Letters to the Editor: U.S.-style policing is common in authoritarian countries

San Diego police in riot gear ready to prevent protesters from advancing to department headquarters in June 2020.
Officers in riot gear stand ready to prevent protesters from advancing toward the police department headquarters in downtown San Diego on June 6, 2020.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

To the editor: As an immigrant from Europe, I must concur with the opinion of the letter to the editor by Frances Vizier. It is quite apparent to us that American police departments are indeed quasi-militaristic.

Officers here make efforts to appear intimidating and behave in a manner that may be polite, but it is what you would find in the military. I know, since I served in the U.S. Navy for six years, half that time in Vietnam. Police in the U.S. are less likely to interact with civilians in the friendly manner of a European officer.

The behavior of American officers betrays a certain paranoia toward an ordinary citizen, especially if that citizen is a person of color. Perhaps it is because of the prevalence of guns in this country; after all, an officer can never be sure that someone with whom he or she is interacting is not armed and dangerous.


The peculiar militarization of American police departments is apparent to anyone who is an expat or who has traveled abroad extensively. Where one does see similar policing is in authoritarian states.

Albert Bodt, West Hills