The Impact of Police Militarization

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The police force in the twenty-first century has undergone significant changes and new training to meet the constantly changing demands, as the world has come to understand. The new result is that, in accordance with the frequent crimes committed, the police now view the current situation as requiring the use of complex legal procedures. The concept of police militarization is beginning to become apparent, and in reality, the police discretion enables the officers of the law to prioritize and decide in the course of action that will be appropriate given the moral policies that are in place. It entails the process of enforcing the police with weapons and training them to gain skills that enable them to use force in the execution of their duty obligation (Krupicka 3).

Loss of Public Trust

Concerns have been raised after it became apparent that officers using discretion may meddle with due processes, misuse laws due to the unreviewable attribute of discretionary decisions, and have limitations in applying crime-deterrent effects (Braswell, McCarthy and McCarthy 45). While there are dual perspectives regarding the level of discretion that is permissible, it is affirmed that police militarization results in the use of excessive force and disregard to the rule of law and the constitution.

Increase in Discriminatory Acts

One of the adverse effects that result from the use of force by the police is that there is a consequent loss of trust by the public. The United States presents a classical example of a system that heavily relies on moral reasoning. Public opinion about the issue of punishment has always been a lead factor in the formulation of polices. The nature of action that the police demonstrate determines whether the public are likely to trust them with issues especially regarding reporting acts of constitutional infringement. The trust is developed from the passion that the police demonstrate in their willingness to act in an unbiased manner in protecting people and property so that there is efficiency in service delivery. It is largely defined by whether the police are approachable in the line of duty and how the police show effort in resecting the constitution. However, when they are allowed to use force, there is a subsequent loss of trust and people lose the confidence they have in the police. An example of an incidence that constituted the loss of trust in the police involved a case where a police was throwing tear gas are demonstrators in Oakland, California (Wyrick 6). Dressed in a healmet and face shields, it is clear that the police were oblivious to the fact that the demonstration itself shows that the public have lot trust in the police and are using protests as a way of airing their grievances. Thus, it is summed that the idea of police militarization has the setback of making people lose the trust and confidence they have in the process of laws enforcement as whole.

Infringement of Constitutional Rights

A related negative outcome of training the police to assume military responsibilities is that it would lead to an increase in discriminative acts. One of the greatest problems in the US is the subject of racial stereotyping that makes the public perceive it as unfair on others as it may appear to act differentially. The issue is evidenced by the fact that hardly does a year pass without cases of discrimination in the police being reported (Pollock 129). The problem arises when the police perceive selected groups or ethnic minorities as gangsters or brand them stereotypes who are anti-police and thus treat them differently from the rest of the population. Other populations such as Mexicans often complain about the issues related to discrimination by the police force and thus warrant that the process of police militarization will only complicate a bad situation (Banks 51). There are other cases that prove that the issue needs urgent intervention such as the manner in which the police act during border patrols. The outcome is that the police act discriminatively usually based on racial bias and thus creating a rhetoric fear in the public which makes illegal immigrants. Such discriminative acts that are best perceived through excessive use of police and targeting have the effect of severe disintegration of social cohesion and promote myriad conflicts between the police and the citizens.

Tarnishing the Nation's Reputation

The other way of perceiving police militarization as a problem is that they often infringe on the constitutional rights of those that they are supposed to protect. It is unfortunate that there have been reports about the police defiling the expected limits and engaging in destruction of property and intrusion into business premises without warrant. It demonstrates that the process of militarization is now meant to cause panic in the people who are expected to be confident that their personal effects are protected by the law enforcement agencies. Notable cases have been reported in the US with the most relevant being a case where the SWAT police were smashing private property for almost 100 times a day (Balko 44). It is an infringement of the Third Amendment. The ignorance of the public in this aspect has allowed for the continuity of unethical decision making in the society thus slowly crippling the justice system. Often the police are in helmets, facial gears, and other weapons and the public is rendered defenseless in the process and they cannot fight for their rights. The outcome is a feeling of fear and panic and a society where the rule of law and constitutional provisions are disregarded. Thus, it is an ironical reality when one realizes that the police are breaking the law when they ought to be the defenders of the constitutional provisions.


A further setback that is associated with the act of militarizing the police service is that it taints the nation's reputation in the global arena. The current age of globalization has ensured that American issues are followed in all parts of the world as people read and watch almost everything that happens within the States. It is thus undisputed that news and incidents of police using force leading to loss of lives and property are watched across the globe, much to the negative branding of the nation. It is supposed that the US is likely to be an unlikely destination for investors and tourists when they learn that the police are mandated by law to break into people's premises and attack unarmed citizens (Bieler and Bieler 599). In fact, it is even supposed that unscrupulous individuals may taint the name of the police as a whole. According to Banks, several factors such as the existence of unclear laws that may tend to have loopholes, lack of resources to facilitate proper decision-making, lack of community involvement, existence of standardized laws, and presence of petty situations, may promote the abuse of discretionary powers (Banks 50 ). The long-term effect of such militarization acts will be that the reputation of the US to the outside world will be destroyed adversely. It is even ludicrous that some scholars have tried to defend the acts by stating that it will promote accountability and professionalism of the police. It is based on the stereotypical understanding of the compact majority that harsh punishment is the key to eliminating criminal activities in the society. It is a misplaced argument because it fails to consider that the police profession is not defined by the use of force but rather on their ability to defend the law, respect personal property, and protect lives (Kraska 502).

The Need for Alternative Approaches

In summary, excessive police discretion in militarized police forces is unsuitable as it creates a scenario where the law enforcement disorients the criminal justice system. The police often infringe on the people's rights, usually contrary to the guidelines that are set and which they are expected to adhere. It further damages the trust that people have in the police and brands a bad reputation about the nation to foreign investors. It also promotes stereotyping and the racial discrimination meant to instill fear in the community. Thus, it is imperative that the US train the police in morals and seek to use alternative means of conflict resolution while ensuring that force is only used by the military to fight acts of terror.

Works Cited

Banks, Cyndi. Criminal Justice Ethics: Theory and Practice. London: Sage Publishers, 2013.

Balko, Radley. "Hod did America's Police become a Military Force on the Streets." ABAJ 99 (2013): 44.

Bieler, Sam, and Sam Bieler. "Police militarization in the USA: the state of the field." Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies &n Management 39.4 (2016): 586-600.

Braswell, Michael C., Belinda R. McCarthy and Bernard J. McCarthy. Justice, Crime, and Ethics. London: Routledge, 2011.

Kraska, P. B. “Militarization and Policing--Its Relevance to 21st Century Police.” Policing 1.4 (2007): 501–513. Web.

Krupicka, Benjamin. “Police Militarization in the United States: Reform Traditions and the Fallacy of Expertise.” Western Political Science Association (2015): n. pag. Print.

Pollock, Joycelyn. Ethical Dilemmas and Decisions in Criminal Justice. Cengage Learning: Boston, 2013.

Wyrick, Phillip T. Police Militarization: Attitudes Towards the Militarization of the American Police. Diss. East Tennessee State University, 2013.

June 08, 2024


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Police 21St Century Training

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