Rise of The Warrior Cop

Radley Blako provides a well–written examination of the history and politics America’s police forces.  In just reading the first two chapters I found myself thinking about the concept of police forces in ways that I have not before.  What was probably most surprising to me was how recent our modern conception of the police is.  Blako cites the Praetorians of the Roman Empire as the first recorded police force, but their origins and functions do not have a lot in common with our modern police forces.  He also talked a lot about the history of the British police, because, obviously, the United States took a lot of inspiration from the British.

It was also amazing to me that in some ways colonial Americans had more rights protecting them from British soldiers than we do today from our own police, with particular regards to the Fourth Amendment.  The simple fact that British law enforcement was not allowed to raid an individual’s house during the night and had to give the resident adequate time to unlock the door (should he or she choose so) gives a lot of perspective to what we accept as normal today.

I also really liked the points Blako made about the police’s role in the war on drugs.  It reminded me a lot of some of the things talked about in Righteous Dopefiend and Spatializing Blackness.  While both those books discussed the focus on punishment over rehabilitation carried out by successive administrations I did not know how actively anti treatment and rehabilitation they were.  The Reagan administration’s removal of psychiatrists from advisory positions in the drug war because they specialized in treatment, and according to the Reagan administration “treatment isn’t what we do” (143).

News:  http://abcnews.go.com/US/police-stun-gun-tennessee-nurse-refused-leave-emergency/story?id=54846737



Rise of the Warrior Cop

One of the first segments of Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop that grabbed my attention was his overview of the history of policing in the Occident. Specifically, as someone intrigued by Classical history and its parallels to the modern American Empire, I enjoyed the passages that elucidated the gradual accumulation of power among the praetorian guard in ancient Rome. Balko mentions how the guard transitioned from a paramilitary ring of bodyguards, then to a military policing force, before finally evolving into a powerful lobby that exerted influence over who the next emperor would be. Interestingly, this trajectory was mirrored by the ascendancy of the Schutzstaffel in Nazi Germany. Initially beginning as an elite subgroup of the SA with the specific task of guarding Hitler, their power exponentially expanded into a terrorizing police force in some regions, while simultaneously catapulting SS head Heinrich Himmler to the upper echelons of the Nazi regime. When reflecting on these roughly parallel developments of a police state, it appears that a common denominator is the emergence of police forces as political power brokers. If this were to happen in the United States, it would surely happen through the influence of the police lobby on members of Congress. Though lobbying is a problem in general for our democracy, the dangers of this lobby in particular are quite evident.

Although only a minor part of Balko’s book, I found his discussion on the constitutional grounds for drug prohibition to be extraordinarily fascinating, particularly because it shows how one ideology’s preferred judicial ruling may be used against them decades later. Of course, I am referring to the Supreme Court’s outrageous expansion of the Commerce Clause, which began with the New Deal-era court (Balko 87). Their decisions allowed Roosevelt to enact some of his progressive policies, and Roosevelt himself coerced the court into issuing them. However, it simultaneously gave Congress an unprecedented blank check to regulate business across the country. Eventually, this loosened Commerce Clause would be weaponized against the left, being utilized to give Constitutional grounds for blanket prohibition of the drug trade in the U.S. This is a perfect example of the dangers of expanded centralized power: it is very easy when your person is in power. However, once the Supreme Court grants this sweeping authority to regulate, it is very hard to reverse such a decision. Thus, if your political allies can make use of it, so can your political enemies.

Another part of the book that I found interesting, albeit depressing, was Balko’s analysis of the Supreme Court’s slow evisceration of the Fourth Amendment. Though in the ’90s the Supreme Court finally acknowledged the common law inclusion of the Castle Doctrine in the Fourth Amendment, it stood by previous decisions that more or less rendered this acknowledgment to be mere verbiage. As Balko puts it, “In the 1999 case United States v. Ramirez, the Court…formally ruled that the ‘destruction of evidence’ exception, the ‘threat to a police officer’ exception, and the ‘useless gesture’ exception all permitted police to break into a home without first knocking and announcing” (Balko 198-199). However, as Justice Brennan mentioned in the Ker decision, exigent circumstances, in most cases, seem to unnecessarily assume the guilt of the suspected person, which flies in the face of the legal presumption of innocence. It is disgusting that our society has stood by and blissfully allowed the Supreme Court to trample upon a right that has been enshrined in the common law since at least 1689.

