Police Militarization: Reality, Hype, or Natural Evolution?

Tragic events such as the 2014 Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. and the police-involved death of Eric Garner in New York City has spurred debate about whether or not police departments within the U.S. are becoming more militarized.


By Dr. Allan Conkey
In Public Safety

Tragic events such as the 2014 Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. and the police-involved death of Eric Garner in New York City has spurred debate about whether or not police departments within the U.S. are becoming more militarized. The emphasis seems to be on the word “more,” implying that militarization is somehow a foregone conclusion and the question is how much more militarized they will become.

Such police-involved incidents are not in themselves evidence that police are or are not becoming militarized. The term “militarization” is often confused with advances in equipment and techniques based on a changing world (versus true militarization). A police force benefitting from military equipment and training is not necessarily a bad thing.

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