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A paramilitary policing juggernaut.

Juggernaut: "Anything that draws blind and destructive devotion ..."

--American Heritage Dictionary, 2005

IT IS THE CONTENTION OF THIS ARTICLE THAT THE UNITED STATES IS CURRENTLY enmeshed in a potentially unstoppable global phenomenon that we characterize as a paramilitary policing juggernaut. Two forces drive this juggernaut. The first is the modern state's need to counteract the "clandestine dimensions of globalization" (Andreas, 2003: 108). The second is the proclivity of civilian police forces to adopt militarized forms of policing.

Unless a greater awareness of this phenomenon is generated, the United States and its allies will travel the same path as that of countries like Israel, which is today battling the aftereffects of having adopted a militarized ideology of policing in which the "offender" is treated as an "enemy." Though neoliberal globalization may be the primary cause of this phenomenon, U.S. support for the use of paramilitary police in peacekeeping operations may inadvertently encourage even greater militarization of policing across the international community. Thus, unless these forces are controlled, the paramilitary policing juggernaut threatens to run roughshod over the provision of democratic policing on a global scale.

This article begins by defining the key terms of police "militarism," "militarization," and "paramilitary policing." After elucidating the principal drivers of the paramilitary policing juggernaut, we examine its effects on democratic policing in the United States and abroad. Finally, after discussing the inherent difficulties involved in containing the juggernaut, we offer suggestions for action in this regard.

Militarism, Militarization, and Paramilitary Police

The most prominent scholar on the issue, Peter Kraska (2007: 3), best defines the distinction between police "militarism" and "militarization." The former he defines "in its most basic sense as an ideology ... that [stresses] the use of force and threat of violence as the most appropriate and efficacious means to solve problems," while defining the latter as "the implementation of [that] ideology." Thus, by Kraska's definition, militarization is actually a process through which police agencies adopt an increasingly martial culture, organization, material, and modus operandi.

The term "paramilitary policing" has multiple meanings. It generally refers to "armed forces of the state that have both military capabilities and police powers" (Perito, 2004: 46). Although the paramilitary policing juggernaut identified here primarily concerns the militarization of the police, a second trend has become apparent, that of the "police-ization" of the U.S. military (Kraska, 2007). As these trends continue to converge, a "paramilitarization" of U.S. security is becoming increasingly evident.

Paramilitary police are thus the most obvious manifestation of the adoption of a militarized ideology of policing, or the militarization of the police. The more militarized the police become, the more they come to resemble their military counterparts, both in ideology and form. Significantly, militarized police or paramilitary police tend to: (1) deploy as units rather than as individuals; (2) seek training from military personnel in the use of sophisticated weaponry, special apparel, and equipment; and (3) adopt a system of rank that replicates the structure of the military (Scobell and Hammitt, 1998).

Though the United States has never had a specific paramilitary police force, such forces are common in other countries. The most famous of these include the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri, and the Spanish Guardia Civil. These "gendarmeries," as they are informally called, generally compose a significant proportion of each nation's respective police forces and their militarized nature is usually manifest in their submission to the authority of their ministries of defense (Waddington, 1991). In contrast, paramilitary police personnel in Anglo-Saxon countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia tend to operate as paramilitary police units (PPUs) under the authority of their respective civil police organizations. Such PPUs have been known by many different names, including: Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Emergency Response Teams (ERT), and Special Patrol Groups (SPG). The proliferation of PPUs across the United States is now the most discernible symptom of a greater malaise affecting U.S. policing: its militarization.

The Drivers of Paramilitary Policing

Counteracting the Clandestine Effects of Globalization

As Peter Kraska (2007: 1) has documented for over a decade, U.S. citizens have become "witnesses to a little noticed but nonetheless momentous historical change--the traditional distinctions between military/police, war/law enforcement, and internal/external security are rapidly blurring." Though these effects are empirically evident, the cause remains deeply contested. Two principal schools of thought exist, which Tony Fitzpatrick (2001: 216-217) calls the "exogenous" and "endogenous" explanations of globalization. The former "refers to those processes and flows [of globalization] that exhibit an autonomous, independent reality [on states]" (p. 216). In this explanation, states are seen primarily as actors reacting to, and evolving in, a neoliberal economic structure. Globalization is thus an independent force that is "transforming both the nature of the sovereign state in the international system and the relations between the two" (Patman, 2006: 982).

