Rise of the Warrior Cop – a book review

Kelsey Maldonado is a current Graduate Assistant and graduate student with the Law Enforcement and Justice Administration Department. Kelsey spent the first four years of schooling as an undergraduate student here at Western Illinois University. She majored in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration, and minored in Spanish and Forensic Science. Currently, she is working on a thesis on the topic of detecting deception. With the completion of this work she will graduate from the university in the summer of 2019. Kelsey is looking toward the future considering both municipal Law Enforcement positions as well as Federal positions.

Rise of the Warrior Cop by Radley Balko examines the militarization of police forces. At the start of the book the author illustrates our beginnings. In colonial times the faction that did the policing of the people were the British soldiers. Balko expresses the impact the military force had on the public and for its part it contributed to the Revolutionary War. Once America standing on its own there was a need for policing among the new-found Americans and the standing military came to do the job until the adoption of what is known today as modern policing which can from Sir Robert Peele and his London police. The entire book works in chronological order to provide a full history of policing from the British military, to the 60’s and 70’s which saw the war of drugs. The author states that the war on drugs never truly ended and any money that was left over from other initiatives throughout the years went back to that cause. Balko talks at length about 9/11 and post 9/11 efforts to put anti-terror initiatives into place and the effect that had on the militarization of policing. Couple that with President Obama taking the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and the country has an abundance of military grade weapons that are in storage and end up being donated to police departments. At the finale of the book Balko gave six possible solutions for the militarization. First was to scale back the war on drugs, halt the use of SWAT teams where they are not effective, transparency (i.e. body cameras), increased community policing, change police culture to discourage violent behavior, and make police accountable. Overall, the work was informative, but there was not new insight into solutions as many of the ones suggested are already in place.