ACLU launches probe into Philly police use of ‘military’ weapons

guns
Rikard Larma/Metro.

The Pennsylvania ACLU – along with ACLU chapters in 22 other states – yesterday filed more than 255 right to know requests in an attempt to measure local police departments’ use of federally subsidized military technology and tactics.

“It was part of a national effort to get a better picture across the country of the militarization of police,” legal fellow Alexandra Morgan-Kurtz of the Pennsylvania ACLU said yesterday.

“In recent years, police have been seen less as being there for protection and more like a combat unit, in both their weaponry and their tactics, most of which has come out of the War on Drugs and federal funding. We wanted more information about what departments are getting funding, where they are receiving it from, what they are using it for and what are their interactions with citizens.”

The requests seek records related to the funding, protocol and tactics of Philadelphia SWAT and the Department’s use of cutting edge weapons and technology, including Mobile Forensic Data Extraction and GPS devices, biometric technology, unmanned aerial vehicles, shock cuffs and facial or behavioral recognition technology.

“From an anecdotal perspective, this disproportionately impacts poor and minority communities,” Morgan-Kurtz said.

“We want to make sure they’re getting adequate protections and not being afraid of police. When we get this information, we will recommend policy changes, if we something on a state level needs to be changed in regards to how SWAT teams perform their duties.”

The filings also request information about funding and equipment the Department requested and received from the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“A lot of departments don’t need the technology they’re getting,” Morgan-Kurtz said.

“They’re not in Iraq or Afghanistan, where they would need drones and tanks and really high-powered rifles. But they’ve been trained to be fearful of the population and think they need them. And in turn, the population is afraid of them and reacts negatively to them.”

She said she expects the group’s request will be granted – for the most part. “It might not be the entire request – as you can see, we asked for a lot of information and there are some exceptions to the Right to Know Law.  … But we definitely feel the information we’re requesting absolutely is public information.”

Similar requests were also filed with 27 other local law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania, as well as with the state police and National Guard.

“Pennsylvanians deserve to know the extent to which our local police are using military weapons and tactics for everyday policing,” executive director of the Pennsylvania ACLU Reggie Shuford said.

“The militarization of local police is a threat to Americans’ right to live without fear of military-style intervention in their daily lives, and we need to make sure these resources and tactics are deployed only with rigorous oversight and strong legal protections.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Local

Mugger uses chokeholds in Central Park attacks: NYPD

Cops are searching for a Manhattan mugging suspect tied to at least two attacks near Central Park this week.

News

Ditka calls Redskins team name critics 'politically correct…

Mike Ditka, the 74-year-old 11-season coach of the Chicago Bears and 3-season coach of the New Orleans Saints, may be endangering his position as an…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…