Introduction:InRise of the Warrior Cop by RadleyBalko he asks if modern police are constitutional and if they are have becometoo militaristic.
He starts off by providing the history of policing andidentifies how policing has changed not only according to the eras but by thementality of the officers on the street. He believes that there are no bad copsjust bad agencies that produce bad cops. He seems to have tried to persuade theaudience to take an anti-policing stance even though he claims to not be anti-police.Overview and Description: One of the main issues that I see in his argument are ifcops were unconstitutional then why are they’re cops? He even said himself “…any hypothetical world where police were ruled unconstitutional would descendinto chaos…” (Balko, 2014).
It’s easy to raisecomplex ideas that question the legality of the shield that protects society fromchaos but not easy to provide evidence to support your idea. A theme that Inoticed while reading the book is that Balko provides a plethora of facts thentries to tie them into support his argument. Some background knowledge that isimplied is that the policing system is broken, and a solution is needed tochange the police into what society needs. The authors methodology to persuade the reader as Istated before is that he provides facts about policing then ties them back intosupport his argument.
When he does this, I don’t know if he is trying toconfuse you to believe his argument is a fact or if he is just trying to informyou how the topic relates to his ideas. In one section he talks about thecastle doctrine and how modern police violate the beliefs of the founders ofour country. But what Balko doesn’t realize is that while it may be importantto appreciate the founders for providing an outline for modern society they hadmany short comings.
For example, when the founding fathers constructed theconstitution many of them owned slaves and thought they were their property andthey didn’t have to deal with criminals who got access to weapons. Balko uses history as a timeline to progressively furtherhis idea and show how policing has changed. He starts off from the earliestforms of policing in Rome to modern policing and identifies how the samequestions on how to balance security with liberty still prevail today. In eachchapter he focuses on a variety of topics and relates it to his main thesis.
Hefocuses his arguments about how policing has progressively changed such asdeveloping from something that was done by an entire community to somethingthat is now done by only a select few. According to this book it seems there isa revolution that needs to come soon, or society could erupt into chaos.Evaluation and Critical Analysis:Strengths: The main conclusion Balko focuses on is that policingtoday has changed drastically and he’s not sure if it’s for the better. He saysthat the militarization of the police force is showing a trend toward a policestate and that it would “…be foolish to wait until it becomes one to getconcerned.” (Balko, 2014). Another conclusionhe comes to is that laws and policies have elevated police above the peoplethey serve. In doing this the question is if these laws and policies are badand if they promote aggressive behavior that labels the people they serve asthe enemies.
In Balko’s argument he makes a good case to support histhesis including bringing up that the founders of our country wouldn’t approveof the police as they exist today. Also, how the founders didn’t approve of astanding military force and how that’s what policing has evolved into. Accordingto Balko the home is no longer a place of privacy anymore and isn’t off limitsanymore.
He identified that the police have too many responsibilities andcreates a citizen that is disconnected from the society he or she is supposedto serve. To prove his point of the police becoming too militaristic he saysthat the equipment the police now uses is the same as what the military does includingthings like armored trucks, assault rifles, etc. When Balko states that “…no one can say for sure whetherthe Founders would have approved of modern policing…” (Balko, 2014) he contradictshimself because all his other points after this quote supports the alternative.He believes that they wouldn’t have recognized policing today and provides aquote that says policing would be constitutionally invalid by the Founders. Inhis argument he identifies that law enforcement in the eighteenth century was widelya job of the community not a full-time job for certain people. Diversity causedthis form of policing to become obsolete because societies customs changed withan influx of immigrants so social shunning didn’t work. After this theyimplemented traditional police forces that enforced a common set of laws. The Founders would’ve also thought that police todaywould be a standing military force.
They were adamantly objected to the idea ofa standing military force. Just before the American Revolution when the Britishgovernment stationed troops in Boston and Virginia it didn’t irritate them. Butwhen they started using the standing army for everyday law enforcement is whenthey got irritated. If this attempt by the British to implement anything likewhat modern policing is frightened the Founders. Then modern policing would terrifythem. One of the Founders strongest concerns was with the sanctuaryof your home. Therefore, raids of people’s homes would scare them and make themthink modern society has eliminated individual rights. Especially when theseraids involve crimes that are consensual including drug use, prostitution, etc.
According to the Founders the Castle Doctrine which holds a person’s home astheir castle and place of sanctuary should be honored. But when SWAT teamsbreak into people’s home they violate the Founders ideas for our country andwould therefore be seen as unconstitutional. Another one of the strong arguments that Balko makes isthat police today have too many responsibilities. August Vollmer once statedthat: …one may well wonder how any group of men could performthe tasks required ofpolicemen.The citizen expects police officers to have the wisdom of Solomon, thecourageof David, the strength of Samson, the patience of Job, the leadership of Moses,thekindness of the Good Samaritan, the faith of Daniel, the tolerance of theCarpenterofNazareth, and, finally, an intimate knowledge of every branch of the natural,biological,and social sciences. If he had all of these, he might be a good policeman. (Vollmer, 1936)This quote from Vollmersums up how complex policing has become and how much the job requires. WhenBalko identifies that the job of policing is too broad he provides a highlystated fact that the job of a police officer provides a lot of stress and cancause officers to burn out.
