The Police State
From the way people, especially libertarians, are reacting, you'd think MRAPs and cops in body armor and BDUs appeared practically overnight. The emerging meta-narrative is, "One day we woke up and discovered that cops have become paramilitary soldiers."
First, if you really, really think about it, you'll realize that cops have been paramilitary forces for decades. Police academy training is a lot like boot camp, and rookies are trained to march and salute just as is every member of the armed services, including the Coast Guard. They're even part of defense planning in case of an invasion or civil insurrection. Who do you think they modeled police uniforms on — gas station attendants? Bellhops?
(Do you remember the TV series SWAT? The only difference between their uniforms and the BDUs I wore at MCRD San Diego is that they were dyed black. And that was the uniform for the Special Weapons and Tactics teams for many if not most cities that had such a unit; now many have night-pattern camouflage.)
Who or what is driving the meta-narrative?
Kevin D. Williamson tells us, "The different uniforms are meant for different kinds of policing: The traditional blue coat is for the policeman who walks a beat [has anyone seen a cop "walk a beat" in the last fifty years?], and the ridiculous stormtrooper suits are for those who roll through in an MRAP." Williamson kinda-sorta recognizes that there are different kinds of policing, but is too busy snarking to ask if there might be a valid social purpose behind the second type of policing.
We've all seen the picture of the cop on top of the MRAP, wearing grassland camouflage (really? In an urban environment?) and body armor, looking through the scope of his rifle. That isn't what Ferguson police normally wear, or how they normally arm themselves, because rioting isn't a "normal" state, nor do cops take "normal risks" when people riot. — You do know there was looting and burning going on, don'cha?