I read your article on the police raid. My father was a cop for 35 years and a police chief for 20 of that. He was the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. I am also a former police officer. We both discussed many times the problems with police departments becoming paramilitary forces. He was chief in a military town and had many former military on his department. He fought constantly to keep them from becoming too military like.
One of the problems we both saw in the early 90′s were departments leaving the formal police uniforms with leather belts and holsters in favor of the dark blue fatigues with nylon mesh belts and holsters. This put police in a more fighting posture.
The final point my father was adamant about was the police 7 point hat. He said this hat was unmistakable in identifying an officer in any situation. His officers were not supposed to leave their vehicles without putting on their hat. Many departments have abandoned these expensive hats in favor of baseball caps. In a crowd there may be dozens of dark ball caps.
I worked as an officer in Wilmington NC where that college kid was killed. In the early 90′s both the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Dept and the Wilmington Police Department were heading toward the more aggressive styles of uniforms and tactics.
Thanks for the article. I do not think most people realize the value of good cops and the danger of bad ones.
I get into this a bit in Overkill. Even subtle changes toward a more militaristic culture can have a lasting effect on the type of mindset with which police officers approach their jobs. I’ve heard this complaint before from older cops–that the switch to more military-style fatigues also accompanied a shift to a more aggressive form of policing.