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A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut

Author(s): Stephen Hill and Randall Beger


Source: Social Justice, Vol. 36, No. 1 (115), Policing Protest and Youth (2009), pp. 25-40
Published by: Social Justice/Global Options
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A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut


Stephen

Hill and Randall

Beger*

Juggernaut: "Anything that draws blind and destructive devotion..."


?American Heritage Dictionary, 2005
IT

IS THE CONTENTION

OF THIS ARTICLE

THAT THE UNITED

STATES

IS CURRENTLY

en?

meshed in a potentially unstoppable global phenomenon thatwe characterize


as a "paramilitary policing juggernaut." Two forces drive this juggernaut. The
first is themodern state's need to counteract the "clandestine dimensions of glo?
balization" (Andreas, 2003: 108). The second is the proclivity of civilian police

forces to adopt militarized forms of policing.


Unless a greater awareness of this phenomenon is generated, theUnited States
and itsallies will travel the same path as thatof countries like Israel, which is today
battling theaftereffectsof having adopted amilitarized ideology of policing inwhich
the"offender" is treatedas an "enemy." Though neoliberal globalization may be the
primary cause of this phenomenon, U.S. support for the use of paramilitary police
in peacekeeping operations may inadvertentlyencourage even greatermilitariza?
tion of policing across the international community. Thus, unless these forces are
controlled, the paramilitary policing juggernaut threatens to run roughshod over
the provision of democratic policing on a global scale.
This article begins by defining the key terms of police "militarism," "militari?
zation," and "paramilitary policing." After elucidating the principal drivers of the
paramilitary policing juggernaut, we examine its effects on democratic policing
in theUnited States and abroad. Finally, after discussing the inherentdifficulties
involved incontaining thejuggernaut, we offer suggestions for action in this regard.
Militarism, Militarization,

and Paramilitary

Police

The most prominent scholar on the issue, PeterKraska (2007:3), best defines the
distinction between police "militarism" and "militarization." The formerhe defines
"in itsmost basic sense as an ideology...that [stresses] theuse of force and threatof
violence as themost appropriate and efficacious means to solve problems," while
*
Stephen M. Hill
isAssociate Professor of international relations in the Department of Political
His research and teaching
Claire (e-mail: hills@uwec.edu).
Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau
R. Beger
is
interests include paramilitary policing, peacekeeping, and conflict resolution. Randall
Professor of criminal justice in the Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Eau
His research and teaching interests include paramilitary policing,
Claire (e-mail: begerrr@uwec.edu).
legal adaptation among refugees, and ex-offender reentry challenges.

Social Justice Vol. 36, No.

1 (2009)

25

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Stephen Hill and Randall

26

Beger

defining the latteras "the implementation of [that] ideology." Thus, by Kraska's


definition,militarization is actually a process throughwhich police agencies adopt
an increasinglymartial culture, organization, material, and modus operandi.
The term "paramilitary policing" has multiple meanings. It generally refers to
"armed forces of the state thathave bothmilitary capabilities and police powers"
(Perito, 2004: 46). Although the paramilitary policing juggernaut identifiedhere
primarily concerns themilitarization of the police, a second trendhas become ap?

parent, thatof the "police-ization" of theU.S. military (Kraska, 2007). As these


trends continue to converge, a "paramilitarization" of U.S. security is becoming

increasingly evident.
Paramilitary police are thus themost obvious manifestation of the adoption
of a militarized ideology of policing, or themilitarization of the police. The more
militarized thepolice become, themore theycome to resemble theirmilitary coun?
terparts,both in ideology and form. Significantly,militarized police or paramilitary
police tend to: (1) deploy as units rather than as individuals; (2) seek trainingfrom
military personnel in theuse of sophisticated weaponry, special apparel, and equip?
ment; and (3) adopt a system of rank that replicates the structureof themilitary
(Scobell and Hammitt, 1998).
Though theUnited States has never had a specific paramilitary police force,
such forces are common inother countries. The most famous of these include the
French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri, and the Spanish Guardia Civil. These
"gendarmeries," as they are informally called, generally compose a significant

proportion of each nation's respective police forces and theirmilitarized nature is


usually manifest in their submission to the authorityof theirministries of defense
(Waddington, 1991). In contrast, paramilitary police personnel inAnglo-Saxon
countries such as theUnited States, theUnited Kingdom, and Australia tend to
operate as paramilitary police units (PPUs) under the authority of their respective
civil police organizations. Such PPUs have been known bymany differentnames,
including: Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Emergency Response Teams
(ERT), and Special Patrol Groups (SPG). The proliferation of PPUs across the
United States is now themost discernible symptom of a greatermalaise affecting
U.S. policing: itsmilitarization.
The Drivers
Counteracting