Peter Andreas and Richard Price (2001) highlight this process in their article, "From War Fighting to Crime Fighting: Transforming the American National Security State," in which they argue that the traditional functional distinction between military and police is an artifact of the emergence of a particular kind of state at a particular period of time. Only by recognizing this, they believe, will scholars be "better placed to consider the kinds of contemporary developments that may be harbingers of another kind of state, in another historical epoch, with other forms of organized violence" (p. 34). Andreas (2003: 84) develops this theme in a later article, in which he suggests that despite a decline in "the traditional military and economic functions of borders ... the use of border controls to police the clandestine side of globalization has expanded." The "clandestine side of globalization" to which he refers principally involves "clandestine transnational actors (CTAs)," who are defined as:
 nonstate actors who operate across national borders in violation of
 state laws and who attempt to evade law enforcement. CTAs are as
 dramatically varied as their motives. They may be driven by high
 profits and market demand (e.g., drug traffickers and migrant
 smugglers), the desire to carry out politically or religiously
 inspired acts of violence (terrorists), or the search for
 employment or refuge (the vast majority of unauthorized migrants)
 .... CTAs have existed in one form or another for as long as states
 have imposed border controls. What has changed over time are the
 organization of CTAs and their methods and speed of cross-border
 movement; state laws and the form, intensity, and focus of their
 enforcement; and the level of public anxiety and policy attention
 (pp. 78-79).

Thus, for Andreas, geopolitics has not been transcended by globalization, but merely transformed (p. 108). It is now essentially based on law-enforcement concerns (p. 80). The end product of this evolution from the "warfare" state to the "crimefare" state (p. 52), as Andreas and Price have described it, is that the "coercive apparatus of the state [is being] reconfigured and redeployed ... [with a] growing fusion between law enforcement and national security missions, institutions, strategies, and technologies ... . [This is reflected in] both a militarization of policing and a domestication of soldiering"(2001:31). Derek Lutterbeck's (2004, 2005) work documents these effects and chronicles the transformation of European and North American border policing from a defensive to a more "proactive" or "military-type approach." For Lutterbeck (2005: 232), the fact that border security gendarmes have witnessed the greatest growth rates in post-Cold War European law enforcement is understandable given that CTAs "defy the distinction between internal and external security," and have thus "led to the expansion of security forces that are also located across this divide."

Another contributing factor to the militarization of policing is the tendency of the state to treat all CTAs as a threat to national security. Consequently, criminal and social issues such as drug-trafficking, illegal immigration, and organized crime have been subsumed under the mantle of counterterrorism. Ronald Crelinsten (1998) believes that this has partly resulted from a practical response to the similarly clandestine nature of CTAs. Since counterterrorist agencies have expertise in dealing with clandestine organizations, it is sensible for them to police other types of CTAs (p. 389). This tendency, he believes, stems from the search by the state's "agencies of social control" for new enemies after the Cold War. After exaggerating the threat, they begin to "engage in claims-making activity ... that they need new powers, new jurisdictions, new networks of cooperation, new power-sharing arrangements, all because of the transnational nature of the threat" (p. 398). As Crelinsten acknowledges, Didier Bigo identified this behavior as "an attempt at insecuritization of daily life by security professionals in order to increase a sense of societal insecurity and thereby justify increased intervention of policing in a wide variety of areas" (p. 401). The result is what Bigo has called a "militarization of the societal" through which "the same coercive solutions are proposed for any number of social problems" (Ibid.). Moreover, for security professionals in post-Cold War Europe, the distinction between state security and societal security does not appear to exist (p. 409).

