We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Militarizing American Police

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

  1. Introduction

One of the most alarming effects of the aftermath of the September 11 attack has been increased militarization of the police force. The event of the September 11 could have served as a wakening call to our security forces regarding the security state of the nation. Being in touch with the public, it has become clear that a militarized police may be in a better position to respond to the rising threats of terrorism. One of the greatest challenges facing our police force has indeed being its capability to deal with the security situations that the country is facing. It has become very clear that unless measures are taken to empower the police force, the security situation of our nation remains very uncertain.

In the course of militarization of the police, there are two aspects that have become very clear. First the tradition American civil military is being eroded in its functioning as more and more responsibility of enforcing laws is being given to the armed forces. Second, the local police force is emulating and adopting the fighting techniques that are employed by the armed forced. In which way either, it has become very clear that there is increased militarization of the police, in which case we will be referring to the assumption of the  law enforcement responsibility regardless of whether it carried out by the police force or the military. Law enforcement is carried out within the provision of the constitution. There have been many negative effects of militarized policy unit’s action which casts doubt on their ability to protect American citizens

  1. Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to look closely at the issue of militarization of the police. Being a current development in law enforcement, the paper is substantially gong to review the main reasons why there has been a drastic change in law enforcement with a trend which seem to merge the function of the local police with that of the military. This paper will seek to review the actual reason or the factors behind the increased militarization of the police. In doing so, this paper hopes to formulate important research question which are likely to act as guideline through which the subject will be thoroughly reviewed.

  1. Rationale

The rationale behind this paper is to understand the militarization of the police in American especial coming after the September 11 attack. This is a new trend which appears to have been orchestrated by the government although it has slipped the notice of many American citizens. This is where the main concern is. Integration of the police and the military can be achieved fast and easily but what effects will it have on the life of the citizens? Therefore, this paper seeks to understand the problem in all dimensions including the factors that have lead to increased militarization, the reason why this came only after the September 11 attack, how the militarization is carried out, and the possible effects of the militarization process. A review and discussion of these issues is likely to bring out the real picture of the situation at hand. It will help us to understand the problem in all its dimensions.

  1. Objective

The following are the objectives of the paper;

  • To understand the reason behind the militarization of the police
  • To understand how the militarization process is being carried out
  • To speculate on possible effects of the militarization process
  1. Statement and significance of the problem

Security is the most important concern of any country. This is why any matter on security must be concern to every citizen. The issue of militarization of police raises serious question about cause, course and effects on ever citizens which makes it really important to us all. We all need to understand how our security forces are preparing for any eventuality like September 11. We all want to know if the increased militarization of the police will be executed in line with the Amendments made in American constitution that guaranteed individual freedom. We would also like to know the outcome of the militarization not only on the security situation of the country but also on the relationship of the United States with the rest of the world and on our relationship with the state. Militarization of the police raises so many questions and that is why it is signification to every citizen in this country

  1. Research questions

In order to understand the issue well, there are important question that this paper will us to guide the research process. The following research question will provide an exhaustive review of the subject;

  • Why has there been increased militarization after September 11 attack?
  • How is militarization of police being carried out in the police force?
  • Why has the American armed forces assigned some law enforcement duties?
  • What are the possible positive and negative impacts of the militarization process?
  • How is the government ensuring that the militarization process does not interfere with individual rights?
  1. Review of the relevant literature

One of the most important factors that separate the police force from the military is the assumption of their duties towards the nation and towards the citizens. There is a major difference between the training both forces undergoes in their professions. The police are well equipped with skills on how to deal with the general public in light of the constitutional provisions. On the other hand, the armed forces are not trained on how to deal with the general public and their training is mainly centered on war. That is why the police force is entrusted with the duty of enforcing laws in the public in New York Streets while the armed force fights in Vietnam and Iraq. Like Kraska (2007) argues, the main distinction here is war for the military and law enforcement for the police.

