The police play a complex role in American society. A basic characteristic of policing is that they function to overcome resistance when dealing with a non-criminal task, an order maintenance issue, or a criminal event. The subject of police militarization as a tool for overcoming resistance peaked in 2014 primarily because of the police actions in Ferguson, MO. The use of armored vehicles, military-style uniforms, and rifles prompted a national conversation of the seemingly growing use of a militarized approach within policing.
Appearance seems to be the dominant rational for characterizing the police as being militarized. What was missing from the debate was a deeper understanding of police militarization from the perspective of those within law enforcement.
Review the origins and accuracy of the term “police militarization.”
Understand the research examining the issue of militarization from a historical perspective, and the outlook of police chiefs and tactical officers.
Understand the themes uncovered from the research that can function as pragmatic considerations for law enforcement agencies in their use of tactical equipment.