of Paramilitary

Policing

theClandestine Effects ofGlobalization

As Peter Kraska (2007: 1) has documented for over a decade, U.S. citizens
have become "witnesses to a littlenoticed but nonetheless momentous historical
traditional distinctions between military/police, war/law enforce?
change?the
ment, and internal/externalsecurity are rapidly blurring." Though these effectsare
empirically evident, the cause remains deeply contested. Two principal schools of
thoughtexist, which Tony Fitzpatrick (2001: 216-217) calls the "exogenous" and

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A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut

27

"endogenous" explanations of globalization. The former "refers to those processes


and flows [of globalization] that exhibit an autonomous, independent reality [on
states]" (p. 216). In this explanation, states are seen primarily as actors reacting
is thus an
to, and evolving in, a neoliberal economic structure.Globalization
is
nature
that
force
both
the
of
the
independent
"transforming
sovereign state in
the international system and the relations between the two" (Patman, 2006: 982).
Peter Andreas and Richard Price (2001) highlight this process in theirarticle,
"FromWar Fighting toCrime Fighting: Transforming theAmerican National Se?
curityState," inwhich theyargue thatthe traditional functional distinction between
military and police is an artifact of the emergence of a particular kind of state at a

particular period of time.Only by recognizing this, theybelieve, will scholars be


"better placed to consider the kinds of contemporary developments thatmay be
harbingers of another kind of state, in another historical epoch, with other forms
of organized violence" (p. 34). Andreas (2003: 84) develops this theme in a later
article, inwhich he suggests thatdespite a decline in "the traditionalmilitary and
economic functions of borders...the use of border controls topolice the clandestine
side of globalization has expanded." The "clandestine side of globalization" to
which he refers principally involves "clandestine transnational actors (CTAs),"
who are defined as:
nonstate actors who operate across national borders in violation of state
laws and who attempt to evade law enforcement. CTAs are as dramati?
cally varied as theirmotives. They may be driven by high profits and
market demand (e.g., drug traffickersand migrant smugglers), the desire
to carry out politically or religiously inspired acts of violence (terrorists),
or the search for employment or refuge (the vast majority of unauthor?
ized migrants).... CTAs have existed in one form or another for as long
as states have imposed border controls.What has changed over time are
the organization of CTAs and theirmethods and speed of cross-border
movement; state laws and the form, intensity,and focus of theirenforce?
ment; and the level of public anxiety and policy attention (pp. 78-79).
Thus, for Andreas, geopolitics has not been transcended by globalization,
but merely transformed (p. 108). It is now essentially based on law-enforcement
concerns (p. 80). The end product of this evolution from the "warfare" state to
the "crimefare" state (p. 52), as Andreas and Price have described it, is that the
"coercive apparatus of the state [is being] reconfigured and redeployed...[with a]
growing fusion between law enforcement and national securitymissions, institu?

tions, strategies, and technologies.... [This is reflected in] both a militarization of


policing and a domestication of soldiering"(2001: 31). Derek Lutterbecks (2004,
2005) work documents these effects and chronicles the transformationof European
and North American border policing from a defensive to a more "proactive" or

"military-type approach." For Lutterbeck (2005: 232), the fact thatborder security

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28

Stephen Hill

and Randall

Beger

gendarmes have witnessed the greatest growth rates in post-Cold War European
law enforcement is understandable given thatCTAs "defy thedistinction between
internal and external security," and have thus "led to the expansion of security
forces thatare also located across this divide."
Another contributing factor to themilitarization of policing is the tendency of
the state to treatall CTAs as a threat to national security.Consequently, criminal
and social issues such as drug-trafficking,illegal immigration,and organized crime

