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Are Police in America Now a Military, Occupying Force?

By John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute
August 5, 2013

Despite the steady hue and cry by government agencies about the need for more police, more sophisticated weaponry, and the difficulties of preserving the peace and maintaining security in our modern age, the reality is far different. Indeed, violent crime in America has been on a steady decline, and if current trends continue, Americans will finish the year 2013 experiencing the lowest murder rate in over a century.

Despite this clear referendum on the fact that communities would be better served by smaller, demilitarized police forces, police agencies throughout the country are dramatically increasing in size and scope. Some of the nation’s larger cities boast police forces the size of small armies. (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg actually likes to brag that the NYPD is his personal army.) For example, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has reached a total of 10,000 officers. It takes its place alongside other cities boasting increasingly large police forces, including New York (36,000 officers) and Chicago (13,400 officers). When considered in terms of cops per square mile, Los Angeles assigns a whopping 469 officers per square mile, followed by New York with 303 officers per square mile, and Chicago with 227 cops per square mile.

Of course, such heavy police presence comes at a price. Los Angeles spends over $2 billion per year on the police force, a 36% increase within the last eight years. The LAPD currently consumes over 55% of Los Angeles’ discretionary budget, a 9% increase over the past nine years. Meanwhile, street repair and maintenance spending has declined by 36%, and in 2011, one-fifth of the city’s fire stations lost units, increasing response times for 911 medical emergencies.

For those who want to credit hefty police forces for declining crime rates, the data just doesn’t show a direct correlation. In fact, many cities across the country actually saw decreases in crime rates during the 1990s in the wake of increasing prison sentences and the waning crack-cocaine epidemic. Cities such as Seattle and Dallas actually cut their police forces during this time and still saw crime rates drop.

As I point out in my new book, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there was a time in our nation’s history when Americans would have revolted against the prospect of city police forces the size of small armies, or rampaging SWAT teams tearing through doors and terrorizing families. Today, the SWAT team is largely sold to the American public by way of the media, through reality TV shows such as Cops, Armed and Famous, and Police Women of Broward County, and by politicians well-versed in promising greater security in exchange for the government being given greater freedom to operate as it sees fit outside the framework of the Constitution.


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I think many people confuse

I think many people confuse modernization with militarization. I don't know how much the police departments you mentioned grew but I would be especially interested in seeing what the officer to citizen ratio was in your comparison as opposed to to square mile.

What would you call all the

What would you call all the police in Boston after the bombing? Modern?

I would call that a violation

I would call that a violation of the 4th amendment. I also didn't say that it doesn't exist I just say that people tend to confuse the two.

Functionally, yes. I'm

Functionally, yes. I'm largely referring to appointed police departments, not elected county sheriffs. Police departments are becoming an extension of the military-industrial complex which is an unaccountable and fascist merger of state and corporate power.

Two words:

Standing army.

Simple Facts and Plain Arguments
A common sense take on politics and current events.


Do you think?

I don't know if the majority of US police would full scale fire on the American people. I know there have been isolated incidents (the uni protest in the 60's), but they are far and few between.
Maybe the money being spent goes to the MIC to enrich them, and impoverish cities, enabling a UN Agenda 21 take over?

Does it mater if they full

Does it mater if they full scale fire on you? Isn't following unconstitutional orders and arresting you ending in a jail sentence bad enough? The DEA has been using NSA data to arrest civilians and covering up the fact that the case came about through unconstitutional means. Do they need to fire? Nope not one bullet to strip your freedoms right out from under you.

Congress borrowed $17 Trillion and counting.

They call it the "National" debt and the people are considered the debtors. They did it all for us.

Really though they did it all to us.

The lies spread by government exceeds approximately 17 trillion a year.

Free includes debt-free!

Yes, unfortunately.

They should be perceived (and eventually dealt with, if necessary) as such.

I hate to say it, but perhaps we need whistleblowers / hackers to supply lists and home addresses of ALL federal, metro / city, etc. LE personnel in the country (except for those of sheriff / elected-official-directed [and thus accountable] departments).

I think this may be appropriate, and perhaps it would discourage some of their industry-wide corruption, bluster, abuse, etc. Also the same info for personnel of these so-called private security firms and the like would be nice, too, if they are deployed domestically.

Sadly, we are rapidly careening off Liberty's course to the point in time when the implied, possible, or even actual threat of force against these people--where they sleep and/or are at least semi-vulnerable--may be the only deterrent against their abusive and murderous modi operandi, so oft demonstrated as of late.

What would the Founders do?



police presence in our small community is on the rise--


it's hard to be awake; it's easier to dream--