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Rise of the Warrior Cop by Radley
Balko he asks if modern police are constitutional and if they are have become
too militaristic. He starts off by providing the history of policing and
identifies how policing has changed not only according to the eras but by the
mentality of the officers on the street. He believes that there are no bad cops
just bad agencies that produce bad cops. He seems to have tried to persuade the
audience to take an anti-policing stance even though he claims to not be anti-police.

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Overview and Description:

            One of the main issues that I see in his argument are if
cops were unconstitutional then why are they’re cops? He even said himself “…
any hypothetical world where police were ruled unconstitutional would descend
into chaos…” (Balko, 2014). It’s easy to raise
complex ideas that question the legality of the shield that protects society from
chaos but not easy to provide evidence to support your idea. A theme that I
noticed while reading the book is that Balko provides a plethora of facts then
tries to tie them into support his argument. Some background knowledge that is
implied is that the policing system is broken, and a solution is needed to
change the police into what society needs.

            The authors methodology to persuade the reader as I
stated before is that he provides facts about policing then ties them back into
support his argument. When he does this, I don’t know if he is trying to
confuse you to believe his argument is a fact or if he is just trying to inform
you how the topic relates to his ideas. In one section he talks about the
castle doctrine and how modern police violate the beliefs of the founders of
our country. But what Balko doesn’t realize is that while it may be important
to appreciate the founders for providing an outline for modern society they had
many short comings. For example, when the founding fathers constructed the
constitution many of them owned slaves and thought they were their property and
they didn’t have to deal with criminals who got access to weapons.

            Balko uses history as a timeline to progressively further
his idea and show how policing has changed. He starts off from the earliest
forms of policing in Rome to modern policing and identifies how the same
questions on how to balance security with liberty still prevail today. In each
chapter he focuses on a variety of topics and relates it to his main thesis. He
focuses his arguments about how policing has progressively changed such as
developing from something that was done by an entire community to something
that is now done by only a select few. According to this book it seems there is
a revolution that needs to come soon, or society could erupt into chaos.

Evaluation and Critical Analysis:


            The main conclusion Balko focuses on is that policing
today has changed drastically and he’s not sure if it’s for the better. He says
that the militarization of the police force is showing a trend toward a police
state and that it would “…be foolish to wait until it becomes one to get
concerned.” (Balko, 2014). Another conclusion
he comes to is that laws and policies have elevated police above the people
they serve. In doing this the question is if these laws and policies are bad
and if they promote aggressive behavior that labels the people they serve as
the enemies.

            In Balko’s argument he makes a good case to support his
thesis including bringing up that the founders of our country wouldn’t approve
of the police as they exist today. Also, how the founders didn’t approve of a
standing military force and how that’s what policing has evolved into. According
to Balko the home is no longer a place of privacy anymore and isn’t off limits
anymore. He identified that the police have too many responsibilities and
creates a citizen that is disconnected from the society he or she is supposed
to serve. To prove his point of the police becoming too militaristic he says
that the equipment the police now uses is the same as what the military does including
things like armored trucks, assault rifles, etc.

            When Balko states that “…no one can say for sure whether
the Founders would have approved of modern policing…” (Balko, 2014) he contradicts
himself because all his other points after this quote supports the alternative.
He believes that they wouldn’t have recognized policing today and provides a
quote that says policing would be constitutionally invalid by the Founders. In
his argument he identifies that law enforcement in the eighteenth century was widely
a job of the community not a full-time job for certain people. Diversity caused
this form of policing to become obsolete because societies customs changed with
an influx of immigrants so social shunning didn’t work. After this they
implemented traditional police forces that enforced a common set of laws.

            The Founders would’ve also thought that police today
would be a standing military force. They were adamantly objected to the idea of
a standing military force. Just before the American Revolution when the British
government stationed troops in Boston and Virginia it didn’t irritate them. But
when they started using the standing army for everyday law enforcement is when
they got irritated. If this attempt by the British to implement anything like
what modern policing is frightened the Founders. Then modern policing would terrify

            One of the Founders strongest concerns was with the sanctuary
of your home. Therefore, raids of people’s homes would scare them and make them
think modern society has eliminated individual rights. Especially when these
raids involve crimes that are consensual including drug use, prostitution, etc.
According to the Founders the Castle Doctrine which holds a person’s home as
their castle and place of sanctuary should be honored. But when SWAT teams
break into people’s home they violate the Founders ideas for our country and
would therefore be seen as unconstitutional.

            Another one of the strong arguments that Balko makes is
that police today have too many responsibilities. August Vollmer once stated

            …one may well wonder how any group of men could perform
the tasks required of

The citizen expects police officers to have the wisdom of Solomon, the

of David, the strength of Samson, the patience of Job, the leadership of Moses,

kindness of the Good Samaritan, the faith of Daniel, the tolerance of the

Nazareth, and, finally, an intimate knowledge of every branch of the natural,

and social sciences. If he had all of these, he might be a good policeman. (Vollmer,

This quote from Vollmer
sums up how complex policing has become and how much the job requires. When
Balko identifies that the job of policing is too broad he provides a highly
stated fact that the job of a police officer provides a lot of stress and can
cause officers to burn out. This can cause police to become disconnected from
society and if it doesn’t burn them out then sometimes the power they are entrusted
with goes to their head.

            He also makes a strong argument about the police becoming
too militaristic when he provides examples on how the police and military use
the same equipment. At SWAT conferences he says they use militaristic style
marketing to appeal to police agencies. Many police departments now have
military grade equipment that they use to carry out their duties. When they
respond to a riot they have armored trucks and police officers that show up
looking like they are ready to fight a war. This isn’t a preferred response but
is necessary to make sure a neighborhood or even possibly a city doesn’t erupt
into chaos.