Tony Fitzpatrick (2001) and Jude McCulloch (2007) also stress the state's construction of threats in response to globalization. Fitzpatrick argues that as "global capital becomes apparently unmanageable" and "as the polity and the economy detach after a century of alignment," the state must give itself something to do. Thus, the state "socially and discursively constructs threats that only it can address through ... punitive responses to the chaos it has |helped facilitate]" (p. 220). "In short, as the state can no longer guarantee the well-being of freedom and security in return for mass loyalty, it preserves its political authority through the juridification, policing, and active enforcement of citizenship obligations" (p. 221). Similarly, McCulloch argues that "the construction of a transnational crime threat provides a productive fiction, establishing a rhetorical platform for the transformation and extension of the coercive capacities of states" (p. 19). McCulloch appears to bridge the divide between the "exogenous" and "endogenous" explanations of globalization, the latter of which suggests that globalization is actually an ideologically driven construct (Fitzpatrick, 2001:216). In McCulloch's account, the construction of transnational threats is inherently concerned with the maintenance of social, political, and economic hierarchies, both within and between states (p. 19). Thus, "the major success of transnational crime is a progressing neoliberal globalization that amounts to the internationalization of U.S.-centered, pro-market, anti-welfare, deregulatory policies" (p. 28). Though the debate between these schools will inevitably continue, Fitzpatrick is correct to note that the strength of the endogenous explanation is that it "makes room for processes ... that cannot be simply treated as the strategic effects of ruling elites ... [while] the strength of the endogenous explanation is in reminding us that the global stage has dominant actors" (pp. 216-217).

Despite their differences, both schools agree that the "War on Terrorism" was not the beginning of this phenomenon, but just another catalyst or excuse for greater militarization. The militarization of policing due to an amplification of national security threats has been discernable since at least the late 1970s, when the "War on Drugs" eventually led Congress to amend the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act (PCA), which had hitherto maintained a clear delineation between police and soldiers. By authorizing the transfer of military training and weaponry to federal, state, and local police agencies, in order to allow the military to assist law enforcement in combating the drug trade, the 1981 Cooperation Act set off a national trend in law enforcement to adopt military objectives, methods, and equipment. Following the Oklahoma City bombing incident in 1995, President Bill Clinton proposed amending the PCA "to allow the military to aid civilian authorities in investigations involving 'weapons of mass destruction'" (Hammond, 1997: 954). In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Bush administration sought to gut the PCA to allow the military a wider role in disaster relief efforts (The Progressive, 2005). Stephen Muzzatti (2005) has also documented how, using "successful" drug task forces as a model, U.S. law-enforcement agencies sought to create Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) with the FBI throughout the 1990s. By the end of 2001, there were already close to 100 such units. Thus, in Muzzatti's opinion, rather than initiating the process of police militarization, the "War on Terrorism" has "normalized and accelerated" it.

The Institutional Proclivity of Police Forces Toward Militarized Forms

With the instrumental role played by the state in propagating the militarization of policing now obvious, it is also true that the paramilitary policing juggernaut would not be what it is today if such policies had not fallen on fertile ground. The ease with which U.S. policing has adopted paramilitary policies is also due to an institutional proclivity to perceive criminal problems through a militarized lens. This is arguably a result of the nature of police forces in general. As Kraska (2007) explains, every police force is to some extent militarized. The only question is to what degree. So, when police forces are encouraged to adopt a greater degree of militarism, there may be little inertia to overcome.

The flipside of this is that when non-militarized policies are encouraged, there will be a certain degree of institutional obstructionism. This may become evident in attempts to circumvent such new policies, or even to interpret them through a persistent militaristic perspective. For example, Sergio Herzog (2001:184) notes that U.S. policing has been characterized as moving away from a paramilitary model to one of a less militaristic nature, in particular that of Community Policing (COP), yet "a simultaneous secondary trend [has existed[ towards an even more militarized model of policing than before, mainly for handling serious crime and public order disturbances." Herzog also points to the irony that when under pressure to adopt the COP strategy, many police commands and officers perceived paramilitary policing units as determining the changes toward COPs because they constituted a more appropriate means for accomplishing community goals and values (p. 186).

Kraska (2007: 8) asserts that paramilitary policing is not flourishing as a "backstage phenomenon, [or] operating as a form of resistance, or corrective, to the immense political pressures [being] put on the American police to adopt [COP] reforms," as many have argued. Rather, advocates of paramilitary policing have interpreted and applied community policing through a "weed and seed" strategy that requires PPUs to first "weed out undesirables," before other programs are introduced to "seed the community." This helps to explain why the proliferation of PPUs began to reach astonishing levels, with figures showing approximately 90% of American cities with a population of 50,000 or more having some kind of PPU by the mid-1990s (twice as many as l0 years earlier) and 70% of cities with smaller populations possessing one (Kraska and Cubellis, 2004).