Crelinsten
to the simi?
expertise in
other types
of CTAs (p. 389). This tendency,he believes, stems from the search by the state's
"agencies of social control" for new enemies after theCold War. After exaggerat?
ing the threat, they begin to "engage in claims-making activity...that they need
new powers, new jurisdictions, new networks of cooperation, new power-sharing
have been subsumed under themantle of counterterrorism. Ronald
(1998) believes that this has partly resulted from a practical response
larlyclandestine nature of CTAs. Since counterterroristagencies have
dealing with clandestine organizations, it is sensible for them to police

arrangements, all because of the transnational nature of the threat" (p. 398). As
Crelinsten acknowledges, Didier Bigo identified this behavior as "an attempt at
insecuritization of daily life by security professionals in order to increase a sense
of societal insecurityand thereby justify increased interventionof policing in a
wide variety of areas" (p. 401). The result iswhat Bigo has called a "militarization
of the societal" throughwhich "the same coercive solutions are proposed for any
number of social problems" (Ibid.). Moreover, for security professionals in post
Cold War Europe, the distinction between state security and societal security does
not appear to exist (p. 409).
Tony Fitzpatrick (2001) and JudeMcCulloch (2007) also stress the state's con?
struction of threats in response to globalization. Fitzpatrick argues thatas "global

capital becomes apparentlyunmanageable" and "as thepolity and theeconomy detach


after a century of alignment," the statemust give itself something to do. Thus, the
state "socially and discursively constructs threats thatonly itcan address through...
punitive responses to the chaos ithas [helped facilitate]" (p. 220). "In short,as the
state can no longer guarantee thewell-being of freedom and security in returnfor
mass loyalty, itpreserves itspolitical authority through the juridification, policing,
and active enforcement of citizenship obligations" (p. 221). Similarly,McCulloch
argues that "the construction of a transnational crime threatprovides a productive
fiction, establishing a rhetorical platform for the transformationand extension of
the coercive capacities of states" (p. 19).McCulloch appears to bridge the divide
between the"exogenous" and "endogenous" explanations of globalization, the latter
of which suggests thatglobalization is actually an ideologically driven construct
InMcCulloch's account, the construction of transnational
(Fitzpatrick, 2001:216).
threats is inherentlyconcerned with themaintenance of social, political, and eco?
nomic hierarchies, bothwithin and between states (p. 19). Thus, "themajor success
of transnational crime is a progressing neoliberal globalization thatamounts to the

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A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut

29

internationalization of U.S.-centered, pro-market, anti-welfare, deregulatory poli?


cies" (p. 28). Though the debate between these schools will inevitably continue,
Fitzpatrick is correct to note that the strengthof the endogenous explanation is that
it"makes room for processes...that cannot be simply treatedas the strategic effects
of rulingelites... [while] the strengthof the endogenous explanation is in reminding
us that the global stage has dominant actors" (pp. 216-217).
Despite theirdifferences, both schools agree that the "War on Terrorism" was
not the beginning of this phenomenon, but just another catalyst or excuse for
greater militarization. The militarization of policing due to an amplification of

national security threatshas been discernable since at least the late 1970s, when
the "War on Drugs" eventually led Congress to amend the 1878 Posse Comitatus
Act (PCA), which had hithertomaintained a clear delineation between police and
soldiers. By authorizing the transferofmilitary trainingand weaponry to federal,
state,and local police agencies, inorder to allow themilitary to assist law enforce?
ment in combating the drug trade, the 1981 Cooperation Act set off a national

trend in law enforcement to adopt military objectives, methods, and equipment.


Following theOklahoma City bombing incident in 1995, President Bill Clinton
proposed amending the PCA "to allow themilitary to aid civilian authorities in
investigations involving 'weapons of mass destruction'" (Hammond, 1997: 954).
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, theBush administration sought to gut the
PCA to allow themilitary a wider role in disaster relief efforts (The Progressive,
2005). Stephen Muzzatti (2005) has also documented how, using "successful"
drug task forces as a model, U.S. law-enforcement agencies sought to create Joint

Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) with the FBI throughout the 1990s. By the end
of 2001, therewere already close to 100 such units. Thus, inMuzzatti's opinion,
rather than initiating the process of police militarization, the "War on Terrorism"
has

"normalized

and

accelerated"

it.

The Institutional Proclivity ofPolice Forces TowardMilitarized Forms


With the instrumental role played by the state inpropagating themilitarization
of policing now obvious, it is also true that the paramilitary policing juggernaut
would not be what it is today if such policies had not fallen on fertile ground. The
ease with which U.S. policing has adopted paramilitary policies is also due to an
institutionalproclivity to perceive criminal problems through a militarized lens.
This is arguably a result of the nature of police forces in general. As Kraska (2007)
explains, every police force is to some extentmilitarized. The only question is to
what degree. So, when police forces are encouraged to adopt a greater degree of

militarism, theremay be little inertia to overcome.