            One of the main problems that I noticed with this book is
that it seems Balko didn’t consider how many years have passed or how much our
country has evolved since the time of the Founders. Police have continuously
evolved with society, so it doesn’t erupt into chaos. The police need to be
able to do their job so that we all stay safe so if that means society loses some
privacy then so be it. In my eyes if you have nothing to hide then why are you
so concerned about the police searching your home. In instances where the police
use a SWAT team to raid a building in most of the cases they are justified.
When people think the police should make the right decision all the time they
don’t understand that the police are only human and sometimes makes mistakes.
The author throughout the book doesn’t seem to have any biases that interfere
with the quality of the material. But one bias that I noted was that from the
beginning when Balko says he isn’t anti-cop every idea in this book is anti-cop
so it comes into question whether this book was aimed at producing skepticism
of the police.

            The first weakness in the book that I seen was that Balko
doesn’t consider how much America has changed since the Founders ratified the
constitution. It has been over 200 years since then and there have been a
multitude of problems which need the police as they exist today. Including
drugs, mass shootings, terrorists, etc. events like these has forced the law enforcement
community to shift to a more militaristic profession then what the Founders
initially thought we needed. Back when the Founders were alive America wasn’t
as big as it is now in the census from 1790 there were under 4000000 people and
back in 2010 the population was over 300000000. People cannot police each other
anymore and the diversity cause neighbors to stop being so close with one

            The evolution of society is another weakness in Balko’s
book he doesn’t consider technological advances or societal changes. Society
has changed a great deal since the invention of things like smart phones,
tablets, computers, etc. These devices have cause an even further divide
between people because face to face interactions or even talking to a person is
rare. Now all people do is text one another and not have to deal with talking
with the person. Although this technology has advantages such as people being
informed of issues, but it also gives people the chance to start illegal
activities without even meeting. They can do so sitting at home on their
computer selling illegal items on the black market such as drugs and child
pornography. Because of this the police need to be able to search people’s homes,
so they can get access to their computers to find evidence of criminal
activity. But these devices also benefit police and a few big advances that
helped them out were automobiles, two-way radios, and telephones. “Once
regulated to walking a limited geographical beat with a nightstick in hand,
auto mobiles allowed for greater geographical coverage, a rapid response to
calls, and ultimately, less face to face contact with citizenry.” (Stroshine, 2015) These technological
advances have both positive and negative aspects but no matter what side you
take we have all had to embrace them in order to function in modern society.

            When he covers how militaristic the police are becoming
especially when they respond to riots. I feel he doesn’t understand that a riot
could lead to deaths, property destruction, and injuries. Riots when left
unchecked can get out of hand and the police don’t want that to happen. So,
when a huge group of people start to riot the police have nothing to do but to
respond ready to combat what is at hand. There are significantly less police
officers then there are people within it’s jurisdiction so responding with 40 officers
to a riot that involves 100 they would need to be able to arrest each one of
them if needed. So, to show up with armored trucks and riot gear is necessary.

            Another weakness with his paper that he briefly brings up
is that the police are needed so society doesn’t go into chaos. Throughout the
book he is criticizing what the police have become and what they are and seems
to be anti-police. It seems he fails to realize how important they are in our
society. They are what keeps society in check they have many duties including
catching criminals and giving tickets to people speeding. But they don’t always
do this they interact with the community to take care of minor quality of life
issues. For example, if there is an excessive amount of trash on a street they
can have somebody come out to clean it up.

            In summary Balko did a good job at relating the
historical facts to his thesis and made me ponder a question I would’ve never
asked which is “Are cops constitutional?” (Balko, 2014). He doesn’t fully
identify the different arguments that could be brought up to this question but
does bring up some interesting point. Such as the Founders being against the
standing military force the police have evolved into. In my opinion Balko falls
very short of making me even think this question is valid. Once I applied
rational knowledge to it I knew it was more a theoretical question. Not
something I could take serious but something interesting to think about. I
would recommend this book to someone else because I feel it gives a good
summary of the history of policing and also how it has evolved through out the

            If the authors purpose was to bring an outrageous question,
then try to weave facts to make it seem valid then he did a fantastic job. Before
reading this book, I didn’t necessarily know how much policing has changed over
the years. Thinking back now to a world without police in incomprehensible to
me. When Balko covers history such as the castle doctrine, posse comitatus act,
and the early history of policing it is very interesting because I never really
learned about it from previous courses. Balko did an excellent job to help the
reader understand the issues examined. Making sure he covered the relevant details
of each topic that he went over. As I previously stated this book was one of
the first instances when I was introduced to the early history of policing.
This book seems like a valuable source of information but is just set up to
further his thesis. The book exceeded my expectations because I thought it
would be another book that has the same information in it as all my other
textbooks just in different ways. But it taught me some new things that will
help further my understanding of policing.

            My position on this book is that it is packed full of
various facts from the history of policing. But Balko produces each one and
attempts to tie it back into his thesis and it makes the book seem to
persuasive at times. He tries too hard to tie the facts back into his already unsupported
argument. Other than providing facts about policing the book was not particularly
interesting to read. The chapters always start with a new idea but some how end
up back to relate to his thesis and it seems repetitive. For example, in
chapter 7 Balko starts off talking about how the government wanted the military
to be involved with the drug war then ends on talking about how police didn’t
appropriately handle the “Battle of Seattle”. Which was a

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