In Ferguson the problem was poor decision-making by police, not the equipment they used [Letter]

September 02, 2014

Letter writer Vernon Herron's views on the use of military equipment by police are spot on ("Police use of military-style gear is rarely appropriate," Aug. 28).

Ask the people who are rescued from an active shooter incident and they'll tell you they are happy the police could respond appropriately. Much of the equipment responders used came from the Defense Department's 1033 program, which gives police departments surplus military hardware.

In an age of active shooters and the potential for terrorism — a threat we still face — we need to be prepared to respond.

But Mr. Herron said, in the Ferguson, Mo., protests, it is the police tactics and decision-making that we need to scrutinize, not the equipment. The question we have to answer is whether or not those tactics were properly employed and whether the decision to deploy the equipment the way they did was sound.

I hear about the militarization of law enforcement, which has even led to finger pointing at university police department like those at Morgan State University and the University of Maryland College Park.

But ask those campus communities how often they have seen armored vehicles deployed and they probably can't recall seeing any. That is because those departments know how to appropriately deploy the equipment. It's not something they do on a daily basis.

Robert Mueck, Adelphi

The writer is an adjunct professor of homeland security at the University of Maryland University College.

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