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I don t usually review nonfiction books, particularly ones about topics on which I consider myself such a novice, but the pure dismay and frustration this book has inspired in me has forced me to change my policy, to advocate for this book as required reading for anyone who cares about the country we live in, and the ways which that country has chosen to enforce law, order, and justice.If you ve been watching the coverage of events like Ferguson and wondering why so many in positions of authority seem downright accustomed to seeing cops in full riot gear, armed to the teeth and than willing to utilize force and other excessive measures, Balko provides the simple yet alarming answer no one who makes or enforces law is outraged because they are the ones who have allowed police militarization, who have been allowing it for decades.Balko manages to walk the line between keeping things interesting and anecdote based, and peppering the stories he tells with cold, hard, well cited facts His book doesn t fall victim to what I ll call documentary syndrome , where about 1 3 of the way in the point gets lost amid some dry analysis rather, incident after incident is detailed with care, and every step of the legislative process which has made the militarization of America s police forces such a rampant problem weaves in between, painting a picture of gradual corruption for which responsibility is splashed across departments and divisions from the smallest peon town precincts to the men and women of the federal government.Historical context is provided, from the origins of policing forces in the Roman empire to the founding fathers of the United States and their fear of a standing army within their new nation This gives way to a discussion of legislation which began largely following the second world war, laws which allowed for never before seen powers for police officers including no knock raids, laws regulating search warrants which have been weak at the best of times, and eventually the birth of the SWAT team in America Looking at the evolution of police forces from this progressive perspective, it becomes clear that we ve been building to events like Ferguson for years And a surprising amount of otherwise reasonable people have done almost nothing to stop it.It is unsurprising that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were quick to jump onto the militarization band wagon, obsessed as they both were with delivering a victory in the war on drugs which was essentially just a war on the counter culture of the sixties loathed by both of them What seems astonishing is the fact that liberals Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were and have been just as eager to prop up these laws and even increase police authority in the context of a changing world Consider that by the end of his first term, Barack Obama had overseen federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in four years than George W Bush had presided over in eight 301 Sounds strange, right Balko also reminds the reader of the startling fact that one of the main proponents of much of the legislation that has done away with civilians fourth amendment rights in police matters is none other than the man currently one heartbeat away from the presidency, good old Joe Biden Support for law enforcement s use of excessive measures has managed to become one of just a handful of issues that somehow transcends party lines as well as standing the test of time As recently as 2011 funding was increased for programs enabling and encouraging the Defense Department to transfer their excess military equipment to police departments across the country, and there does not seem to be an end in sight.More than anything, though, the theme of aggression in the incidents Balko details is striking, even as the names, dates, and purported offenses begin to stack up Police officers have come to think of themselves as soldiers, as enforcers of the law against agitators who are other to them, men and women with whom they do not feel even a remote sense of camaraderie They use their suspicions of citizens as part of circular reasoning which allows them to justify violent raids which come without any warning and which often result in property damage and even injury or death to individuals who have not even been charged with a crime Profiling, heavy reliance on questionably reliable informants, and policies which encourage an intimidate first, ask questions later strategy, have created an atmosphere in which people fear the police, and in which they are in legitimate danger of getting on the wrong side of an officer who has literally been trained by military personnel, equipped with gear and weaponry that belong in Fallujah, and who thinks of himself as a warrior first and foremost.You can read the rest of this review at my blog An overview of the continuing militarization of the police in this country, post Drug War and 9 11 I began reading this after the Boston Marathon Bombing In the days following, The city was placed on total lockdown, with heavily armed policemen in all matter of ard vehicles It wasn t long until the guns started firing, cross fire between the police and the fugitives, bullets entering homes, breaking glass, with horrified citizens looking on The black comedy event, however was when scores