The theoretical concept behind the increased militarization of police is the new challenge that is faced by law enforcement. As the technology advance, it has become clear that militarization of the police is needed in order to deal with the new challenges.  In order to understand this concept well, it is important to look at the face of police militarization. Militarization has been carried out in terms of equipments with the police with military ware and increased police training on military fight tactics. On the other edge, we have seen increased congressional assignment of the armed forces to carry out law enforced duties. (Kraska and Kappeler, 1997)

The theoretical concept to militarization police cannot only be traced to the recent September attack but it seems to have been taking place quiet. The standoff between the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, University of Texas bell tower, and many other incidences back in 1960s and 1970s could have convinced the law enforcers that they need more firearms to deal with the increasing security threats. (Kraska and Kappeler, 1997) Consequently, as early as 1965, Lost Angeles had formed the Special Weapons Attack Team (SWAT) to respond to such threats.  Los Angels had set the precedent. This historical trend shows us that there has been a serious issue to law enforcement that has forced increased militarization to empower the citizens. Kraska (2007) asserts that a militarized law enforcement agency is not an option for the level of crime in the 21st century but it is a necessity.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, SWATs were becoming an order in the law enforcement department.  A study in 1997 by Peter Kraska and Victor Kappeler reveals that more than 90% of all the police department in the country with a population of 50,000 had   already instated paramilitary units while more than 705 of police department with  less that 50,000 individuals had constituted paramilitary units.

Due to the threats of high intensity crime, the congress enacted Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Official Units which helped the law enforcement units to acquire sophisticated military equipments in their anti drug effort. According to Reynolds (2006) Police departments have therefore been able to acquire tactical equipments, automatic weapons, surveillance equipments like Laser Bus, and many others.  Since September 11 attack, there has been increased militarization of the police owing to the fact the security situation of the country has been shaken.

The logic of the recent militarization is the same as used in the early years. There has been increased formation of SWATs equipped with sophisticated military equipments in order to deal with the threats of terrorism.  Dealing with terrorism is not a duty that can be accomplished in the homeland alone. Therefore increased deployment of military to deal with some civil issue like drug trafficking in Central America which is through to have supporting terrorism activities can be taken as militarization of law enforcement.

According to Reynolds (2006) the main issue regarding the rise of militarized American police is however how they can be able to maintain law enforcement with such military tactics and equipment. There have been serious concerns regarding the overstepping of constitution provision especially when it comes to Amendments regarding human rights and freedom. Balko (2007) argues that increased militarization of police has been attributed to unwarranted surveillance of citizens and arbitrary search in homes like the country is already in war.

III. A critique of the major issues

The government the citizens alike agree on the need of beeping up the security situation in our country especially after the dreaded September attack. The events of the 1960s and 1970s served as important precursor for the formation of SWATs but the way in which these teams were used raises serious questions.  According to Reynolds (2006) there was serious concerns that SWAT had to be formed but becoming a routine in every community even where there was no security threats amounts to misuse of congressional act of 1995 which had helped the police department to acquire sophisticated military equipments.

There are those who feel that militarization of the police has been important to deal with the current security situation in the country. This in view of the security situation after the September 11 attack guaranteed the government to seek such measure in order to restore the confidence of the public on the ability of the government to offer security. However the volatility of the paramilitary action is an issue of concern especially when dealing with violent issue. As Balko (2007) argues that when paramilitary teams are dealing with non violent offender like drug dealer or terrorism suspect, they tend to create violence rather than averting it. SWAT teems have been create for just warrant services and they are many incidence where they have just raided homes and terrorized innocent Americans. For example in 2006, A SWAT team raided the home of Mr. Nuclos in Bedford County in Virginia.