Given this proclivity toward militarism, it is not surprising that police agencies have been keen recipients of equipment and training from the U.S. military (after the weakening of the PCA) and private companies. Between 1995 and 1997 alone, the Department of Defense (DoD) donated 1.2 million pieces of military hardware to domestic police departments, including M-16 assault rifles, grenade launchers, and armored personnel carriers (Balko, 2006). Sometimes, this cooperation can go beyond training and equipping, as in the case of the "Waco Compound" in Texas, when military special operations consultants were brought in to aid in the planning of the initial and final raids (Kraska, 1999: 143).

Compounding this state of affairs are the interests of a network of private military firms, security contractors, and gun manufacturers. For example, the now infamous security company, Blackwater (renamed Xe in 2009), has trained civilian police officers in the more technical aspects of urban warfare (Scahill, 2007; Chalmers and Williams, 2007) and organized competitions such as the World SWAT Challenge of 2004 at its firearms training center in North Carolina (Singer, 2004). Gun manufacturers like Heckler and Koch have been known to market their submachine guns at reduced prices to police forces as weapons utilized from the "Gulf War to the Drug War" (Kraska, 1999: 152). The proclivity toward militarism in the police may also be a self-interested response to funding opportunities. Since the U.S. government allocates approximately $12 billion per year to agencies fighting the "War on Drugs" (not including amounts spent by state and local government), there can be little surprise that police forces tend to seek their fair share. Federal grants from the Department of Homeland Security have also enabled state and local police departments to strengthen the capabilities of existing PPUs or to establish new ones (Chalmers and Williams, 2007; Savage, 2007).

Finally, an apparent hyper-masculine aesthetic within civilian police organizations makes the paramilitary style of policing particularly attractive. Images of SWAT officers clad in military uniforms, while toting machine guns and assault rifles, have appeared countless times on magazine covers, in movies, television programs, and on police department websites. Such images can only contribute to a "warrior" mindset and culture within PPUs and police forces in general (Weber, 1999).

Undermining Democratic Policing in the United States

According to David H. Bayley (2001: 14), democratic policing is predicated on four principal norms: (1) that police "must give top operational priority to servicing the needs of individual citizens and private groups"; (2) that they "must be accountable to the law rather than the government"; (3) that they should "protect human rights, especially those that are required for the sort of unfettered political activity that is the hallmark of democracy"; and (4) that they "should be transparent in their activities." By undermining these norms, the paramilitary policing juggernaut subverts democratic policing in the United States.

Evidence of this predicament is burgeoning. Like the scholars covered above who discussed the state and globalization, Daryl Meeks (2006: 37) argues that U.S. policing is increasingly moving toward a "military operational model" that encourages "street-level officers, as well as law enforcement executives, to adopt the view that the inner-city environment is a war-zone and the enemy is the urban underclass." This militarization is occurring despite official statistics showing that violent crime rates are decreasing.

Muzzatti (2005: 120) has also documented that U.S. policing is inappropriately criminalizing social problems and conflating "the exercise of constitutionally protected rights with crime, insurrection, and terrorism." For example, he notes that in preparing for the potential Y2K disaster, U.S. law enforcement defined the public as the "enemy." Similarly, he believes that through legislation such as the PATRIOT Act and the Homeland Security Act, the "War on Terrorism" has become a "catchall category" used by the police to criminalize "a wide range of nonviolent political and social activists committed to progressive social change" (p. 120).

There is, perhaps, no better example of this phenomenon than the "Battle in Seattle" of 1999. The corrupting effects militarization can have on Bayley's norms of democratic policing were made amply apparent in a subsequent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report that condemned the Seattle police for transforming a protest over the World Trade Organization into a combat zone. Drawing on some 500 eyewitness accounts, the ACLU report painted a disturbing picture of police taking extreme measures against protesters and non-participants. The following are but a representative sampling from that report:

* The Seattle Police Department used massive amounts of teargas against crowds even when such use was not necessary to protect public safety and the safety of officers.

* Rubber bullets were used against people who posed no threat. They were also used against largely nonviolent crowds and against individuals who were engaged in passive resistance or were fleeing.

* Police officers were not making split-second decisions in emergency situations. They simply used their weapons on people who offended them or caught their attention. Officers also used clubs, teargas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets against individual bystanders in downtown Seattle. (In Out of Control: Seattle's Flawed Response to Protests Against the Worm Trade Organization, June 2000, ACLU of Washington.)

