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Sun Aug 4, 2013, 06:23 PM

FDL Book Salon Welcomes Radley Balko, Rise of the Warrior Cop

Welcome Radley Balko (HuffingtonPost) (Twitter) and Host Michael German (ACLU) (Reason.com)

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

If your image of American policing is Mayberry’s Sheriff Andy Taylor, who used homespun wisdom and a deep knowledge of his community to solve their problems and keep big city crime at bay, you won’t recognize the picture Radley Balko paints of modern law enforcement in his excellent new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces. Most here at FDL are likely familiar with Balko’s work (as a policy analyst with the Cato Institute, on his blog, “The Agitator,” and as a journalist with Reason Magazine and now Huffington Post) because his superlative coverage of the drug war and police violence hits that sweet spot where libertarians, fiscal conservatives, progressives and civil libertarians all meet in shared indignation.

Rise of the Warrior Cop represents a culmination of Balko’s reporting on these subjects, with an added history lesson regarding policing in the United States from the colonial era to the present. He presents a novel theory that the Third Amendment prohibition against quartering troops in Americans’ homes symbolizes a broader national antipathy toward military involvement in domestic policing. Since Reconstruction the military hasn’t had much occasion to infringe on our Third Amendment rights, fortunately, but the “Symbolic Third Amendment” has taken a beating from what Balko calls indirect militarization of our police forces. In his telling, the role of the police in American society has gradually been transformed due to urbanization, industrialization, the war on crime and the war on drugs. This metamorphosis has also been fueled by asset forfeiture laws that provide financial incentives to prioritize low-level drug cases over more serious crimes; ill-conceived or poorly managed federal grants programs to state and local law enforcement that hyper-aggressive police administrators use to buy military hardware rather than rape kits or other tools that actually address real crime problems; and TV shows that glorify and regularize police violence.

Balko focuses on the development of highly militarized SWAT teams, combined with the weakening of Fourth Amendment protections by courts, Congress, and presidents from either parties to illustrate this shift over time. And this is where his storytelling skills shine, recounting one heartbreaking story after another. Examples include Heyward Dyer, a 22-year-old husband and father living with his family in Whittier, California. A police officer’s .223 caliber assault rifle accidentally discharged during a drug raid, sending a high velocity round through the floor and into the apartment below, where it hit Dyer in the head as he held his infant child, who was awoken by the commotion above. Or a more notorious case involving an NYPD raid in Harlem based on an informant’s tip that a felon was dealing weapons and drugs out of the building. The NYPD threw a flash-bang grenade to initiate the raid, stunning the building’s only resident, 57-year-old city employee and “devout churchgoer” Alberta Spruill. Spruill went into cardiac arrest and died, one of several fatalities from stun grenades, confounding their description as non-lethal weapons.


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Reply FDL Book Salon Welcomes Radley Balko, Rise of the Warrior Cop (Original post)
phantom power Aug 2013 OP
pscot Aug 2013 #1

Response to phantom power (Original post)

Sun Aug 4, 2013, 07:12 PM

1. Gestapo was already taken, i guess

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