of heavily armed police fired over 300 rounds into a boat where the terrorist was hiding, somehow failing to kill him.Somewhere in the US today, A SWAT team will arrive at a private residence, throw flash bang grenades and kick in the door They ll force occupants to the floor at gunpoint and start tearing the place apart They will use profanity and screaming They may kill the family dog And if they don t find anything, or it turns out they came to the wrong address, you don t get an apology.More and , police sentiment is that the general public is the enemy More and , SWAT teams and police squads are being used to serve drug warrants, enforce regulatory issues and quell political dissent. Radley Balko s Rise of the Warrior Cop pulls a bit of a bait and switch The book begins with a good summary of the origins of Castle Doctrine and the Constitution s Fourth Amendment the former argues that, legally, a man s home is his castle, and entering it without permission amounts to an act of aggression, and the latter, which built on castle doctrine, protects American citizens from unreasonable search and seizure and established the legal requirement for warrants and probable cause.These are live and important issues given recent events, and at first Balko seems to be laying out a history of the erosion of castle doctrine and fourth amendment protection Balko uses case studies beginning in the 1950s to discuss breaches of fourth amendment rights by both federal and local police, breaches that not only violated civil rights but in a number of cases resulted in the deaths of civilians ostensibly protected by those rights Balko also describes a number of incidents during the 1960s including Charles Whitman s massacre at UT Austin but especially the Watts Riots that raised concerns about the under preparation of police for mass violence The modern SWAT team, Balko shows, developed within the LAPD as a result of the lessons learned during those six days in Watts The stage was set for the future militarization of American cops.At this point Balko s focus shifts to the War on Drugs and barely looks back Fourth Amendment rights are mere background to the rest of the book, in which Balko details a litany of botched drug raids, most of which involved civilian casualties While Balko points out that the Nixon administration and virtually every presidential administration thereafter used drugs as an excuse to extend federal power, his obsessive focus on drugs implies that government overreach would not be a problem if marijuana were legalized.What Balko does best in this book is invite outrage Wrong door raids, in which police mistakenly pile into the homes of innocent people sometimes the neighbors of their actual targets are an especially infuriating idea, and Balko selects his numerous anecdotes for maximum outrage He very clearly points out the way that, since the inception of SWAT teams, they have gone from specialized task forces to a first response cure all He also shows quite well the difference between the US of a hundred years ago and the US now, in which Americans are so accustomed to the idea of SWAT teams that it takes a litany of outrageous stories to provoke questioning Further, when Balko talks about legislation especially at the federal level, where much of the problem originates his narrative is clear and concise and capably lays out the legal cause and the real world effect.But the book has a lot of problems First, and most minor, there are many small errors of basic fact A handful of examples the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building, bombed by Timothy McVeigh in 1995, is referred to as the Arthur Murrah Federal Building 203 Navy SEALs are referred to as Seals 208 Police are described blasting locks open with specialized explosives called shape chargers 155 the correct term is shaped charges These in themselves are not damning, but they do not build confidence, especially when it comes to describing the technical equipment used by militarized police.Balko, for someone very concerned about the rhetoric used to dehumanize drug users passim , uses a lot of emotive language himself Drug users are always peaceful or peacefully smoking marijuana in contrast to the police, who always burst in, rip doors from hinges, shout, swear, and point or even hold guns to the heads of those being raided Wrong door raids in particular are outrageous enough without painting them with such melodramatic language.Like many libertarians, Balko attacks both sides of the aisle, which can be refreshing But it is readily apparent whom Balko does and does not like when reading his book He is always ready to play the hypocrisy card For instance, here he describes George HW Bush s drug czar, William Bennett He had run both agencies where he had previously served as a proud moral scold Which isn t to say he was a prude Bennett was an obese man, a chain smoker, and, the country would learn years later, he had a pretty serious jones for video poker 164 Later, after quoting a G Gordon Liddy rant in which Liddy advised people to shoot to kill if their homes were raided by the ATF, Balko muses, It was some remarkable language to be coming from the guy who helped create ODALE, the Nixon era office that sent narcotics task forces barreling into homes to make headline grabbing busts 199 But without defending Liddy, about whom I