"Don't tase me bro!" The 2007 incident and viral video of police aggression that prompted a popular meme and several spoof videos is still creating controversy and getting hits on YouTube. Most cases of run-ins with overzealous law enforcement do not end in ways that compel laughter, however.
In the past month a new video showcasing police excess has gone viral on the internet. It shows two residents of Northern California speaking to police officers through their home window. Male and female off-screen voices are calmly asserting their right to deny the officers entry without a warrant. Moments later, the door is kicked down and, well, see for yourself:
The excessive force in the video is less about individual police actors, and more about the systems and tools that promote a culture of warlike conflict instead of cooperation between the police and the community. Disturbing trends in recent years demonstrate a move towards the militarization of U.S. police departments, which includes the use of overseas war training tactics and deploying military-grade weapons and technology to surveil, subdue, detain and sometimes kill American citizens.
1. Don’t Laser Me Bro!
The PoliceOne.com website thinks that tasers and pepper spray are so 2007. If you really want to incapacitate an unruly suspect or group, police departments need only invest in these laser guns. “They don’t just temporarily blind the targeted person — Many people experience nausea that persists for several minutes after the light is shut off.”
2. Can You Hear Me Now?
I reported on this impressive set of FBI technology in a previous article. Á la your favorite spy thriller, agency officials can now intercept your phone signal, record your calls, and reprogram your phone’s air card without ever coming near the hardware itself.
3. Tanks, Trucks, Toys, Oh My!
While you were excited about your new smartphone, the police departments in Keene, N.H. were reportedly giddy to receive a $286,000 Homeland Security grant to purchase an eight-ton armored personnel vehicle. Thanks to strong community backlash, the plans came under scrutiny and are on hold but many towns have obtained armored vehicles like the Bearcat, to be prepared for "terror attacks or school shootings."
4. You Will Feel It
This giant heat gun boasts the ability to disperse large crowds by penetrating the skin and causing a feeling similar to being on fire.
5. Droning On and On …
Perhaps the most high profile reported use of domestic drones was in the recent manhunt of Chris Dorner. There has been great expansion in the use of domestic drones for surveillance and many state legislators are attempting to place limits on drone deployment and prevent the use of lethal or non-lethal weapons with drones on American soil.
The beauty of our technological age is its great potential to enhance human life, and leave the world better off for coming generations. Responsive institutions must be in place to set necessary limits on potentially destructive and invasive technologies like those on this list, while devoting resources and brainpower toward technologies that bring humanity closer and promote our most cherished values of democracy and civil rights.