The recent protests in major cities nationwide against police violence have showcased the degree to which the lines between the police and military have been blurred. Weapons of war, including tanks, rifles, and paramilitary units, are increasingly being used by police on American streets.
SWAT raids, once used only in high-intensity situations like bank robberies or hostage takings, are now used regularly for low level crimes like drug possession. In fact, SWAT teams are now deployed 80,000 times per year, up from just 3,000 times in 1980.
How did this happen? In the second installment of the three-part video series on foreign policy below, Professor Abby Hall explains that it is largely due to the boomerang effect—where military tactics abroad reappear in policy tactics at home.
Military thinking also creeps into domestic policymaking through the War on Drugs and the War on Terror—wars that are waged partially in communities across the country.
But whether it is waged at home or abroad, war itself is one of the major reasons that community policing has turned into paramilitary control.