know next to nothing surely it does not amount to mere cognitive dissonance to care about a federal raid to confiscate second amendment protected firearms than a police raid to confiscate illegal drugs In instances like these, it seems that Balko is simply incapable of considering the other side of an argument.But the two biggest problems in the book have to do with Balko s focus First is the issue of militarization itself This is Balko s devil term throughout the book, and he never takes the time to define it Anything military or military style is anathema Balko points out the rise of SWAT teams, which receive literal military training, as well as the adoption of assault rifles, grenade launchers, and even ard personnel carriers which Balko refers to a few times as tanks Balko confusingly describes a South Carolina police unit that had just received an APC with a belt fed rotating machine gun turret capable of firing.50 caliber rounds of ammunition 239 But he also repeatedly points out police units that have used military computers and clothing Balko even condemns a police force that switched from the.38 Special revolver to the.45 automatic, the standard US Army sidearm for 80 years 230 This particular instance betrays a lack of understanding of firearms, as the.45 is actually a downgrade in penetrative power a good thing considering the triggerhappy cops Balko describes throughout.Second, the narrative Balko is selling is that, since the late 1960s, police forces have been egged on to greater militarization because of an unwinnable war against drug users, a war furthered by corrupt legislation that allows polices forces to seize and use assets a very good point and resulting in an often literal assault on fourth amendment rights There s a lot to this the problem is that there s to it The erosion of constitutional rights and the war on drugs are a chicken and egg argument If Balko wanted to provide a comprehensive history of the militarization of police forces and the breach of constitutional rights, he d have to go back further, much further than he does He briefly mentions the Palmer Raids of the early 1920s but moves quickly on to his main subject the rise of SWAT and the war on drugs The Palmer Raids occurred during the Red Scare, and 50,000 suspected Bolshevik or anarchist revolutionaries were monitored with warrantless wiretaps, raided, arrested without warrant and held in violation of habeus corpus, and of them several hundred were eventually deported The basis for all of that was a series of bombings analogous to the violent events of the 1960s, with the exception that legislation already existed to support these unconstitutional arrests Wilson s Sedition Act of 1918 If he wanted to talk specifically about militarization he could talk about the widespread adoption by police forces of Browning Automatic Rifles and Thompson submachine guns, considered antiques today but cutting edge military hardware during the 1920s The fight against mobs and bootleggers at this time is pretty clearly analogous to the modern war on drugs, but the latter is all Balko cares to talk about.The point is that militarization and the breach of constitutional rights is a much bigger problem than the war on drugs it s ultimately a problem of how much authority rests in the federal government, not with which problems it tries to fix A government that would launch a war on drugs would militarize and violate the fourth amendment for any number of other reasons and has.Recommended on the basis of its extensive anecdotal evidence and with those problems in mind. I ve been binging on a buffet of depressing non fiction books lately, detailing the way in which the world, and America in particular, is terribly screwed up It s the anti anti depressant and the inspiration for my new Goodreads tag, Death, Drugs, and Political Corruption But the thing about social issues is that some can be explained very quickly problem, example 1, example 2, how to fix it, done and some require much time to understand the full gravity of the situation Basically, can John Oliver adequately explain it in 20 minutes or do we need a book on it The militarization of America s police forces is one of those issues that I think could be covered pretty adequately in 20 minutes That s not to say it isn t an important issue, it absolutely is, but only that I could have done without 300 of this book s 400 and some odd pages While truly well researched, I didn t feel that I really needed quite the level of detail that Radley Balko goes into here The final 20 minutes of Last Week Tonight or a nice, lengthy NPR interview with the author would have satisfied me just fine.Instead, I kept feeling at times like I was already full and on the verge of puking my guts back up I ve lived in America for most of my life so I was well aware of the militarization of America s police forces before I started reading Hearing all the individual stories about how bad the situation is and how it got to this point ultimately taught me nothing because I d already presumed that it was really bad and that it had gotten really bad due to both horrible leadership namely, Nixon, Reagan, and basically everyone who came after , the failed War on Drugs hence the Drugs part of my aforementioned tag It seems just about every problem in America today can be traced back to the moronic War on Drugs , and the