Author Radley Balko recently released a book called “Rise of the Warrior Cop- The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.”
The police website magazine PolicyOne.com has been publishing responses to the book since its release. One officer, Sgt. Glenn French of Sterling Heights, Michigan, posted a response to the book in which he refers to neighborhoods as sectors and says police are told to treat their sectors like a “battlefield.”
Here are a few excerpts from French’s post:
“What would it take to dial back such excessive police measures?” the author (Balko) wrote. “The obvious place to start would be ending the federal grants that encourage police forces to acquire gear that is more appropriate for the battlefield. Beyond that, it is crucial to change the culture of militarization in American law enforcement.
“We trainers have spent the past decade trying to ingrain in our students the concept that the American police officer works a battlefield every day he patrols his sector.”
French, a SWAT officer, then goes on to defend the use of military technology and tactics by SWAT teams.
“What is it with this growing concept that SWAT teams shouldn’t exist? Why shouldn’t officers utilize the same technologies, weapon systems, and tactics that our military comrades do? We should, and we will.”
French seems to misunderstand that the problem is not that SWAT teams have military technology. It’s how they use it that technology.
Balko posts a great response to the PolicyOne.com reviews of his book, which you can read here.
In his response, he gives examples of several police chiefs over the past several years endorsing the militarization of America’s police force. In 2008, the sheriff of Clayton County, Georgia said America’s war on drugs is like the Vietnam War.
"The war on drugs in Clayton County, as in most jurisdictions, I liken it to the Vietnam War," he said. "Hit and miss, there is no clear win — we don’t know if we’re gaining ground or not. What we want to do is we want to change our strategy. We want to make this more like a Normandy invasion."
Perhaps the most troubling quote in Balko’s piece comes from Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn.
“My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”
So much for protect and serve.
Sources: Huffington Post