The family was held at a gun point and the family electronic equipment were confiscated and were returned ten days later with apology that the police  had mistaken the home for a child pornographic syndicate. There are hundreds other cases where SWAT teams are leaving behind traumatized Americans. Evensen (2006) argues that the solution to the increased intensity of crime in our society would not be to militarize our police forces but to up in place laws which really address the main problem that we are facing as a country on security. He argues that increased militarization lead to reiteration with increased use of forces by the target criminal group apart from infringing in the constitution rights of the citizens. Evensen traced the increased use of force and arbitrary search on individual home as violation of the provision of the First amendment and as a misuse of police force by the executive.

  1. Discussion

Since the 1960s there has been increased militarization of the American police. There have been many factors which have contributed to the increase militarization but the leading factors have been the changing nature of crime with technology. As criminals acquire sophisticated military training and amours, it has become necessary to equip our police force in order to match this change. Since September 11 attack, reality dawned among our law enforcement officer that the increased SWAT team of the 1980s and 1990s would not deter a terrorist attack. Therefore according to the 1995 congress act on increase collaboration of the armed forces and the law enforcers, there has been increased militarization of the police force and assignment of the armed forced to law enforcement responsibility. Therefore the main reason behind the increased militarization of the policy force has been for security situation we are facing.

We have seen that there are two ways in which police militarization has been achieve. In defining police militarization it means we would be looking at the execution of law enforcement duties which are traditionally carried out by the police department. In one way, the police have been militarized by giving them military equipments and getting training on military tactics. On the way we have seen incidences where the armed forced has bee assigned to carry out law enforcement duties especially after September 11 attack. However the increased trend has been the formation of SWAT teams. Regardless of the way militarization is carried out, we can say that we are faced with security risk but we are not at war for the military to assume law enforcement duties.

Our point of discussion or exploration on this paper is the effect of increased militarization on the public. The police have the duty to protect the public and enforce abiding to the laws. This enforcement should be carried within the framework of the individuals’ rights. However increase militarization is a great hindrance to law enforcement as regards individual rights. As has been argued by some critics of militarization, when police are in army uniform wielding sophisticated military equipment, they feel they are in war, and brutally invade people home for unwarranted searches. This paper doe not oppose to the militarization of the police but there should be SWAT team which should be used to deal with serious security issues within stipulated operation guidelines.

In face of the security situation that our country is facing with increased drug trafficking and terrorism threats, there is need to reorganize our police force in order to operate within the stipulated framework that will ensure that they offer maximums security of to the citizens. Our police need to be empowered to attain the   nature and intensity of crimes they are fighting but human rights and individual freedom should take precedence. There must be clear guidelines under which the militarized police units should operate.

  1. Conclusion

Since 1960s, there has been increased militarization of the police force in order to deal with the increasing security intensity and technology. The 1980s and 1990s saw increased rise of SWAT teams which had not defined duties. Since the September 11 attack, there has been increased militarization of police with police acquire sophisticated military equipment. There has also been deployment of armed forced to deal with law enforcement cases. However there have been many negative implications of the increased militarization of the police especially with the paramilitary units overstepping their mandates to protect their citizen. The SWATs teams have carried out several unwarranted search in individual homes. This paper assert that  while militarization of the police is desirable in order to achieve the required security standard especially when we are faced with terrorist attack, the militarized police should be made to  operate within the framework of defined  standards of operation. This will protect the citizens from the excesses of the police force.

  1. Refferences

Balko, R. (2007): Our militarized police departments. Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Crime, July 2007

Evensen, G. (2006): The militarization of American police. Retrieved on 27th November 2008 fromhttp://www.newswithviews.com/Evensen/greg.htm

Kraska, P. & Kappeler, V. (1997): Militarizing American Police: The Rise and Normalization of Paramilitary Units. Social Problems, Vol. 44: 5-6.

Kraska, P. B. (2007): Militarization and policing – Its relevance to the 21st century police. Oxford Journals, December 2007

Reynolds, G. H. (2006): SWAT Overkill: The danger of a paramilitary police force. Retrieved on 27th November 2008 from http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/military_law/4203345.html

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59