Militarisation of Police Actions

The equipment levels, training, dress and operational roles of many Police Departments in the US have led some commentators to speak of a ‘militarisation’ of the Police. At its most extreme, some see this transformation as part of a wider Federal agenda which includes increased surveillance and intelligence gathering and reduced
democratic freedoms through instruments such as the Patriot Act, all supported by a militarised Police Force. In
recent years, the use of so-called SWAT Teams (Special Weapons and Tactics) across the US has increased
significantly. There has been a rise in the number of local SWAT Teams in even the smallest police jurisdictions and most, if not all, have benefited from generous supplies of ex-military equipment from Federal resources. In societal terms, the preceding years from where it’s claimed this trend emerged, were also marked by the rise of the ‘internet of things’ providing a veritable blizzard of information; 9/11 and the systemic shock that followed; and the continued development of a more risk averse culture.

In this session, the underlying trends for Police deployment of special units will be examined to determine the validity of the aforementioned assertions along with a comparative analysis of European policing models.