This kind of behavior is most prevalent among police teams trained in the use of military tactics, equipment, and maneuvers. As Balko (2006: 1) has shown, such PPUs increasingly "subject nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they're sleeping." And these pernicious effects are becoming more common, given that PPU "call outs" have begun to reach into virtually every aspect of civic life, including breaking up fights on school property, conducting raids on illegal gambling operations, crowd control duties, and saturation patrolling of suspected "crime-prone" minority neighborhoods (Ibid.).

Finally, the paramilitary policing juggernaut is likely to crush the complimentary norms of democratic policing: transparency and accountability. Militarization and the use of PPUs are always accompanied by arguments for greater security and secrecy to protect police operations. For example, the street-skills training of PPUs is usually deemed to be an internal matter not subject to citizen input or external review. Kraska and Cubellis (2004) have warned that further militarization of the police may encourage an explicit "means justifies the ends" mentality in which due process and justice are subverted to "necessity and expediency," and miscarriages of justice hidden under "secrecy." This lack of transparency makes it difficult to detect and investigate police corruption. Nathan Pino and Michael Wiatrowski (2006) have found that paramilitarism in the police leads to increased complaints and lawsuits, lower levels of support among the populace, and can impede creative ideas.

Undermining Democratic Policing Abroad

Since all states operating in the globalized neoliberal economic market are subject to the same pressures, a similar militarization of their policing should be expected. Indeed, at least in regions where studies have been conducted, such as Western Europe and Australia, this is already evident (McCulloch, 2001; Lutterbeck, 2005, 2004). However, there is reason to believe that U.S. support for foreign paramilitary police forces and PPUs abroad is intensifying this process.

Following its fateful involvement in Vietnam, Congress tried to end U.S. support for foreign police forces in 1974 through Sec. 660 of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA). However, subsequent administrations circumvented the act to continue their support for anticommunist governments, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean (Hills, 2006). By 1986, Congress had become sufficiently comfortable with such regional assistance that it passed Sec. 534 of the FAA, which established the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program to provide training to foreign police forces in the context of Administration of Justice programs administered by the Agency for International Development (Perito, 2002: 18-19). Though its remit was limited in its formative years, the invasion of Panama exposed inadequacies in the institutional capacity to train foreign police forces, spurring Congress to expand the program in 1990 to include the reconstitution of "civilian police authority and capability" in nations "emerging from instability."

U.S. involvement in peacekeeping operations throughout the 1990s, especially in the former Yugoslavia, led to greater use of paramilitary police units to close the "security gap"--the gray area between the appropriate roles for unarmed civilian police and the use of military forces (Hill, Beger, and Zanetti, 2007). By February 2000, the Clinton administration was sufficiently convinced of the utility of these forces to release its Presidential Decision Directive 71 on "strengthening criminal justice systems in support of U.S. peace operations," which advocated "that U.N. missions make use of a suitable mix of military and/or paramilitary forces to accomplish the assigned tasks of any new peace operation [because] such forces bring specialized skills, such as crowd control capabilities, that are not common to traditional military or civilian police organizations." These forces, it argued, were "most effective when deployed as units rather than individuals" (PDD 71, 2000).

To increase the supply of paramilitary police forces for these missions, at their Sea Island Summit in June 2004 the G8 leaders called for the creation of "an international training center that would serve as a Center of Excellence to provide training and skills for peace support operations" (Dziedzic and Stark, 2006). Thus, in March 2005 the Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (COESPU) was established in Vicenza, Italy, to "serve as a doctrinal hub for stability policing and to provide training for future SPU commanders, mid-grade officers, and NCOs" (Dziedzic and Stark, 2006). In September 2005, an agreement formalizing U.S. support for COESPU was signed with Italy. The center hopes to train 3,000 stability police trainers by 2010 and countries with personnel attending include India, Jordan, Kenya, and Senegal. In December 2004, five European Union countries with indigenous paramilitary police forces (France, Italy, Portugal, The Netherlands, and Spain) also announced the formation of a European Gendarmerie Force (EGF or EUROGENDFOR), which is now available for crisis management operations under the authority of the E.U., U.N., NATO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or ad hoc coalitions (Dziedzic and Stark, 2006).