Recent Event:


This article describes the Justice Team’s Network, which provides financial and emotional support to the family members of victims of police brutality.

Infographic Demonstrating the Socio-Financial Costs of the War on Drugs:


Rise of the Warrior Cop

One thing I found interesting about the book was how the author presented the material and his tone. His tone made me feel the anger towards police officers. He even asked cops if they were constitutional! His anger/hatred compels me because I have an opposite view, somewhat. I believe police officers do a great job protecting civilians. Yes, there have been a lot of controversial situations that have happened in the past few years. However, not all cops are bad and evil. Human error has played a huge role in these kinds of stories.

The structure of the book also intrigued me. The book was made to have a shift of type of policing through the chapters. Progressing through the book, you can see the incremental changes in the police forces’ actions. Some examples of the shift include more freedom to invade on private property, the disintegration of civil liberties, and arrests without a basis. Ever since 9/11, there have been policies that stem due to the current blurred the line between cop and soldier.

Lastly, one aspect of the police force that caught my eye was the no-knock raids. This is an optional tool that helps SWAT team busts on drugs. This piece of legislation had bad implications. It completely violated the castle doctrine and violated human rights of anyone and everyone inside. The behavior of the police officers raiding was not professional. Cussing out civilians and not having any respect for human lives is ridiculous.

Recent Event: Police’s Shifting Account of Black Man’s Death Raises Questions in Savannah 

 The official story of Ricky Boyd’s fatal encounter with law enforcement officers changed, then changed again. Savannah’s interim police chief, Mark Revenew, initially said that Mr. Boyd, a murder suspect, had fired on officers while they were trying to arrest him in front of his home in a workaday suburb far from the fountains and oak-shaded squares of the city’s historic core. Hours later, the police released a statement that did not mention Mr. Boyd doing any shooting, though it did say that he “confronted officers with a gun.” Then the Georgia Bureau of Investigation stated that Mr. Boyd had been armed with a BB pistol. Now the family is insisting that Mr. Boyd, 20, an African-American restaurant worker, was not armed at all. Their lawyer has accused the police of lying, and he claims that a photo taken by a neighbor just after the January shooting shows the BB pistol on the ground, a puzzling 43 feet from where Mr. Boyd fell.

Who’s next

Has America Changed?

This book, full of historical references and anecdotes on the War on drugs that have plagued the lives of some many Americans and communities since before our country’s birth, makes me wonder, “has The United States actually changed?” This book gives me the feeling the answer is: “no”. This question peaked my fancy in the very beginning of the book with the “right” to arrest any escaped slave in a free state. I can remember in history class in grade school and some middle school that slaves could escape and go to the free states and were not guaranteed freedom. I knew this growing up in Ohio we were basically the passway to Canada. Even though the law regarding slaves in free states was wrong, I didn’t realize how similar it is to the police and black men in today’s society. Back then you think of course it was scary to be a person of color, but it feels like that fear for people of color hasn’t changed. Instead of “masters”, we have police. Which scares me for others and I feel sympathetic toward people who feel like America has not progressed but just replaced.

Think of the children. They’re scared and internally screaming.

There were some quotes from kids like 8-year-olds and they were scared. They are scared of the police. They think police raiding people’s houses and instilling fear into the citizens is wrong. It just reminds me that kids should be listened to especially if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe. A bit unrelated, but there have been at least a few cases, where kids have felt uncomfortable with certain adults and the adults, have ended up being child offenders or just really inappropriate humans. I know that is not entirely related, I am saying that any voice is valid and should not be dismissed no matter how young.

Gotta put them somewhere

Recently, in an interview for my final project, I spoke with a woman from Linden, Ohio. We were discussing the gentrification occurring in Franklinton. Her main point, which is interesting, is that Franklinton has always been where poor working class people live. So, by gentrifying the area, the government is essentially kicking them out. Where are they going to go? The woman I was interviewing kept saying “You gotta put them somewhere”. She said she understands why gentrification happens, but with it must come affordable housing for low-income families. Otherwise, where are they going to go? Not many places left. Similar things are happening in California right now. How this related to the book is the notion that police aren’t inherently bad, but bad policy creates problems and therefore “bad” cops. This policy is to criminalize as many “dope smokers” and pushers as possible in order to decrease drug use and distribution. But this tactic has not worked and all the people who are criminalized for non-violent and usually non-threatening behavior end up deas, wronged, put in person, and hate the system they are stuck in. Innocent people are also involved due to this bad policy. Many stories were shared in the book revealing the extent of innocent life that was lost because of incompetence and lack of patience on the police side of things. So, in this book at least, it seems the policy that puts “bad” cops on the streets and those cops seem to have a vendor to kill people or put them in jail. That is where we are gonna put them.