fear of added terrorist attacks after September 11th.According to Balko, it looks like I was right.Balko s book is divided into decades, which means we can hear how the problem grew out of the 1950s and 60s and how it rapidly ramped up in every subsequent decade The army supplies police forces with weaponry, politicians and courtrooms have drastically watered down search and seizure laws, as well as the so called Castle Doctrine the basis for some states Stand your ground laws , which states that a person can use deadly force to defend his or her property, person, etc., and policing has moved out of the community All big problems, but once the War on Drugs is mentioned, the spotlight is turned full force on marijuana laws.If you are highly interested in this subject, then you ll find a lot to love about Balko s book starting with the guy s name Radley Balko I mean, how cool is that If your interest is casual you know there is a problem and just want a bit information on it then you should save your time and just find an interview with the author online. Radley Balko s Rise of the Warrior Cop The Militarization of America s Police Forces is polemic It takes a position on the militarization of American law enforcement By militarization, Balko means the use of the military in policing, law enforcement training with the military, law enforcement acquiring military weapons, and the use of military tactics in dealing with the public He points out that the militarization of American policing has supported or been supported by court decisions that have narrowed constitutional rights and by policy decisions President Nixon s war on crime and drugs , President Reagan s war on drugs, President Clinton s war on crime, and Bush the Younger Obama s war on terror Balko begins by pointing out that American rights to the sanctity of the home in Anglo American law originated with the Castle Doctrine, the notion that a man s home is his castle and that government could not violate the sanctity of the home without just cause and without giving the owner time to answer the door when law enforcement knocked on it The abuse or disregard of the Doctrine during the rupture with Great Britain led Americans to write the Third and Fourth Amendments into the United States Constitution The disregard of the Doctrine during the rupture with Great Britain led Americans to write the Third and Fourth Amendments into the United States Constitution The country moved in fits and starts toward the militarization of law enforcement during the 19th and early 20th centuries In the 1960s, the urban riots and a number of spectacular crimes such as Charles Whitman s mass killing at the University of Texas at Austin led to up and coming Los Angeles policeman Daryl Gates forming the nation s first SWAT team The team consulted with the military, as the military had much of the experience that the team needed to draw on It had a nationally televised baptism of fire during the Symbionese Liberation Army standoff in 1974 The gun battle, in which SLA members shot it out with the LAPD until they were burned alive inside of a house, seemed to the nation s law and order advocates, particularly police officers, to justify forming SWAT teams.The tumult of the sixties and early seventies led to President Nixon declaring war on crime, particularly on drugs, which he and many American conservatives linked to the counterculture The silent majority to which Nixon appealed wanted action to restore law and order He gave it to them Task forces were formed that carried out drug raids with no knock warrants In addition, Congress passed crime bills that allowed for preventive detention and no knock warrants Court decisions upheld police actions Terry v Ohio, a 1968 U.S Supreme Court decision, lowered the threshold for stopping and searching from probable cause to what the Court termed reasonable suspicion The beat got louder during the 1980s President Reagan s war on drugs prescribed harsher penalties for drug offenders and raids to capture drugs Police crackdowns were coupled with asset forfeiture, in which the assets of the accused not the convicted were sold, with cooperating agencies getting cuts of the rake off That led to cities forming SWAT teams to carry out drug raids to acquire money in asset forfeiture and federal grants The militarization of American policing now had a financial incentive President Clinton s war on crime consisted of the COPS program, which supposedly put 100,000 thousand police officers on American streets the actual numbers are debated and eviction of drug users from public housing, which required SWAT teams Court decisions continued to buttress police actions to the point of gutting the Fourth Amendment and spectacular crimes, such as the Columbine school shootings, the Branch Davidian standoff, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the North Hollywood bank robbery gunfight, justified the possession and use of SWAT teams to the public The September 11 attacks escalated the militarization of law enforcement Communities needed SWAT teams to round up real, suspected, and imagined terrorists The war on crime continued, of course, with raids searching for drugs being carried out In addition, SWAT teams were used to police peaceful nonviolent demonstrations and to serve warrants for minor offenses such as unpaid traffic tickets and to