Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces (Radley Balko)

Absolutely terrifying. The flow of money, of equipment, the shift of mindsets. All of it working together to make the police forget the ‘serve’ part of their job. We seem to have forgotten the presumed innocent part. We seem to have signed over the 4th Amendment. The reading here of the oft-neglected 3rd Amendment is revelatory. The statistics are persuasive, the anecdotes are horrifying, and the momentum, well, the momentum has to be stopped. Balko, in what seems to be the requirement for these sorts of books, has a few suggestions in the last chapter. Given that the book came out in 2014, it might be time for him to revise that last chapter. Most of all, he argues, people have to care.

A few minor points. Balko tells us several times that being pushed to pay so much more attention to the “drug war” means that less time was spent on other crimes. I’d have been interested to see some indication of the consequences of prioritizing drugs.

Balko would have done better to remove his voice a bit more. I mean, the “militarization of the police force” pretty much tells you what the argument is going to be, but I don’t need to be told when an argument is absurd or that a home invasion is terrifying.

Finally – and it’s not changing my vote – Joe Biden’s name came up an awful lot in terms of people who have supported the militarization of the police.

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