Ferguson Puts N.Y. on Notice

August 18, 2014 | | Times Union |

New Yorkers can view the disturbing images from Ferguson, Mo., with both horror and a sense of relief. There are certainly serious lapses in both race relations and police/community relations that surface too often in New York. The homicide of Eric Garner on Staten Island is evidence enough of that.

But the Ferguson images illuminate more than how we handle individual incidents. For many of us the most disturbing scenes were those of a local police force using the tactics and equipment of an army, and an army of occupation at that. It looked too much like what we see in Iraq or Egypt or Ukraine, especially when fully soldiered cops were pointing high powered military rifles at peaceful marchers.

How did this happen? Well, it turns out that the federal government, especially under Obama as he wound down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, was equipping local police departments with armored troop carriers, planes, night vision goggles, machine guns and other high powered weapons, silencers and more. Who made that decision?