Saturday, November 15, 2014

Police expert: War on terror has turned our cops into occupying armies — and we’re the enemy

14 NOV 2014 AT 11:45 ET

Thomas Nolan

The war on terror has essentially turned police into occupying armies in some American communities, said a police and criminology expert.

Thomas Nolan, an associate professor of criminology at Merrimack College and former senior policy analyst with the Department of Homeland Security, said the focus of police work had shifted greatly since he was a Boston police officer in the 1980s and 1990s.

“I remember it being drilled into me as a police officer, as a sergeant and then as a lieutenant: partnership, problem-solving, and prevention – the three Ps,” Nolan said Wednesday during a panel sponsored by the American Constitution Society.He said police were heavily trained to form alliances to help them to better serve and protect communities, and he said those relationships clearly don’t exist in Ferguson, Missouri.

While the war on drugs is frequently cited as a major factor in the breakdown of civil liberties and police-community relations, Nolan said a more recent shift was largely to blame.

“In the early 2000s, particularly after 9/11, we saw a paradigm shift from community policing and problem-oriented principles to the war on terror, and we became Homeland Security police,” said Nolan, who has worked in the federal agency’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.