D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier made her most pointed comments to date Tuesday on the tensions in Ferguson, Mo., taking exception with the way that police there handled protests of the killing of young Michael Brown.
But pressed on a hot-button issue by WUSA-TV reporter Bruce Johnson — the trend toward the “militarization” of police — Lanier said she was wary of calls to stop the practice of providing surplus military equipment to police departments, calling it “good use of the taxpayers’ dollars” to share that equipment.
Lanier, whose department deals with protests of various sizes and intensity on a near-daily basis, made a key distinction: “It’s how the equipment’s used,” she said. “In jurisdictions where we deal with protests all the time, I wouldn’t think of bringing K-9 dogs out to a protest. I wouldn’t bring an armored personnel carrier out as a show of force for a protest.”
She also addresses the importance of having the makeup of a police force mirror the community it serves, making reference to the 1991 riots in Mount Pleasant after the shooting of Latino resident there. “Different cultures and different races view things very differently,” she told Johnson.