Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces (Library)

Radley Balko (Author) William Hughes (Read by)


The American approach to law enforcement was forged by the experience of revolution. Emerging as they did from the shadow of British rule, the country's founders would likely have viewed police as they exist today as a standing army and therefore a threat to liberty. Even so, excessive force and disregard for the Bill of Rights have become epidemic in America today. According to civil liberties reporter Radley Balko, these are all symptoms of a generation-long shift to increasingly aggressive, militaristic, and arguably unconstitutional policing-one that would have shocked the conscience of America's founders.

Rise of the Warrior Cop traces the arc of US law enforcement from the constables and private justice of colonial times to present-day SWAT teams and riot cops. Today relentless war on drugs and war on terror pronouncements from politicians, along with battle-clad police forces with tanks and machine guns, have dangerously blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. Balko's fascinating, frightening narrative shows how martial rhetoric and reactionary policies have put modern law enforcement on a collision course with the values of a free society.

Product Details

Blackstone Audiobooks
Publish Date
July 09, 2013
6.6 X 1.2 X 6.1 inches | 0.45 pounds
Compact Disc

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About the Author

Radley Balko is an investigative journalist and reporter at the Washington Post. He currently writes and edits The Watch, a reported opinion blog that covers civil liberties and the criminal justice system. He is the author of the 2013 book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, which has won widespread acclaim, including from the Economist, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly, and was named one of the best investigative journalism books of the year by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. His January 2013 investigation, Solving Kathy Mabry's Murder: Brutal 15-Year-Old Crime Highlights Decades-Long Mississippi Scandal, was one of the most widely read Huffington Post articles of 2013. In 2015, he was awarded the Innocence Project's Journalism Award, in part for his coverage in Mississippi.

William Hughes is an AudioFile Earphones Award-winning narrator. A professor of political science at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, he received his doctorate in American politics from the University of California at Davis. He has done voice-over work for radio and film and is also an accomplished jazz guitarist.


Rise of the Warrior Cop is a comprehensive look at the reasons for, and the results of, the increasing militarization of law enforcement. Civil libertarians on the left and limited government conservatives on the right should pay especially close attention to Radley Balko's examination of the link between the 'the war on drugs' and law enforcement's increased use of police state tactics.

-- "Ron Paul"

Vibrant and compelling. There is no vital trend in American society more overlooked than the militarization of our domestic police forces, and there is no journalist in America who is more knowledgeable and passionate about this topic than Radley Balko. If you care about the core political liberties of Americans, this is a must-read.

-- "Glenn Greenwald, New York Times bestselling author"

With his thorough reporting and compelling storytelling gifts, Radley Balko builds a powerful narrative of the militarization of our police forces, which both liberals and conservatives have allowed to flourish. And he shows the chilling results of both parties' unwillingness to stand up to increasingly aggressive police tactics that often pit cops against those they are sworn to protect.

-- "Arianna Huffington"

A detailed history of a dangerous trend.

-- "Wall Street Journal"

Mr Balko manages to avoid the cliches of both right and left and provokes genuine outrage at the misuse of state power in its most brutal and unaccountable form: heavily armed police raiding the homes of unarmed, nonviolent suspects on the flimsiest of pretexts and behaving more like an occupying army in hostile territory than guardians of public safety. Rise of the Warrior Cop, Mr Balko's interesting first book, explains what policies led to the militarization of America's police. To his credit, he focuses his outrage not on the police themselves but on politicians and the phony, wasteful drug war they created.

-- "Economist"

From the creation of the first SWAT teams...to the literal war on drugs, the much-publicized crackdowns on the Occupy movements, and the increasingly frequent deployments of heavily armed units to address minor incidents...the list of questionable tactics and militarized raids has grown longer with each passing year...The problem, Balko insists, is that we 'tend not to take notice of such long-developing trends, even when they directly affect us. The first and perhaps largest barrier to halting police militarization has probably been awareness.' After reading Balko, you'll be aware, alright-and scared.

-- "Publishers Weekly"

Huffington Post senior investigative reporter Balko combines a searing expose focusing on a specific kind of police brutality with a contextual history of police violence from the Roman Empire through today...An important, sometimes-groundbreaking account of police gone wild.

-- "Kirkus Reviews"

A rich, pertinent history with unexpected but critically important observations of the increased militarization of American policing. And so well presented: clear, lucid, elegantly crafted. Rise of the Warrior Cop should be on the shelves of every police chief, sheriff, and SWAT commander in the country. A huge contribution.

-- "Norm Stamper, police chief of Seattle, 1994-2000"

Radley Balko is one of those throwback journalists that understands the power of groundbreaking reporting and how to make a significant impact through his work. Time and time again, his stories cause readers to stop, think, and, most significantly, take action.

-- "Judges' Statement, Los Angeles Press Club Awards Ceremony "