The primary difference between police in a free and democratic society and security forces supporting an oppressive dictatorship (aka, police state):
Police in a democratic society accept that the rights and lives of the citizens they serve have to come first, before their own safety or enforcing a law they feel has been violated. They also understand, accept, and practice the concept of proportional force even when doing so leaves a slight chance that they may be harmed or that they will later have to use greater force.
Security forces supporting an oppressive dictatorship (aka, police state) place their lives and the enforcement of state law before the rights and lives of the citizens they are controlling, and like soldiers in combat they respond to the slightest provocation with overwhelming force leaving no chance that they may be harmed.
An example from Oregon: the murder of Sammy Malone:
Oregon SWAT justified the murder of Sammy Malone (18-20 yoa) on Ten Mile Road outside of Yachats, Oregon, several years ago based on nothing more than the possibility that he might harm them.
This man was on his property, in the country off grid in the costal mountains, when in the middle of the night when Oregon SWAT went onto the property believing a couple of suspects from an altercation a couple of days before in town were visiting him.
Malone heard something, went outside with his rifle as had all his life (pointed in the air at all times according to Oregon SWAT), and was confronted in his driveway by Oregon SWAT.
They told him to put down his weapon, he told them something along the line of “fuck off,” and then he turned around and started walking back to his house his rifle still pointed straight up in the air.
Oregon SWAT then shot him in the back a couple of times and killed him.
The justification according to their official protocol was that Malone potentially could have gotten behind a shed on the property and then turned his rifle on them – even though they admit he never made any threatening comments or actions toward the officers.
This is an example of the police placing themselves and the enforcement of state law before the safety of the citizens, represents a huge disproportionate use of force, and shows absolutely zero common sense – the folks they were looking for were known in town, not considered dangerous, and could have been apprehended anywhere along Ten Mile Road without putting any other citizens at risk.
And the lack of sustained public outcry over Malone’s murder, like many others we have witnessed since, shows the degree to which the United States public has been cowed into submission as they’ve allowed their democratic ideals to be subverted.
We, the same as all people, get the government we deserve.