Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces

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PublicAffairs, Jul 9, 2013 - Social Science - 400 pages
Now updated with new material, the groundbreaking history of how police forces have become militarized, both in equipment and mindset, and what that means for American democracy.
The last days of colonialism taught America's revolutionaries that soldiers in the streets bring conflict and tyranny. As a result, our country has generally worked to keep the military out of law enforcement. But according to investigative reporter Radley Balko, over the last several decades, America's cops have increasingly come to resemble ground troops. The consequences have been dire: the home is no longer a place of sanctuary, the Fourth Amendment has been gutted, and police today have been conditioned to see the citizens they serve as an other-an enemy.
Today's armored-up policemen are a far cry from the constables of early America. The unrest of the 1960s brought about the invention of the SWAT unit-which in turn led to the debut of military tactics in the ranks of police officers. Nixon's War on Drugs, Reagan's War on Poverty, Clinton's COPS program, the post-9/11 security state under Bush, Obama: by degrees, each of these innovations empowered police forces, always at the expense of civil liberties. And under Trump, these powers were expanded in terrifying new ways, as evidenced by the tanks and overwhelming force that met the Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020.

In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Balko shows how politicians' ill-considered policies and relentless declarations of war against vague enemies like crime, drugs, and terror have blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. His fascinating, frightening narrative shows how over a generation, a creeping battlefield mentality has isolated and alienated American police officers and put them on a collision course with the values of a free society.

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Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces

User Review  - Book Verdict

Journalist Balko opens with a history of policing in America, documenting the shift to police officers resembling soldiers more than peace officers, both in mentality and equipment, a trend that has ... Read full review

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User Review  - ohernaes - LibraryThing

Balko warrior cop The old "Castle doctrine" (A man's house is his castle) is now broken, no knock warrants and raids have become common. Maybe too rosy view of self-governing communities depending on ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

Radley Balko is an investigative journalist and reporter at the Washington Post. He currently writes and edits the Watch, a reported opinion blog that covers civil liberties and the criminal justice system. He is the author of the 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, which has won widespread acclaim, including from the Economist, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly, and was named one of the best investigative journalism books of the year by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University.

Since 2006, Balko has written dozens of pieces on Hayne, West, and Mississippi's forensics disaster. His January 2013 investigation, "Solving Kathy Mabry's Murder: Brutal 15-Year-Old Crime Highlights Decades-Long Mississippi Scandal," was one of the most widely read Huffington Post articles of 2013. In 2015, Balko was awarded the Innocence Project's Journalism Award, in part for his coverage in Mississippi.

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