RISE of the WARRIOR COP: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

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An award-winning journalist tells the story of how politicians transformed America’s police forces into a standing army

The American approach to law enforcement was forged by the experience of revolution. Emerging as they did from the shadow of British rule, the country’s founders would likely have viewed police, as they exist today, as a standing army, and therefore a threat to liberty. Even so, excessive force and disregard for the Bill of Rights have become epidemic in today’s world. According to civil liberties reporter Radley Balko, these are all symptoms of a generation-long shift to increasingly aggressive, militaristic, and arguably unconstitutional policing—one that would have shocked the conscience of America’s founders.

Rise of the Warrior Cop traces the arc of U.S. law enforcement from the constables and private justice of colonial times to present-day SWAT teams and riot cops. Today, relentless “war on drugs” and “war on terror” pronouncements from politicians, along with battle-clad police forces with tanks and machine guns have dangerously blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. Balko’s fascinating, frightening narrative shows how martial rhetoric and reactionary policies have put modern law enforcement on a collision course with the values of a free society.

Softcover, 352 pages

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements – vii

Introduction – ix

Chapter One:

From Rome to Writs – 1

Chapter Two:

Soldiers in the Streets – 11

Chapter Three:

A Quick History of Cops in America – 27

Chapter Four:

The 1960s-From Root Causes to Brute Force – 43

Chapter Five:

The 1970s-Pinch and Retreat – 81

Chapter Six:

The 1980s-Us and Them – 139

Chapter Seven:

The 1990s-It’s All About the Numbers – 177

Chapter Eight:

The 2000s-A Whole New War – 239

Chapter Nine:

Reform 309

Conclusion – 333

Notes – 337

Index – 369

Additional information

Weight 14.1 oz