enforce regulatory decrees Balko writes in an agreeable style, although sometimes he becomes too colloquial, referring to Reagan administration Secretary of Education William Bennett as having a jones for video poker I admit to being a member of the choir to whom Balko preached, but he introduced me to aspects of militarization, particularly the financial aspect of it, that I had not considered before reading the book He points out that arms firms lobby to sell weapons that have proven themselves on battlefields to policemen The policemen do not consider whether an ard personnel carrier with a heavy machine gun is appropriate for a domestic police force In addition, there is a keep up with the Joneses mentality that mandates that a town have a SWAT team if its neighbor has one Moreover, the vulnerability that the 9 11 attacks exposed caused police chiefs and mayors to say, It could happen here, too If you need horror stories, you will find them in Rise of the Warrior Cop SWAT teams sometimes go to the wrong address Families are terrorized, homes are damaged, and pets and innocent people are sometimes shot Occasionally, people who think that the officers entering their homes without identifying themselves are home invaders shoot those officers Balko points out that police forces have sought veterans without necessarily ensuring that those veterans are psychologically suited to police work Perhaps many of the readers who have had routine encounters with policemen over parking tickets, traffic tickets, or nonfunctioning tail lights would agree That background, along with police academy training and service with likeminded policemen, tends to create an us or them mentality that bodes poorly for routine encounters with the people whom they serve Balko notes that statistics and experience do not justify the us or them mentality, which mandates that the cop do whatever he or she must do to get home alive Statistically, police work has gotten safer since the 1970s, with 2012 being the safest year for police officers since the 1950s Violent crime has decreased for the last 20 years However, this mentality has led to police investigators rarely questioning whether officers should have drawn, much less fired, their weapons, and officers rarely being brought to book for questionable shootings.The book questions the use of SWAT teams in some situations At the Columbine school shooting, SWAT arrived 45 minutes after the shooting started and did not attempt to enter the building even though the gunmen were still shooting The reason given was preserving the lives of policemen Instead, the SWAT team searched students who escaped from the school Eventually, the shooters shot themselves If an elite unit cannot be used in a school shooting for fear of some of its members being killed, when can it be used Balko concludes by suggesting reforms based on terminating the drug war, which necessitates most of the SWAT raids ceasing SWAT raids for regulatory agencies, illegal gambling, underage drinking, and other situations for which they are not necessary recording forced entry raids and warrants in publicly accessible databases, along with judges and prosecutors and the warrants that they seek and do or do not sign off on, as well as departments that receive federal funding being required to record officer shootings employing community policing to decrease the tension between public and officers changing police culture from an us or them mentality to one based on negotiation and dispute resolution accountability among policemen, who can use police unions and the Blue Wall of Silence to cover up wrongful activity and increased public attention to police misconduct and increased pressure on politicians Balko s last paragraph is the most important one of the book It reads as follows No, America today isn t a police state Far from it But it would be foolish to wait until it becomes one to become concerned Rise of the Warrior Cop The Militarization of America s Police Forces is a provocative, informative look at the trends of militarization of law enforcement and courts and policies that narrow American rights It is a clarion call I give it four stars. I wish I could write a coherent review of this book, but just thinking about the abuses of civil rights presented in this book makes me angry beyond the capacity for rational thought. .Download Epub ⚓ Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces ⚇ The Last Days Of Colonialism Taught America S Revolutionaries That Soldiers In The Streets Bring Conflict And Tyranny As A Result, Our Country Has Generally Worked To Keep The Military Out Of Law Enforcement But According To Investigative Reporter Radley Balko, Over The Last Several Decades, America S Cops Have Increasingly Come To Resemble Ground Troops The Consequences Have Been Dire The Home Is No Longer A Place Of Sanctuary, The Fourth Amendment Has Been Gutted, And Police Today Have Been Conditioned To See The Citizens They Serve As An Other An EnemyToday S Ard Up Policemen Are A Far Cry From The Constables Of Early America The Unrest Of The S Brought About The Invention Of The SWAT Unit Which In Turn Led To The Debut Of Military Tactics In The Ranks Of Police Officers Nixon S War On Drugs, Reagan S War On Poverty, Clinton S COPS Program, The Post Security State Under Bush And Obama By Degrees, Each Of These Innovations Expanded And Empowered