I just finished Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop. I found it to be a well-researched commentary on the growth of SWAT units and their use in increasingly mundane police work. I highly recommend it.
Some items of note:
1. The Castle Doctrine. Those of us in the RKBA are well aware of the Castle Doctrine in self-defense against criminals, but Balko delves deep into its original uses against government invasion of homes. Particular of note is how the Castle Doctrine helped to frame both the Third and Fourth Amendments. Balko also details the eroding of the Castle Doctrine in regards to the police.
2. The War on Drugs. Our Puritan war against people using drugs has done two major things – helped erode Constitutional protections against police intrusion/invasions and lavished federal funding for police to act in more militant ways.
3. SWAT teams. There are very good reasons for having a SWAT team. Situations where the risk of not doing something is higher than the risk of using very violent tactics. Hostage rescue and active shooter events would be two very good examples. Fortunately, those situations are extremely rare. Unfortunately, that means SWAT teams have a lot of available time to be put into use where they introduce a level of violence that is at best counterproductive, and at worst, needlessly cost lives.
I remember when I started getting into guns around 16. I was reading Cooper’s Corner in the back of a Guns & Ammo magazine about how cops should conduct their duties in police uniforms not in balaclava-hooded tactical garb. At the time, I thought Col. Cooper was being old-fashioned and out of touch with current realities. Now, I think he was spot on.