This book reminded me of Netflix I just watched. It is not a recent news story but this show is just so relevant to the book and to today’s issues I have to include it instead. I recommend it to anyone who wants to sob and be angry at our police. Anyway, it is called “seven seconds” and it is described as: “When 15-year-old black cyclist Brenton Butler dies in a hit-and-run accident — with a white police officer behind the wheel of the vehicle — Jersey City explodes with racial tension. This crime drama explores the aftermath of the accident, which includes an attempted cover-up by the police department and a volatile trial. Assistant prosecutor KJ wants to prosecute the hit-and-run as a hate crime, in addition to a negligent homicide. The longer the case drags on without a resolution, the tenser the situation becomes. Emmy winner Regina King stars as Brenton’s churchgoing mother, Latrice”. Boom. (Also, Regina King is in this show and I love Regina King). 





Robo Cop

I was very intrigued by the war on drugs aspect of the book because it’s something I’ve always heard opinions on and knew the gist of but never explored it heavily. The first thing I was surprised to see was that the start of the war on drugs had a lot to do with national opinion. The fact that the poll of the attorneys, cops, and prosecutors asking what the solution was to lower local crime came back with the majority response to launch the war on drugs. I’ve always thought of the decision as being mostly Reagan’s not due to popular opinion of the government. I feel that it also says a lot about the type of people that are in our government because I’m not really sure why anyone would consider the war on drugs to be a good idea. Especially with the two main stipulations being marijuana Is a gateway drug and people using cocaine and heroin are too far gone to “bother saving”.

The terms of the war on drugs are what are so upsetting to me. To want to override miranda, get rid of bail and parole, spray pot farms with herbicides, and focus on enforcement rather than treatment and enlist the military in the war on drugs. All of these lead to awful outcomes and some even seem to be unconstitutional. There seems to be so much anger and violence behind these sentiments rather than concern and compassion. So much of the government and war on drugs are based in asserting and enforcing ego and power. There is a sense of superiority that the government is desperate to maintain. This is evident with the election of Turner who ran a legal marijuana farm giving him a sense of superiority.

I also like the conversations they explored with Betty Taylor. Seeing someone who had so much hope to be shut down just further enforces the toxicity within the institution. I also liked that she was so passionate about sex crimes and the way she explained the differences in each offensives effects on the greater population makes perfect sense. The way that the little girl in the raid felt about the SWAT team if the way I’ve looked at cops. They make me anxious and nervous because it’s almost as if they have no regulations they could do anything they want and I would have no way of protecting myself. IT’s so sad how this has all come to be and how it’s not getting any better. If anything its getting worse within our current social climate.


Here is an Op-Ed article on the opiod crisis and the revival of the war on drugs.

Here is a video that explains why the war on drugs failed.

Rise of the Warrior Cop, Fall of Freedom

Rise of the Warrior Cop is very dense in parts and yet surprisingly readable. Radley Balko breaks up the sometimes tedious historical and political information with very well told stories of incidents involving police. Because of the topic of my project for this course, I found this book very useful and ended up reading it in its entirety.  At times I was enjoying a history lesson that began in Ancient Rome and at other times I felt myself becoming angry due to the stories of police misconduct and abuse. Overall the book left me with a much deeper historical understanding of not only policing in America, but of the political workings behind it as well. The police, initially beginning out of a real need descend into a force that is not only not serving the best interests of their constituents, but is undermining them.

A key ingredient in this entire story is the drug war. The drug war is what lead to the vast majority of police abuses. Though the SWAT teams behind the abuses were born mostly from high profile violent incidents, their practical use was in serving drug warrants, usually 90% of the time or more. Balko shows us the effects of different administrations, mostly beginning with Nixon. Because of their desire to make political gains by being seen as “tough on crime,” they began the “drug war.” This was continued under Reagan, Clinton, the Bushes and even the beloved by the left, Barrack Obama. Of course Trump is eager to do the same thing. Numerous abuses and murders have been directly caused by the drug war. (Murders of innocent citizens by police) No-knock warrants justified by the drug war along with other policies all but eliminated the Castle doctrine over the decades. The picture Balko paints of the drug war shows what is in my opinion a paramilitary force that behaves in a shameful, hypocritical, stupid, and tyrannical way. These policies (and people) not only put themselves in harms way but also innocent Americans. These behaviors are prioritized because they can profit off forfeitures and seizures that policies have allowed them to keep in situations where narcotics are involved.

