Radley Balko: “Once a town gets a SWAT team you want to use it”
Radley Balko’s new book, “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” details how America’s police forces have grown to look and behave more like soldiers than neighborly Officer Krupkes walking the beat. This new breed of police, frequently equipped with military weapons and decked out in enough armor to satisfy a storm trooper, are redefining law enforcement. How did this happen? For decades, the war on drugs has empowered police to act aggressively. More recently, 9/11 and school shootings enforced the notion that there’s no such thing as too much security. Since 9/11, the newly formed Department of Homeland Security has distributed billions in grants, enabling even some small town police departments to buy armored personnel carriers and field their own SWAT teams. Once you have a SWAT team the only thing to do is kick some ass. This problem defies the usual conservative vs. liberal calculus. Few of us encounter the warrior cop phenomenon. There are several levels of militarization. It’s tough.
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