Militarization Fails to Enhance Police Safety or Reduce Crime but May Harm Police Reputation

To some people, American police appeared to have suddenly transformed into a wartime occupying force—but to scholars of race and policing (and perhaps to many citizens of color) these images were less surprising. More than half a century earlier, James Baldwin described urban police as “occupying forces” in black communities; decades of research in the intervening years have documented the ways in which policing efforts such as “stop-and-frisk” and the “war on drugs” have served to maintain race- and class-based social hierarchies. Partly due to this history, critical race scholars have characterized police militarization as another means by which the state exercises social control over racial minorities.