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Keeping Us Down or Keeping Us Safe? Law Enforcement in the 21st Century (December 2014)

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Photo Credit: Dominick Lopez, Indiana University Northwest

The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is a grim reminder that we often experience two kinds of law enforcement, one that protects and another that frightens people and destroys lives. Cheap and plentiful military surplus, including assault rifles and MRAPs (mine-resistant armor-protected vehicles), has made its way to Indiana communities large and small. We expect the police to enforce our laws and keep us safe, but should we allow our neighborhoods to be turned into war zones in the process? What are the constitutional boundaries protecting against unnecessary force and unreasonable searches and seizures? What does all this mean for 21st Century policing?