The issue of police militarization looms, especially in light of the recent excesses of Ferguson. In 67-68, I served as a platoon leader on the staff of the Army War College in Carlisle, PA, home of Dickenson College. We trained our enlisted men in drills and classrooms for the contingency of crowd control, in event Vietnam student protests would break out on or near the War College complex.
Our soldiers, though regular troops, were not combat soldiers, but rather the cooks, clerks and motor pool mechanics of the War College support staff. They were the same guys who put on their uniforms to participate in honors ceremonies, special events, and sometimes military funerals at nearby Gettysburg National Cemetery. They learned how to line up and push protestors back, to don gas masks if commanded, and to hold their M14 weapons, pointed up, not AT the protestors. They were not issued ammunition. We never had a major protest event, and did not have to deploy our crowd control tactics to defend the War College, thank heaven, but if we had to, we would NOT have used the aggressive tactics that the militarized police and guardsmen employed in Ferguson just last week. Have we regressed that much in 35 years? Did we learn anything from the aggressive crowd control tactics that saw National Guardsmen kill four students at Kent State in 1970?