The flipside of this is thatwhen non-militarized policies are encouraged, there
will be a certain degree of institutionalobstructionism. This may become evident
in attempts to circumvent such new policies, or even to interpretthem through a
persistentmilitaristic perspective. For example, Sergio Herzog (2001: 184) notes

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Stephen Hill and Randall

30

Beger

thatU.S. policing has been characterized as moving away from a paramilitarymodel


to one of a lessmilitaristic nature, inparticular thatofCommunity Policing (COP),
yet "a simultaneous secondary trend [has existed] towards an even more militarized
model of policing than before,mainly for handling serious crime and public order
disturbances." Herzog also points to the irony thatwhen under pressure to adopt
theCOP

strategy,many police commands and officers perceived paramilitary po?


as determining the changes toward COPs because they constituted a
units
licing
more appropriate means for accomplishing community goals and values (p. 186).
Kraska (2007: 8) asserts that paramilitary policing is not flourishing as a
"backstage phenomenon, [or] operating as a form of resistance, or corrective, to
the immense political pressures [being] put on theAmerican police to adopt [COP]
reforms," as many have argued. Rather, advocates of paramilitary policing have
interpretedand applied community policing through a "weed and seed" strategy
that requires PPUs to first "weed out undesirables," before other programs are
introduced to "seed the community." This helps to explain why the proliferation
of PPUs began to reach astonishing levels, with figures showing approximately
90% ofAmerican cities with a population of 50,000 ormore having some kind of
PPU by themid-1990s (twice as many as 10 years earlier) and 70% of cities with
smaller populations possessing one (Kraska and Cubellis, 2004).

Given thisproclivity towardmilitarism, it is not surprising thatpolice agencies


have been keen recipients of equipment and trainingfrom theU.S. military (after
theweakening of thePCA) and private companies. Between 1995 and 1997 alone,
theDepartment ofDefense (DoD) donated 1.2million pieces ofmilitary hardware
to domestic police departments, includingM-16 assault rifles, grenade launchers,
and armored personnel carriers (Balko, 2006). Sometimes, this cooperation can go

beyond trainingand equipping, as in the case of the "Waco Compound" inTexas,


when military special operations consultants were brought in to aid in theplanning
of the initial and final raids (Kraska, 1999: 143).
Compounding thisstateof affairsare the interestsof a network of privatemilitary
firms,

security

contractors,

and gun manufacturers.

For

example,

the now

infamous

security company, Blackwater (renamed Xe in 2009), has trained civilian police


officers in themore technical aspects of urban warfare (Scahill, 2007; Chalmers
and Williams, 2007) and organized competitions such as theWorld SWAT Chal?
lenge of 2004 at itsfirearms training center inNorth Carolina (Singer, 2004). Gun
manufacturers likeHeckler and Koch have been known tomarket theirsubmachine
guns at reduced prices to police forces as weapons utilized from the "Gulf War
to the Drug War" (Kraska, 1999: 152). The proclivity toward militarism in the
police may also be a self-interested response to funding opportunities. Since the
U.S. government allocates approximately $12 billion per year to agencies fighting
the "War on Drugs" (not including amounts spent by state and local government),
there can be little surprise thatpolice forces tend to seek their fair share. Federal
grants from theDepartment ofHomeland Security have also enabled state and local

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31

A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut

police departments to strengthen the capabilities of existing PPUs or to establish


new ones (Chalmers andWilliams, 2007; Savage, 2007).
Finally, an apparent hyper-masculine aestheticwithin civilian police organizations
makes the paramilitary style of policing particularly attractive. Images of SWAT
officers clad inmilitary uniforms, while totingmachine guns and assault rifles,
have appeared countless timesonmagazine covers, inmovies, television programs,
and on police department websites. Such images can only contribute to a "war?
rior"mindset and culturewithin PPUs and police forces ingeneral (Weber, 1999).
Undermining Democratic

Policing

in theUnited States

According toDavid H. Bayley (2001: 14), democratic policing is predicated


on four principal norms: (1) thatpolice "must give top operational priority to ser?
vicing the needs of individual citizens and private groups"; (2) that they "must be
accountable to the law rather than the government"; (3) that they should "protect
human rights, especially those thatare required for the sort of unfettered political

activity that is the hallmark of democracy"; and (4) that they "should be transpar?
ent in their activities." By undermining these norms, the paramilitary policing
juggernaut subverts democratic policing in theUnited States.

Evidence of this predicament is burgeoning. Like the scholars covered above


who discussed the state and globalization, Daryl Meeks (2006: 37) argues that
U.S. policing is increasinglymoving toward a "military operational model" that
encourages "street-level officers, as well as law enforcement executives, to adopt
the view that the inner-cityenvironment is a war-zone and the enemy is the urban
underclass." This militarization is occurring despite official statistics showing that

violent

crime

rates

are

decreasing.