Balko also discusses the use of the flash bang in these raids. These dangerous weapons can cause severe injury and death and are a fire risk that have burned down numerous homes and apartments. Again we see the self-serving logic that police agencies use when defending the non-lethal weapons for use one citizens but by saying that the manufacturer was maiming them by making faulty products. Somehow it was and still is justified to lob a flash bang grenade into a home with no idea of who could be inside. These grenades have directly caused deaths of people and of officers when they went off unexpectedly. Additionally there is the long history of gunning down pets at the first defensive posture they make. I was aware of a lot of what this book talked about but seeing the details of the polices and funding and behaviors behind them led to an even more disturbing and sad picture.


Tulsa police profiting from the lucrative war on drugs and asset forfeiture laws. ours


This book really alarmed and scared me to be quite honest. I had no idea how much we are monitored daily. I have learned through past experiences and stories on the internet as well as news reports how social media can be closely monitored and personal information can get into the hands of the wrong person. However, the fact that we are monitored on what we search, what we buy online, and where we are is truly frightening. I feel like that is an invasion of privacy. I understand the idea of doing this to catch criminals online such as terrorists and hackers but, it brings up the controversial question of what is personal space as well as freedom and safety.

The idea of the digital footprint was interesting to hear and think about. I wouldn’t have ever thought about people having a specific social media platform. It seems like just going to school, taking the subway, or having a shopping spree in the mall will give you some kind of footprint as surveillance cameras record public space every second of every day. The authors raise this issue by means of social media, specifically Facebook. The put attention on how to be careful about what you post because even if you delete your account, the information you posted/shared will still be out on the internet.

Lastly, I found the amount of data credit card companies have collected to be astounding. I didn’t really know too much about credit card companies to start out with but this was definitely interesting to learn. Police agencies can track you based off of places where you have used an ATM or made a purchase. It makes sense to track criminals or suspicious people. But, tracking common innocent people is going a little overboard in my opinion. It feels like an intrusion on privacy and seems unnecessary.


“The Daily”-Spying on Americans

The link above is an article talking about the Republican push to release a classified memo that has brought attention to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and the long battle to determine when national security concerns outweigh civil liberties.

Surveillance–Daniel Delatte

What I found most interesting out of the whole idea of surveillance is that at this point it is all now unavoidable. Things that we do on a daily basis, like cell phone use, is always under surveillance. Being a casual citizen, doing casual citizen things, keeps you on watch regardless of background history.

Many would assume this to be an invasion of privacy. Even things we delete from places are never gone forever, they end up archived for future reference. For if someone desires to ever pull that information on you, you would then be exposed to a past you only artificially deleted.

Things have even went as far as to instituting fingerprint scanning on children in schools for lunch. It’s unimaginable the things that we do as American’s for things as simple as buying lunch, but for achieving something as necessary as a passport the task is difficult for someone. While we have our children being put into the the system early–under their own will– we should be focusing on getting those that would like to be apart and contribute, into it.

The digital age that we are living in is becoming far to invasive. The information that we put is becoming more sensitive and people are beginning to care less about their own privacy. For most, the internet is a gloating space. What they do is to show what they are doing to show others that they are enjoying their life more than others. We are far to much concerned with each other’s lives in my opinion.








Safe & Sorry



When reading this book my fear of surveillance grew exponentially. I’ve never been too worried about people tracking me or my information, I still don’t think I am but now my complacency comes from a place of knowing I can only do so much, and the rest is out of my hands. This book really brings to light all of the ways that we’ve unknowingly been watched our entire lives.

              This was emphasized for me when reading about our phones. I always knew I was being watched but not the extent. I had also never thought about the way information is saved. I have considered the possibility of being surveyed in real time but not about the mass amounts of data being collected about me. There are many ways that this tracking helps us to personalize our technological experience, but this personalization may also lead to a thin field of view of our world.

