting such photos on social media.

Radley Balko blogs about criminal justice, the drug war and civil liberties for The Washington Post. He is the author of the book "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces."
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Radley Balko | June 25