Though many believe the creation of a multinational gendarmerie force for use in peace-support missions is a welcome development, the danger remains that it could create even more incentives to militarize policing on an international scale. It is telling, for example, that although designed to deal only with events unsuited to heavily armed military forces or to lightly armed civilian police (the security gap), of the 7,160 police personnel deployed in U.N. peace-support operations at the end of 2005, over half were already paramilitary police, deployed in 27 units. The reasons for this sea change are understandable. Formed Police Units (FPU), as they are called when deployed under U.N. command, are better trained than typical civilian police volunteers, are logistically independent, and are ready to deploy at short notice. They are also significantly cheaper to deploy and maintain in the field (Dziedzic and Stark, 2006).

However, the inherent dangers of this new reliance on paramilitary police are obvious. As Alice Hills (2001: 92) has warned, "in post-conflict societies in which the presence of paramilitary forces was historically synonymous with political repression, the use of paramilitary units could [represent] a militarization of policing that may create more problems than it solves, sending the wrong signals in processes of reconciliation and democratization." Thus, it is essential that adequate public debate take place concerning the efficacy of using such forces in these operations, which are designed to restore law and order and to (re)build democratic institutions. As in the United States, however, transparency and accountability may not be a characteristic of the paramilitary policing juggernaut abroad. Article 29.3 of the treaty establishing the EGF gives immunity to its personnel, so that "from a criminal law point of view ... there may be insufficient legal safeguards and insufficient remedies should it or any individual operative act illegally in the conduct of a mission" (Santoro, 2008: 70).

Controlling the Growth of Paramilitary Policing

This article, in highlighting the cause and effects of the paramilitary policing juggernaut, does not argue against any role for paramilitary policing. This is true for U.S. domestic policing and for the provision of policing in international peacekeeping operations. In certain circumstances, such as hostage crises or terrorist attacks, the use of PPUs can be a perfectly calibrated response to grave threats that lie outside the competence of regular police officers. Equally, the limited use of paramilitary units in peacekeeping operations can help to close the security gap and thus reduce the likelihood of an excessive use of force in the provision of public security. Nevertheless, the principal argument here remains that a combination of ignorance and uncritical acceptance of police militarization has increasingly undermined democratic policing.

If left unchecked, the danger exists that the militarization of policing will reach a point of no return or, at least, a point at which it is very difficult to return. The Israeli National Police (INP) represents perhaps the best example. Sergio Herzog (2001: 188), having studied the militarized ideology of policing adopted by the INP--in which the "offender" is perceived as an "enemy who only understands the language of force"--concludes that such approaches tend "to induce 'pre-violence behavior,' namely, exaggerated suspicion, rude and inconsiderate conduct, resort to unreasonable and unnecessary measures, unwillingness to explain or to listen, and acceptance of violence for its own sake." Herzog also proffers an equally prescient warning about the difficulties of demilitarizing the police. Despite attempts to demilitarize the INP since 1994, he notes, "the prevailing police subculture [still] boasts a strong esprit de corps (as in the army), which serves to perpetuate alienation and separation from the public. An 'us against them' stand still prevails regarding anyone who 'isn't a cop,' particularly minorities (Palestinians and Israeli Arabs) or groups identified as 'typical criminal offenders'" (p. 188). Not surprisingly, Herzog concludes from the Israeli experience that "the blurring of limits between the military and police force has always been disadvantageous for the public, whom the latter is supposed to serve" (pp. 205-206).

Controlling the paramilitary policing juggernaut before it reaches such a level is thus essential to the future of democratic policing in the United States and overseas. This will not be easy since powerful forces drive police militarization. Opportunities to slow its momentum and perhaps establish a footing for its eventual reversal do exist. For instance, to "put teeth" into the Posse Comitatus Act, Bloeser (2003: 30) proposes the following measures:

* Increase the penalty provision to allow a maximum of 10 years in prison and mandatory restitution to the victim, with required prison time if death or significant physical injury results.

* Allow criminal liability for those up the chain of command if intentional failure to supervise contributed to the [PCA] violation.

* Require military personnel, perhaps by anonymous identification number, to report PCA violations directly to an independent office at the Department of Justice and provide protection to reporting individuals against retribution.

Another effective measure might be to add language to the PCA that would prohibit the transfer of surplus military hardware to civilian law enforcement and police training for use in military tactics and maneuvers (Bennett, 2006; Kealy, 2003).

