Former Cops Speak Out About Police Militarization

(RADLEY BALKO)   Since my book on police militarization came out a few weeks ago, it’s been interesting to see the reaction from law enforcement officials. As you might expect, much of it has been negative, particularly on police discussion boards around the Internet. But it hasn’t all been that way. At a Cato Institute forum on Capitol Hill last month, Mark Lomax of the National Tactical Officers Association said that as he read the book, he was nodding his head in agreement far more than he was shaking his head with disapproval. (Not exactly an endorsement, but I’ll take it!)

In the book, I interview lots of older and retired police officers, many of them with SWAT experience. I also cite other police chiefs and sheriffs over the years who have raised concerns about militarization. The divide among police on this issue isn’t political. One of the former police chiefs I interviewed — Norm Stamper of Seattle — is a progressive. Another — Joseph McNamara of San Jose and Kansas City — is a conservative at the Hoover Institution.


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