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Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces [Kindle Edition]

Radley Balko
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (195 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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 and Obama: by degrees, each of these innovations expanded and empowered police forces, always at the expense of civil liberties. And these are just four among a slew of reckless programs.

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.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for the author:
''Radley Balko is one of those throw-back journalists that understands the power of groundbreaking reporting and how to make a significant impact through his work. Time and time again, his stories cause readers to stop, think, and, most significantly, take action.'' --Judges' Statement, Los Angeles Press Club Awards Ceremony

About the Author

RADLEY BALKO is an award-winning investigative journalist who writes about civil liberties, police and prosecutors, and the broader criminal justice system. A senior writer and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post, he was formerly a senior editor for Reason magazine and a policy analyst for the Cato Institute. Balko's 2006 Cato report Overkill is considered the seminal work on the rise of SWAT teams and paramilitary police tactics in America.

Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
325 of 331 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read! July 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In his new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, author Radley Balko provides a detailed history of our decline into a police state.

He works his way through this history in a sound way describing police raid upon police raid gone terribly wrong, resulting in a useless loss of life. He discusses police agencies that serve populations of only 1,000 people but receive federal funding for military-type weapons and tank-style vehicles. We have also seen a total disregard for "The Castle Doctrine" which has been held dear by our citizens since the colonial days. The "Castle Doctrine" is the idea that a man's home is his castle and a warrant signed by a judge is necessary to enter and search the "castle." Balko cogently explains the reason for all of this: The war on drugs and the war on terror are really wars on our own people.

A profession that I was once proud to serve in has become a militarized police state. Officers are quicker to draw their guns and use their tanks than to communicate with people to diffuse a situation. They love to use their toys and when they do, people die.

The days of the peace officer are long gone, replaced by the militarized police warrior wearing uniforms making them indistinguishable from military personnel. Once something is defined as a "war" everyone becomes a "warrior." Balko offers solutions ranging from ending the war on drugs, to halting mission creep so agencies such as the Department of Education and the FDA don't have their own SWAT teams, to enacting transparency requirements so that all raids are reported and statistics kept, to community policing, and finally to one of the toughest solutions: changing police culture.
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79 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No, seriously: A must-read June 29, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As always, Balko is alternately infuriating and terrifying, as he details the slow, incremental evolution in our police forces. This is not a "Cops are bad" screed, but rather a "Cops are important and powerful, so we need to pay attention to how they're being trained, equipped and used" warning flare. Well-written by arguably the leading journalist expert on the subject and based on years of following the topic, this is a very powerful and important book that'll make you look at the next picture of a cop in "riot gear" with a different eye.
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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Agitator July 10, 2013
Format:Hardcover
For those of us who have followed Radley Balko on his old blog, 'The Agitator', and in his new position as Senior Writer and Investigative Reporter at The Huffington Post, this book is a culmination of some of his best writing.

The Rise of the Warrior Cop, was seen up close and personal in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing. Hundreds of police from all across New England converged in Watertown, Mass.,to hunt for the Marathon Bomber. The city under total lockdown, with these heavily armed policemen with all matter of armored vehicles racing down the streets, police knocking on doors, hunting in trash cans, gave the television viewer a sense of déjà vous. To the average citizen, we were OK with the police hunting down the criminals, giving up a twenty four hour period of our lives, to stay in doors under lockdown, while they went about their business. It wasn't until the guns started firing, cross fire between the police and the fugitives, bullets entering homes, breaking glass, with horrified citizens looking on. No, citizen was injured, which seems a miracle considering the amount of ammunition used. Is this the future of policing?

Radley Balko gives us the background of policing. The real militarization of the police. Once the wars wore down, the old and new equipment no longer needed by the military was given to the local police.. Large cities, New York, LA, benefitted first, then it spread out to the rest of the country. Drug raids now take place with armored transports, SWAT teams heavily armed, break into homes with wrong addresses, shooting dogs, harassing the citizenry, all done under the guise of good policing. Innocent people are dying, families split, and often no apology coming from the police.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Chances are somewhere in America today, a SWAT team will arrive at a private residence. They'll throw flash-bang grenades and kick in the door; they'll force occupants to the floor at gunpoint and start tearing the place apart. They're will be profanity and screaming. They may kill the family dog, pitbull or poodle. And if they don't find anything, or it turns out they came to the wrong address, too bad. You're not going to get an apology.

This is the state of policing in America in 2013, says Radley Balko in his new book "Rise of the Warrior Cop." Across the country, law enforcement is turning to SWAT team and other specalized units not for their original purpose of providing rapid response to hostage situations and standoffs, but to serve drug warrants, enforce regulatory issues, and quell political dissent. Police are rapidly accumulating military weapons, armored vehicles, military-style uniforms and an "us against them" attitude that has resulted in wrongful arrests, property damage, injuries, and even deaths.

While many people have become aware of the militarization of law enforcement since 2001, Balko shows this process began in earnest about 40 years ago, when Richard Nixon decided to exploit the white, middle-class Silent Majority's fears of increasing drug use and crime. The "drug war' and now the "war on terror" has led to a steady erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and the "Castle Doctrine," the idea that we are safe from government intrusion in our homes without serious cause.

Balko traces this history from the roots of the Castle Doctrine in British common law right up into the present day.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Who will police the police?
Every once in a while, a book comes along that’s so powerful, so insightful, and so timely, it should be required reading for every voting-age citizen. Read more
Published 2 hours ago by Jack de L.A.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read - very thought provoking
This book was recommended by an economics professor I had a few years back and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Mark K.
5.0 out of 5 stars No
I don't review things so please don't make me. let other people figure it out for themselves. I thought it was good but what do I know?
Published 2 days ago by Rebecca E. McCauley
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent retrospective
Balko has long been one of my favourite journalists on the police excesses beat, and he's produced here a remarkable work that puts the situation in its proper historical context. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Darien Sumner
5.0 out of 5 stars A seminal work
This is not only exhaustively researched, but also quite disturbing in its facts and its conclusions. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Douglas Gregory
5.0 out of 5 stars should be a must read for every police officer, politician and voter
I love this book. I wish the tone had been more scholarly and less editorial but I think this a highly important and timely work that should be read by any serious person involved... Read more
Published 11 days ago by G. Long
5.0 out of 5 stars The gap between law enforcement and the citizens they serve
I choose this rating because this book enlightened me to the facts: My money is being used to fund policies that I disagree with, giving law enforcement agencies military grade... Read more
Published 1 month ago by M.Weldon
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Fascinating
This is a very interesting book about a topic that should be of interest to everyone but somehow isn't. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Michalowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of how we got to where we are today.
Like most people, I grew up to admire the police as serve and protect good guys. However, I noticed the increasingly nasty and aggressive side of law enforcement in my city. Read more
Published 1 month ago by FXQ
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading for Concerned Citizens of Disconcerting and Unabated...
We should all be extremely leery of the overt (U.S. LE unabashedly procure/obtain "Combat Military" hardware) increasingly militarized local/state Law Enforcement... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gnuguy
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