Police Forces, Always At The Expense Of Civil Liberties And These Are Just Four Among A Slew Of Reckless ProgramsIn Rise Of The Warrior Cop, Balko Shows How Politicians Ill Considered Policies And Relentless Declarations Of War Against Vague Enemies Like Crime, Drugs, And Terror Have Blurred The Distinction Between Cop And Soldier His Fascinating, Frightening Narrative Shows How Over A Generation, A Creeping Battlefield Mentality Has Isolated And Alienated American Police Officers And Put Them On A Collision Course With The Values Of A Free Society First off, you have to ignore the blatantly false statement made at the very beginning where he makes the absurd claim that during colonial times predatory crimes like murder, rape, and robbery were almost non existent But I m no historian so what do I know Unless your an American who has been actually living in an isolation chamber without any media whatsoever for the past few decades, you have noticed the increased militarization of law enforcement I didn t do any research on the author but I have a sneaky suspicion they are libertarian I read this for a history of SWAT though, so their political inclinations don t matter to me as much as their knowledge I just didn t want to read a polemic, which is why I completely ignored the last chapter on reforms What s interesting about libertarian s views on law enforcement, and Balko rightly points this out, is that they are so blatantly contradictory I m going to go out on a limb here and say it s a racial thing The contradiction is while libertarians are rightfully hostile to the curtailing of individual rights and broadening of police powers, there are crickets when a young black man is killed. I don t need statistics to tell me that the largest demographic represented in libertarian circles are middle aged white men Even a breach of a black family s property, their sacred cow and one spoken a whole lot about see the castle doctrine inRise of the Warrior Cop, isn t compelling enough for there to be outrage from that ideological sewer Anyways, the book makes it clear that these contradictions are part of the larger issue of the right and left both raising a shitstorm when something bad happens to them, but then gloating when that same thing happens to the people they don t like I m an anarchist on the sideline with no stake in this conversation, and I see this hashed out on social media all the time.ROTWC is of a 3 star book because ultimately I wanted something with a little depth than statistics, but I m bumping it up because cops are disgusting and there are some truly horrifying accounts inside of how police operate on both a mental and physical level and the role of politicians fear mongering What could be relevant today to ponder as we enter into deeper level s of hell I m not sure how many people know it was the democrats, particularly Biden who, in a bid to distance themselves from their opponents allegations that they are soft on crime, signed off on some truly draconian crime bills before the republicans could throw there s down, as well as playing on fears of rising crime, which funnily enough Americans believe is a problem even when studies show it s going down, so it s clearly a bipartisan moral crusade As for myself, it was confirmation of what I already knew I m too old to have been alive when cops wore dress blues without bullet proof vests and weren t armed That time has long past There too many stories like the ones in this book, the last I read was of the scandals surrounding the vice squad that picked up Stormy Daniels one allegation being the officer forced two women to have sex under threat of arrest at a strip club Look up officer involved shooting and you will see at least one high profile case being tried, which as everybody knows is just for show as the cops are rarely convicted, and, sadly, fresh blood spilled that we can often watch on a body cam at a later date. I just finished Rise of the Warrior Cops , and was about to add my comments here when I came across an article written today October 24th by Radley Balko for the Huffington Post The article, the first of a six part series, capatures the essence of the book, e.g., too many drug raids gone wrong based on too much militarization of the Police Forces, and having this military capacity, too much tendency to over utilize this force in minor situations Balko claims not to be anti cop, but rather is simply against the policies which foster the over use of force against minor pot smokers, grandmothers, and neighborhood nickle dime poker games Balko s article tells the story of the book much better than I ever could, so I copied most of the Balko article below, with credit to the author and the Huffington Post.This article is the first in a six part series about the drug war and police reform.OGDEN, Utah It s late summer, and the house at 3268 Jackson Ave has been boarded up for months The front door, riddled with bullet holes, is pasted over with police tape and a No Trespassing sign As Erna Stewart pries open the door, shards of glass from the edges of its already shattered window fall to the ground.The air inside is stale and hard to breathe Belongings are strewn about There s a dusty television, an answering machine, a computer printer still in its box, some video games stacked on bookshelves The police have ripped up sections of floor