Found in 20 comments on Hacker News
rlaabs · 2021-05-21 · Original thread
Community based policing, cops on neighborhood patrols, has been on the decline for years.

Police funding is now more often used to to acquire military weapons/hardware.

"Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces" is a highly recommended study of this problem.

zimpenfish · 2020-06-01 · Original thread
Radley Balko[1] has been reporting on that kind of thing for years. It's quite disheartening.


joe_the_user · 2018-12-24 · Original thread
So the agency stockpiled arms neither for the purposes of fighting crime nor for any drug-dealing or nefarious state-overthrow activity but effectively as a kind of entertainment or a sort of fantasy that they'd be acting like the cops they saw on TV.

And here, it may seem strange but is actually logical that the thinking of real cops who don't shoot it out everyday seems to be driven by the images of TV cops who do.

This book is relevant here.

theseatoms · 2018-10-08 · Original thread
It's true that local police have become much more militarized over the past decade or two. Trickle-down military-industrial complex, so to speak.

Radley Balko is a writer who's covered the issue thoroughly:

I just think it's pretty clear by now that the primary driving factor for police criminality becoming a political issue is that very many members of the socio-economic underclass now have internet-connected video cameras on them at all times.

CamperBob2 · 2018-02-06 · Original thread
It doesn't correspond to the rate of people killed by police (that rate essentially mirrors the overall rate of street crime).

That's not an accurate characterization. Suggested reading:

I am even more dubious of the second claim you make. A US citizen has vastly better ability to attempt to exact justice for their own police force's actions than someone in northern Iraq or Afghanistan's tribal regions.

A deployed soldier may be more likely to succeed in hiding the evidence of crimes they commit. They'd better succeed, because that's the only way they'll escape punishment. The differences come into play when the rogue cop or soldier is actually caught. Military personnel are held to higher standards than civilians in many respects, while police continually demand to be held to lower ones.

ekianjo · 2017-12-09 · Original thread
I think the book "the rise of the warrior cop" explains that how the police does their job in the US has changed and why. It gave pretty satisfying answers as to why it's become what it is now.

wonder_er · 2017-04-13 · Original thread
er, they're getting skewered in the media. United is paying the price for their mistake.

If they're regulated, next time they drag someone off a plane, they'll say "We were just following the handbook and were in accordance with federal regulations. Take it up with the FAA"

So no, no need to regulate the industry.

Also, the body you want to regulate them (the government) routinely does much, much worse to people.[0]


mxxx · 2017-04-12 · Original thread
If you're interested in how this kind of thing happens (and alarmingly how often it happens), this book is an excellent read:

bradbatt · 2017-03-20 · Original thread
Radley Balko's book "Rise of the Warrior Cop" goes into these issues in depth. He looks at the history of how the war on drugs, among other things, has contributed to the rise in military equipment and tactics being used at the local level.

There are a shocking number of no-knock raids which have resulted in death of not only officers and some offenders, but innocent people who's homes were raided based on wrong information and in some cases the police literally getting the address wrong.

soundwave106 · 2016-07-08 · Original thread
In my opinion you're viewing this from the opposite angle (bottom-up versus top-down).

To me, much of the root cause (it's not just black males per se; think of all the dogs shot mostly unnecessarily by police for instance -- is the over-aggressive militarization of the American police force. Which occurred for many reasons, but primarily was due to various moral panics such as the "war on drugs", and the need of our oversized military industry to dispose of excess military equipment. (See Balko's book on this:

Ultimately, the problem I can see with such policies is that the "war" paradigms too many police departments are obsessed with divide people between The Good Guys and The Enemy. The police force should be about community first (protect and serve etc.). But when the motif is more Good Guys vs. The Enemy, this probably does allow things like racial bias to play an oversized role. And when the motif is more War War War, it probably encourages hair-trigger responses.

In my opinion, American police violence (and we do IMHO have the most over-aggressive culture of any rich world nation I've seen) won't be fixed until this attitude changes. This is less a police officer issue (officers can be trained to any culture) and more of the type of culture encouraged at a legislative level.

Their number one job is not to kill anybody innocent, and they are terrible at it.


the_af · 2014-12-02 · Original thread
At least in some Western countries, the standards are to break the door down anyway, and maybe hold him at gunpoint (see:
zimpenfish · 2014-05-12 · Original thread
As good a place as any to drop Mr Balko's opus: "Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces" which is all about this kind of madness.

shirkey · 2013-12-30 · Original thread
If you think that the concern about DEA and SWAT can be easily dismissed, consider that SWAT teams regularly get involved in serving warrants for non-violent crimes -- in 1995, 3 out of 4 SWAT raids were based on drug warrants alone... and mistakes on those warrants can be made repeatedly:

"Perhaps no one was more victimized by the battlefield mentality that had set in at the NYPD than Walter and Rose Martin. The Brooklyn couple, both in their eighties, were wrongly raided more than fifty times between 2002 and 2010. The couple filed numerous complaints with the police department. They wrote letters to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly. They were ignored. In 2007 they at least got someone at the NYPD to try to wipe their address out of the department’s computer system. But the raids continued. It wasn’t until the couple went to the media in 2010 that the city finally looked into the problem. Back in 2002, someone had used the Martins’ address as a dummy address to test the department’s new computer system. When the new system was implemented, no one removed their address. So anytime NYPD cops in certain precincts used the system for a warrant and forgot to remove the dummy address to put in the correct one, the police would end up at the Martins’ door."[1]


coldtea · 2013-12-14 · Original thread
>While implying that the US is a totalitaian state will get you lots of up votes from insecure europeans, the word has no meaning if it encompasses the current state of affairs in America.

It would be convenient to keep the word "totalitarianism" forever connected with the very specific practices of Nazi Germany or, say, Stalin's USSR, and only those. Unfortunately the word and the practice existed way before and will continue to exist in the future. And there's not just a single form of it.

One can spend all his life between home, office, some cosy restaurant or cafe, friends house, and never understand anything that's going on in society at large, if he's so inclined. Especialy if he's on the upper echelon, e.g not a black, latino, native american, or "white trash", so he doesn't get to transparently see the structures of totalitarianism in a day by day basis.

From the militarization of police:

to cities built for exclusion and closing down of public space:

to the privitazation of prisons (and the highest incarceration rate of the world by far, surpassing even Stalin's era Gulag percentages when it comes to blacks):

to the dwindling middle-class (which is, when it exists, the real pillar of democracy):

Add mass surveillance, three-strike laws that resemble 19th century ethics, the concentrated control of mass media, constant external war, etc etc and you have quite a potent mix.

tnorthcutt · 2013-09-21 · Original thread
Absolutely. You might be interested in Radley Balko's book:
sswezey · 2013-08-09 · Original thread
In Balko's book, Rise of the Warrior Cop,

he talks about various aspects and how those incidents were relatively rare, and militarization has not been happening all that much because of outgunning, but rather government incentives for the War on Drugs and measures designed to have closer coordination between the military and police forces.

jakewalker · 2013-07-02 · Original thread
Excerpt from a book by Radley Balko, The Rise of the Warrior Cop (link:
hga · 2013-06-23 · Original thread
Never forget Radley Balko on this topic, and he's got a new book out, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces ( as well as an old, hard/$$$ to find one, *Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America (

Makes for very depressing reading.

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