This can cause police to become disconnected fromsociety and if it doesn’t burn them out then sometimes the power they are entrustedwith goes to their head. He also makes a strong argument about the police becomingtoo militaristic when he provides examples on how the police and military usethe same equipment. At SWAT conferences he says they use militaristic stylemarketing to appeal to police agencies. Many police departments now havemilitary grade equipment that they use to carry out their duties. When theyrespond to a riot they have armored trucks and police officers that show uplooking like they are ready to fight a war. This isn’t a preferred response butis necessary to make sure a neighborhood or even possibly a city doesn’t eruptinto chaos.
Weaknesses: One of the main problems that I noticed with this book isthat it seems Balko didn’t consider how many years have passed or how much ourcountry has evolved since the time of the Founders. Police have continuouslyevolved with society, so it doesn’t erupt into chaos. The police need to beable to do their job so that we all stay safe so if that means society loses someprivacy then so be it. In my eyes if you have nothing to hide then why are youso concerned about the police searching your home. In instances where the policeuse 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 theydon’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 interferewith the quality of the material.
But one bias that I noted was that from thebeginning when Balko says he isn’t anti-cop every idea in this book is anti-copso it comes into question whether this book was aimed at producing skepticismof the police. The first weakness in the book that I seen was that Balkodoesn’t consider how much America has changed since the Founders ratified theconstitution. It has been over 200 years since then and there have been amultitude of problems which need the police as they exist today. Includingdrugs, mass shootings, terrorists, etc. events like these has forced the law enforcementcommunity to shift to a more militaristic profession then what the Foundersinitially thought we needed. Back when the Founders were alive America wasn’tas big as it is now in the census from 1790 there were under 4000000 people andback in 2010 the population was over 300000000. People cannot police each otheranymore and the diversity cause neighbors to stop being so close with oneanother. The evolution of society is another weakness in Balko’sbook he doesn’t consider technological advances or societal changes.
Societyhas changed a great deal since the invention of things like smart phones,tablets, computers, etc. These devices have cause an even further dividebetween people because face to face interactions or even talking to a person israre. Now all people do is text one another and not have to deal with talkingwith the person. Although this technology has advantages such as people beinginformed of issues, but it also gives people the chance to start illegalactivities without even meeting. They can do so sitting at home on theircomputer selling illegal items on the black market such as drugs and childpornography. 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 criminalactivity.
But these devices also benefit police and a few big advances thathelped them out were automobiles, two-way radios, and telephones. “Onceregulated to walking a limited geographical beat with a nightstick in hand,auto mobiles allowed for greater geographical coverage, a rapid response tocalls, and ultimately, less face to face contact with citizenry.” (Stroshine, 2015) These technologicaladvances have both positive and negative aspects but no matter what side youtake we have all had to embrace them in order to function in modern society. When he covers how militaristic the police are becomingespecially when they respond to riots.
I feel he doesn’t understand that a riotcould lead to deaths, property destruction, and injuries. Riots when leftunchecked 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 torespond ready to combat what is at hand.
There are significantly less policeofficers then there are people within it’s jurisdiction so responding with 40 officersto a riot that involves 100 they would need to be able to arrest each one ofthem if needed. So, to show up with armored trucks and riot gear is necessary. Another weakness with his paper that he briefly brings upis that the police are needed so society doesn’t go into chaos. Throughout thebook he is criticizing what the police have become and what they are and seemsto be anti-police. It seems he fails to realize how important they are in oursociety. They are what keeps society in check they have many duties includingcatching criminals and giving tickets to people speeding. But they don’t alwaysdo this they interact with the community to take care of minor quality of lifeissues.
For example, if there is an excessive amount of trash on a street theycan have somebody come out to clean it up. In summary Balko did a good job at relating thehistorical facts to his thesis and made me ponder a question I would’ve neverasked which is “Are cops constitutional?” (Balko, 2014). He doesn’t fullyidentify the different arguments that could be brought up to this question butdoes bring up some interesting point.
Such as the Founders being against thestanding military force the police have evolved into. In my opinion Balko fallsvery short of making me even think this question is valid. Once I appliedrational knowledge to it I knew it was more a theoretical question. Notsomething I could take serious but something interesting to think about. Iwould recommend this book to someone else because I feel it gives a goodsummary of the history of policing and also how it has evolved through out theyears. 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. Beforereading this book, I didn’t necessarily know how much policing has changed overthe years.
Thinking back now to a world without police in incomprehensible tome. 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 reallylearned about it from previous courses. Balko did an excellent job to help thereader understand the issues examined. Making sure he covered the relevant detailsof each topic that he went over.
As I previously stated this book was one ofthe 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 tofurther his thesis. The book exceeded my expectations because I thought itwould be another book that has the same information in it as all my othertextbooks just in different ways. But it taught me some new things that willhelp further my understanding of policing. My position on this book is that it is packed full ofvarious facts from the history of policing. But Balko produces each one andattempts to tie it back into his thesis and it makes the book seem topersuasive at times.
He tries too hard to tie the facts back into his already unsupportedargument. Other than providing facts about policing the book was not particularlyinteresting to read. The chapters always start with a new idea but some how endup back to relate to his thesis and it seems repetitive. For example, inchapter 7 Balko starts off talking about how the government wanted the militaryto be involved with the drug war then ends on talking about how police didn’tappropriately handle the “Battle of Seattle”. Which was a