that had been soaked with blood, leaving a scar in the bathroom and another in the kitchen.More bullet holes call out from all sides the walls, the doors, the ceiling, the floor, the windows, the molding, the kitchen cabinets Two of the bullets hit the brick siding of a neighbor s house One pierced a bedroom window The trail of damage leads out to the pock marked backyard and the shed where Erna s brother in law, Matthew, attempted to take refuge.Between 130 and 250 bullets were fired in all, according to various accounts, an arsenal s worth A cleaning service recently found a bullet while vacuuming.In the basement, in a small room to the left of the stairs, there s a large pile of tubing and plastic containers It s here that Matthew David Stewart, a 37 year old Army veteran, committed the crime that precipitated the armed raid on his home an assault that left one police officer dead and five others wounded, and eventually led to Stewart s death as well It s here that he grew marijuana.Michael Stewart says his son, a former paratrooper, suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, and may have been self medicating Others have suggested that he smoked pot to alleviate his shyness and social awkwardness Perhaps the pot was simply for pleasure There were 16 plants in all But there is no evidence that he ever sold the drug, and there were no complaints from neighbors.Still, on the night of Jan 4, 2011, 12 members of the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force assembled in the parking lot of the church across the street from Stewart s house At 8 30 p.m., according to a neighbor, they exchanged high fives Then they broke down Stewart s door with a battering ram.The police claim to have knocked and announced themselves several times But Stewart said he never heard them He worked the graveyard shift at a local Walmart and was asleep at the time Awaking to the sound of armed men storming into his house, he jumped out of bed, naked, threw on a bathrobe and grabbed his 9 millimeter Beretta.Who shot first remains in dispute But after exchanging fire with the officers for about 20 minutes, Stewart dove out a bedroom window and attempted to take shelter in the shed behind his house The police opened fire on the shed, lighting it up, as one officer later put it Stewart, who had been shot in the arm and the hip, crawled out and surrendered.One of the members of the strike force, Jared Francom, 30, had been shot seven times, and died at the scene Stewart was arrested, taken to the hospital for his injuries, and charged with murder.Francum s death elicited a wave of cop killer outrage directed at Stewart Eight days after the raid,Weber County Attorney Dee Smith announced that he d be seeking the death penalty As details emerged, however, a growing chorus of critics began to question whether the aggressive police tactics had really been necessary, and whether the battle on Jackson Avenue could have been avoided entirely.An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune asked why the police decided to wage a military style attack on a small time weed grower The editors of Ogden s Standard Examiner expressed similar concerns over beefed up police tactics and called for a re evaluation of how local law enforcement handles its duties, particularly concerning raids and late night police procedures It s very clear that middle of the night arrest warrant servings by armed officers need to be reconsidered, the editors wrote.In the months following the raid, a number of other controversial police actions hit the news Police in Salt Lake City broke into the home of a 76 year old woman during a mistaken drug raid A SWAT team in Ogden went to the wrong address in search of a man who had gone AWOL from the Army and ended up pointing its guns at an innocent family of four Two narcotics detectives shot and killed a young woman in a suburb of Salt Lake City as she sat in her car.Together, these incidents have spawned a budding police reform movement in Utah At the head of it, Stewart s family members have been joined by a political odd couple Jesse Fruhwirth, a longtime progressive activist rabble rouser, and Connor Boyack, a wonky libertarian with a background in Republican politics And independently, in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County, the police chief and lead prosecutor have already begun to adopt some unconventional, reform minded approaches to crime and punishment.That Utah, one of the most conservative states in the country, would become a hotbed for police reform, is surprising But these reformers have carefully crafted their approach, honed a message that seems to be resonating with the community, and won over some early converts As botched raids and excessive SWAT style tactics have gained increasing notoriety around the country, other communities may soon be looking to Utah as a model for less aggressive but effective approaches to public safety The tip about the marijuana plants came from an ex girlfriend of Stewart s named Stacy Wilson They had dated for about a year and a half but broke up in the summer of 2010 Erna Stewart introduced them I still feel guilty about that, she says He caught her cheating on him, they broke up, and it ended really badly She was angry with him He was heartbroken She tried to get him fired from his job She really had it out for him Wilson