              That personalized view takes me to my next point which is the way in which we experience the world. Our technology tracks our actions to bring us content that aligns with our past browses. This is extremely helpful for finding more resources and browsing the content that we enjoy rather than sorting through everything but that sorting through of information is what helps us experience other points of view. As social media becomes many peoples main source of news we end up in our own bubbles. I remember with the past election everyone I knew was sure of the way the election would go, they were wrong because they only spoke to people and took in media of like minds. Being in an urban environment they were very isolated from many communities of the United States.  We are so lucky to have the diversity that we have but this filtered view takes a lot of that diversity away.

Lastly, I was struck by the hierarchy of those being tracked. It lead me to question who is surveying the surveyors and what control do those in power have over the information being kept. On the opposite end of the spectrum those without cell phones, credit cards, and ID are also being forgotten by the surveillance. They are becoming more and more marginalized from society. This was emphasized for me again in the chapter about surveillance in the workplace. Those with traditionally lower level careers are the most heavily regulated. Showing a distrust for those in those positions as well as a step towards atomization rather than humanity while people in positions more highly ranked in the company may not be regulated at all. This solidification of social hierarchy is one of my biggest apprehensions about growing surveillance.


This article talks about surveillance systems put in place to fine pedestrians. There are many reasons why we choose to make the choices we do, especially when breaking laws. This seems like a very strict policy that would then need to be regulated and sifted through after the infraction occurs. This leads to even less privacy and seems like a trend that could snowball and end poorly.

The video I’ve chosen to add is a news piece on the detective from  a CBS show called hunted. It follows couples trying to evade detection and get off of the grid while the “hunters” try to catch them. Contestants are usually foiled very quickly by surveillance cameras but it is somewhat fascinating to see how quickly the government can follow, track, and catch whoever they want.

Supervision Response

Supervision Response:

The first point of note in Gilliom and Monahan’s Supervision is their attempt to move away from historical models of surveillance like Bentham and Foucault’s panopticon. They argue that this is an unrealistic theoretical model that fails to correspond to the multiplicity of distinct observers in a modern surveillance society. While the panopticon features a central observer that tries to enforce “uniform discipline” on a society, the authors argue that instead, there are an assemblage of observers, such as credit card companies or the police, that seek too differentiate and categorize individuals. That is, they claim that modern surveillance societies yield differentiation and not uniformity in behavior. However, they also state that “The surveillance assemblage removes individuals and practices from social context” (22). This seems bizarre to me, for the removal from context implies a diminution in individuality, no different than the uniform discipline of Foucault. Sure, the number of observers are varied, as are their motivations, in a modern surveillance state, but it has a de facto effect of causing people to silence their individuality via monitoring their behavior. If anything, this discipline is only enhanced by the sheer magnitude of the network of observers in today’s times.

Another point of interest is when Gilliom and Monahan discuss is the increasing prevalence of on-site school resource officers. Consequently, it creates an atmosphere of distrust and fear in the educational setting, for the book describes officers as fashioning themselves as helpful role models while simultaneously trying to recruit finks. As for the latter endeavor, the authors assert that such recruitment or questioning violates students’ Miranda rights. Furthermore, due to the immediate presence of police officers, disruptions in the school that would have at one time been handled internally, such as through detention, are now being handled as criminal matters by the police. Considered altogether, this is a horrifying degradation of the rights of students, and a clear attempt to exterminate “deviancy” from the adolescent population. To this extent, this situation actually exemplifies the panopticon because any given student cannot know whether any other one is selling them out to the police. If they fink, the stakes are higher given that deviancy in school settings is being increasingly responded to with criminal charges. Thus, this only enhances a culture of fear and persecution, which only reinforces the self-regulation of behavior among students.

Finally, Gilliom and Monahan discuss the paternalistic surveillance system of Henry Ford, which he enforced on his workers. Indeed, he went to the length of establishing what was basically a department of private investigators, whose task it was to keep tabs on the lives and activities of Ford workers. If they refused to take investigators’ instructions on how to conduct their lives, the livelihood of these laborers was put into question. Although many of the activities being monitored could lead to similar firings today, such as with substance abuse, even affairs like budgeting were dictated to these workers by a fellow Ford employee. Thus, this not only enforces self-regulation of behavior but also establishes a power-dynamic among employees of the company. Not only will this power dynamic be used to enforce the mores of this “superior” employee but also is the foundation of this employee’s power. Furthermore, by creating a hierarchy among laborers, this practice prevents the kind of workers’ solidarity that would be necessary for resistance to Ford’s paternalistic practices.

Article Regarding Facebook Surveillance and the Cambridge Analytica Scandal:


Map of Surveillance States in the Western World:

Surveillance map.0