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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 (175 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
302 of 308 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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65 of 69 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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66 of 71 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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39 of 42 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Rise of the Warrior Cop Is a Clarion Call
Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces is polemic. It takes a position on the militarization of American law enforcement. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Gerald Churchill
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this on
Somewhat long and drawn out in the beginning, but very interesting once the book gets into the 1960's and afterwards.
Published 11 days ago by J. Blackmon
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be required reading for all Police academies and FBI...
When I first read of Hitlers armies and wondered how people could commit such atrocities on fellow human beings I had little understanding of how organized police and military... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Julia Harbeck
5.0 out of 5 stars sad but true
I thought I was the only one who believed this. as a retired military now law enforcement I see the Wann-bees every day
Published 18 days ago by peter black
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-opener
5-stars for the information herein. contained here is a powerful statement about the state of our union and the manner and method whereby our police have become a kind of standing... Read more
Published 24 days ago by bandwa
5.0 out of 5 stars If freedom shall fail here, to where shall we flee?
This book is so terrifyingly honest about the nature of law enforcement practices in America, reading it will make you want to flee the country in order to find a more civilized... Read more
Published 25 days ago by J. Williams
2.0 out of 5 stars Too bad...
Balko would have better served his audience by keeping his political opinions, left/lib agenda, written as facts, out of the text. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rey Gonzalez
4.0 out of 5 stars Fire Your Editor!
I believe that Radley Balko did his best. The problem is real--SWAT cops are loose cannon, and proud of that fact.

Speaking of facts, here are two that Balko blew. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alan D. Cranford
3.0 out of 5 stars Only half the problem
Radley Balko's Rise of the Warrior Cop pulls a bit of a bait and switch. The book begins with a good summary of the origins of "Castle Doctrine" and the Constitution's Fourth... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jordan M. Poss
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Book: Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of...
This is a very well thought out book that documents across a timeline and puzzle pieces that fell into place to create the current police force.
Published 1 month ago by Peter U
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