reported Stewart to a tip line that the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, a federally funded anti drug task force that serves both counties, set up to collect information about illicit drugs.In a bus ad promoting the initiative, the strike force members pose in full SWAT attire armor, face masks, camouflage and guns The tip line number is at the top of the ad, along with a plea for citizens to report drug abuse, a term often associated with drug use than with distribution Below the photo, the ad reads, We ve got your back According to police documents, Wilson called the tip line in November 2010, two months before the raid, and spoke with Officer Jason Vanderwarf Vanderwarf visited Stewart s house three times, but no one answered After finding what he described as signs of a marijuana grow, however, he filed an affidavit to get the warrant.That appears to be the extent of the investigation The police never ran a background check on Wilson to assess her credibility In fact, after their initial conversation, Vanderwarf said that he was unable to contact her He later told investigators that She kinda fell off the face of the earth Neither Wilson nor officials from the Ogden Police Department and Weber County Sheriff s Department responded to requests for comment.What is clear, however, is that if instead of raiding the house, the police had simply arrested Stewart as he was leaving to go to work, or as he was coming home, or even at his job at Walmart, there would have been two fewer funerals in Ogden. I don t remember when I first heard the parable of the boiled frog that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death This parable is not technically true, but as a metaphor it covers many real life evolutions, including the topic of this book the gradual militarization of our civilian police forces from the late 1960s to the present, and the concomitant erosion of constitutional protections and the original Castle Doctrine focused not specifically on defending our home, but rather our general entitlement to peace in our home except under extraordinary circumstances I dare to say that this book is a must read for anyone concerned, as I am, about the militarization of our domestic police forces, and the brutality of the wars they fight the wars on drugs, terrorism, etc Triggered and fed by the cynicism of politicians of all stripes, who have no qualms about whipping the population into a frenzy that benefits them, these wars have led not only to increase militarization, but to the use of the resulting militarized forces in ever trivial scenarios There is a justification for SWAT teams and the like, but there is very little justification for how they have come to be really used mostly serving warrants on low level, non violent criminals, and that s when the get things right When they get things wrong, as they do often but lack of transparency means we don t know how often , they terrorize the completely innocent, put lives at risk and take them humans and pets with nearly complete impunity This heavily annotated work covers a huge range of topics The history of militarization The incentives, from special civil forfeiture laws covering federal drug crime, to the reuse of military gear whether it s needed or not, to community policing funds being distributed with no care as to their use, etc The lack of oversight, accountability, and transparency how courts complacency on warrants and rights and various support the police laws have led to a lower standard for police behavior, not a higher one How militarization can affect recruiting, and perpetuates an us versus them view How violence begets violence including police deaths , but how ironically SWAT teams typically do the bad ass bust down the door only when they DON T expect the occupants to be firing backThis is not an anti cop book It s a book about how the system is broken, and how lack of accountability and consequences leads inevitably to bad outcomes And if you had any before, you will have few political heroes left Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Obama, and very especially then Senator Biden they all escalated this in various ways All too often, the party out of power is outraged at police brutality against certain groups, only to embrace it against other groups when power is attained.It is not hopeless Social media and the proliferation of camera phones means that many things that were hidden are now seen The indiscriminate and unaccountable killing of pets does, for some reason, often raise hackles than the risk that is imposed on innocent children when violent raids happen to innocent people or non violent ones But it is grim In many ways, our police forces are MORE militarized with less oversight than our military This book aligns with my libertarian beliefs, and my cynical view of politicians, so I m not surprised that I like it But the author, a Huffington Post writer now but a former staffer at Reason Magazine, makes what I find to be a strong case against rampant militarization and especially the widespread application of this force I stand ready to read a rebuttal one that is as well supported and thoughtful in support of SWAT raids on barber shops, police departments with tanks and 50 cal machine guns, no accountability for mistakes, and the many positive benefits of the war on drugs Just point me to it