Greater public awareness will be essential to overcoming ignorance and controlling the spread of the paramilitary policing juggernaut. Academics can help to inform the public and policymakers about its dangers and foster policy discussions. For example, scholars at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a three-year study in which more than 1,000 persons were interviewed or participated in an online survey. Subjects in the study included persons from culturally diverse communities and police officers. Based on this strong empirical evidence, the final report noted that the Australian government's approach to terrorism was "to a large extent informed by counter-insurgency measures implemented in places such as Northern Ireland and Israel and to a lesser extent South Africa and Algeria during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s" (Pickering et al., 2007: 27). It concluded that "hard power" paramilitary police tactics to combat terrorism were making conditions worse by alienating members of ethnically diverse groups from law enforcement.

This case is not unique. Aggressive police tactics in the U.S. "War on Drugs" have reinforced negative public attitudes toward law enforcement, especially among people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods, with no decline in drug use (Nunn, 2002; Small, 2001). Lawmakers in several U.S. states have responded to an emerging backlash against the "War on Drugs" by introducing bills to repeal or modify civil forfeiture laws that law enforcement has used to seize personal property and other assets (frequently with no arrest) believed to have been used during the commission of a criminal act. Critics assert that law enforcement agencies have used asset forfeiture revenues to equip and send PPUs on "no-knock" drug raids, often conducted on the "wrong" premises (Shannon, 2007). According to studies by the Rand Corporation, among others, treatment is 10 times more cost effective than interdiction for reducing cocaine use in the United States (Rydell and Everingham, 1994). Based on these findings, ballot initiatives in California, Arizona, and Washington, D.C., have helped to retard the militarization of policing by calling for substance abusing offenders to be redirected into treatment programs (Drug Policy Alliance, 2002).

Evidence of escalating violence, together with the threat of lawsuits, has persuaded a growing number of civilian police organizations in cities such as Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Dinuba, California, to dismantle their PPUs, or at least to curtail their reach (Jordon, 2005; Balko, 2006). Police executives in other cities have removed PPUs from drug raids and suicide calls (Weber, 1999).

In terms of international peacekeeping, the long-term effects of greater reliance on FPUs must be assessed more seriously than is currently the case. For practical and political reasons, an organization such as the United Nations (which perpetually struggles to attract well trained and adequately funded civilian police) cannot refuse to deploy FPUs in current peacekeeping operations. However, an ongoing analysis of the potential effects of FPUs on indigenous police forces must be undertaken to produce greater confidence in the international community's ever-increasing reliance on them.

Demilitarizing policing in the incremental and multidimensional manner outlined above provides the only hope for controlling the paramilitary policing juggernaut in a neoliberal, globalizing world. Through cooperation, academics, lawyers, nongovernmental organizations, and the general public can synergistically analyze the rationale for, and process of, police militarization in policies such as the "War on Terrorism" and "War on Drugs."


This article seeks mainly to raise awareness of an unchecked paramilitary policing juggernaut that poses a threat to the provision of democratic policing in the United States and abroad. The longer the process continues, the more difficult it becomes to reverse it. This has been the experience of the Israeli National Police and, unless the paramilitary policing juggernaut is controlled, U.S. policing is likely to travel along the same path. Significantly, the United States has exacerbated the effects of this juggernaut throughout the international community by supporting paramilitary police forces in Europe and the deployment of FPUs in international peacekeeping operations. Adequate public discussion must take place on federal policies toward police militarization at home and abroad.

Though public awareness is essential, the tools and strategies to control the juggernaut must be developed before the process becomes irreversible. This article has suggested preliminary steps that might slow the juggernaut while the debate over militarization proceeds. These include, at a minimum, a strengthening of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, repeal of forfeiture laws, and an ongoing analysis of the long-term effects of FPUs on the civilian nature of indigenous police forces in countries that have experienced peacekeeping operations.


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Stephen Hill and Randall Beger *

* STEPHEN M. HILL is Associate Professor of international relations in the Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (e-mail: His research and teaching interests include paramilitary policing, peacekeeping, and conflict resolution. RANDALL R. BEGER is Professor of criminal justice in the Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (e-mail: His research and teaching interests include paramilitary policing, legal adaptation among refugees, and ex-offender reentry challenges.
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Author:Hill, Stephen; Beger, Randall
Publication:Social Justice
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2009
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