by A. Barton Hinkle, Reason
You can’t blame police departments if they feel a trifle besieged these days. But police departments cannot blame anyone but themselves for that circumstance. They keep pushing the envelope—as a recent exposé of phone-data collection in southeastern Virginia demonstrates. (More on that momentarily.)
New York has largely abandoned its experiment with stop-and-frisk, in no small part because its results proved disastrous: Only 2 percent of stops uncovered contraband. That amounts to a 98 percent failure rate—even though officers ostensibly stopped only those who, based on their vast law-enforcement experience, looked suspicious.
The Ferguson, Missouri, police department’s heavily armored response to riots in August provoked a national backlash against the militarization of domestic law-enforcement agencies. When they learned how many small-town police departments had been outfitted with mine-resistant armored personnel carriers, flashbang grenades, sniper rifles and other materiel of war, even many law-and-order conservatives decided things had gone too far. Read the entire story.