For as long as I have been reading blogs, one regular blogger I followed has been Radley Balko. And Balko has developed a strong reputation for targeting threats to civil liberties in the US and the militarisation of the the US police forces. He has a strong article over at the Wall Street Journal, and here are a couple of paragraphs:
The new century brought the war on terror and, with it, new rationales and new resources for militarizing police forces. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Department of Homeland Security has handed out $35 billion in grants since its creation in 2002, with much of the money going to purchase military gear such as armored personnel carriers. In 2011 alone, a Pentagon program for bolstering the capabilities of local law enforcement gave away $500 million of equipment, an all-time high.
The past decade also has seen an alarming degree of mission creep for U.S. SWAT teams. When the craze for poker kicked into high gear, a number of police departments responded by deploying SWAT teams to raid games in garages, basements and VFW halls where illegal gambling was suspected. According to news reports and conversations with poker organizations, there have been dozens of these raids, in cities such as Baltimore, Charleston, S.C., and Dallas.
Here is another good article at the Atlantic Monthly on the same issue.
Back here in Britain, there are echoes of this. In the Huffington Post over a year ago this point was made, although Samizdata regulars might want to adopt a skeptical stance about HP material, but in this case the argument seems sound enough.