The intensive militarization of America's police forces is a serious menace about which a small number of people have been loudly warning for years, with little attention or traction. In a 2007 paper on "the blurring distinctions between the police and military institutions and between war and law enforcement," the criminal justice professor Peter Kraska defined "police militarization" as "the process whereby civilian police increasingly draw from, and pattern themselves around, the tenets of militarism and the military model."
The harrowing events of the last week in Ferguson, Missouri ? the fatal police shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager, Mike Brown, and the blatantly excessive and thuggish response to ensuing community protests from a police force that resembles an occupying army ? have shocked the U.S. media class and millions of Americans. But none of this is aberrational.