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How did America’s police become a military force on the streets? asks Radley Balko in ABA Journal

9 Jul

Editor’s Note: In a remarkable speech at the National Defense University in May, President Barack Obama signaled an end to the war on terrorism; maybe not an end, it turns out, but a winding down of the costly deployments, the wholesale use of drone warfare, and even the very rhetoric of war. Click here to read the full editor’s note.

Are cops constitutional?

In a 2001 article for the Seton Hall Constitutional Law Journal, the legal scholar and civil liberties activist Roger Roots posed just that question. Roots, a fairly radical libertarian, believes that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t allow for police as they exist today. At the very least, he argues, police departments, powers and practices today violate the document’s spirit and intent. “Under the criminal justice model known to the framers, professional police officers were unknown,” Roots writes.


Civil liberties activists say our nation’s police forces have become too militaristic—like this SWAT team participating in a drill in October–and are deployed even in nonviolent situations. Photo by AP/Elaine Thompson.
Read the rest here.