The militarization of urban police forces across the United States is necessary to keep the country safe — but officers are often ill-prepared for the gear, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik told Newsmax TV.
"In a post-9/11 world, where New York City has been a target of terror attacks at least 13 times that we know of over the last 13 years, where we have [shootings] in theaters and school … you need a special weapons capability,'' Kerik said Friday on Newsmax's "The Steve Malzberg Show.''
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"But those types of units have to be extremely trained. They have to have the right equipment, and they have to have interoperability and intercommunications abilities with other agencies.
"If that’s not the case, then you’re going to have problems.''
Kerik's comments come as authorities in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, attempt to stem the rioting and racial tension that has erupted since an unarmed black teen named Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer last Saturday.
The police force there has been criticized for its heavy-handed military tactics, which included tear-gassing peaceful protesters and roughing up and arresting members of the media.
Kerik said special training is essential to ensure that police forces do not overstep their authority.
"In the county where I live in New Jersey, there are 70 municipalities [with] departments that have between 10 and 30 officers that want to have special weapons capabilities,'' he said.
"In reality, they don’t have the training, they don’t have the funding for the training for their equipment, they don’t have a lot of the right equipment.
"They have weapons – military-type weapons in some of these smaller organizations that I don’t feel is required.''
Kerik said the public should not rush to judgment in the Brown shooting until all the facts are in.
"At the end of the day, we have got to wait until the investigation’s concluded before we make a determination,'' he said.
"In this case, we’ve now heard 50 different stories about what happened from the press and media and others that weren’t there or … are speculating.
"The people who know what happened are the investigators who have the evidence, who are going to look at the evidence and provide it to a grand jury. That’s who knows what’s happened, that’s it.''
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