Muzzatti (2005:120) has also documented thatU.S. policing is inappropriately


criminalizing social problems and conflating "the exercise of constitutionally
protected rights with crime, insurrection, and terrorism."For example, he notes

that in preparing for the potential Y2K disaster, U.S. law enforcement defined the
public as the "enemy." Similarly, he believes that through legislation such as the
PATRIOT Act and theHomeland SecurityAct, the "War on Terrorism" has become
a "catchall category" used by thepolice to criminalize "a wide range of nonviolent
political and social activists committed to progressive social change" (p. 120).
There is, perhaps, no better example of this phenomenon than the "Battle in

Seattle" of 1999. The corrupting effectsmilitarization can have on Bayley's norms


of democratic policing were made amply apparent ina subsequent American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) report thatcondemned theSeattle police for transforming
a protest over theWorld Trade Organization intoa combat zone. Drawing on some
500 eyewitness accounts, theACLU report painted a disturbing picture of police
taking extreme measures against protesters and non-participants. The following
are but a representative sampling from that report:

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Stephen Hill and Randall

32
?

Beger

The Seattle Police Department used massive amounts of teargas against


crowds even when such use was not necessary to protect public safety
and the safetyof officers.
Rubber bullets were used against people who posed no threat.They were
also used against largely nonviolent crowds and against individuals who
were engaged in passive resistance or were fleeing.
Police officers were not making split-second decisions in emergency
situations.They simply used theirweapons on people who offended them
or caught theirattention.Officers also used clubs, teargas, pepper spray,
and rubber bullets against individual bystanders in downtown Seattle.
(In Out of Control: Seattle's Flawed Response to Protests Against the
World Trade Organization, June 2000, ACLU ofWashington.)

This kind of behavior ismost prevalent among police teams trained in the use
ofmilitary tactics, equipment, and maneuvers. As Balko (2006: 1) has shown, such
PPUs increasingly "subject nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly
targeted civilians to the terrorof having theirhomes invaded while they're sleep?
ing." And these pernicious effects are becoming more common, given thatPPU

"call outs" have begun to reach into virtually every aspect of civic life, including
breaking up fights on school property, conducting raids on illegal gambling opera?
tions, crowd control duties, and saturation patrolling of suspected "crime-prone"

minority neighborhoods (Ibid.).


Finally, the paramilitary policing juggernaut is likely to crush the complimen?
tarynorms of democratic policing: transparency and accountability.Militarization
and the use of PPUs are always accompanied by arguments for greater security
and secrecy to protect police operations. For example, the street-skills training
of PPUs is usually deemed to be an internalmatter not subject to citizen inputor

external review. Kraska and Cubellis (2004) have warned thatfurthermilitariza?


tion of the police may encourage an explicit "means justifies the ends" mentality
inwhich due process and justice are subverted to "necessity and expediency," and
miscarriages of justice hidden under "secrecy." This lack of transparencymakes
itdifficult to detect and investigate police corruption. Nathan Pino and Michael
Wiatrowski (2006) have found thatparamilitarism in the police leads to increased
complaints and lawsuits, lower levels of support among the populace, and can
impede creative ideas.

Undermining Democratic

Policing Abroad

Since all statesoperating intheglobalized neoliberal economic market are subject


to the same pressures, a similarmilitarization of theirpolicing should be expected.
Indeed, at least in regions where studies have been conducted, such as Western
Europe and Australia, this is already evident (McCulloch, 2001; Lutterbeck, 2005,

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A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut

33

2004). However, there is reason tobelieve thatU.S. support forforeign paramilitary


police forces and PPUs abroad is intensifyingthisprocess.
Following itsfateful involvement inVietnam, Congress tried to end U.S. sup?
port for foreign police forces in 1974 through Sec. 660 of the Foreign Assistance
Act (FAA). However, subsequent administrations circumvented theact to continue
theirsupportforanticommunist governments, particularly inLatin America and the

Caribbean (Hills, 2006). By 1986, Congress had become sufficientlycomfortable


with such regional assistance that itpassed Sec. 534 of theFAA, which established
the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program to provide
trainingtoforeign police forces in thecontext ofAdministration of Justiceprograms
administered by theAgency for InternationalDevelopment (Perito, 2002: 18-19).
Though itsremitwas limited in itsformative years, the invasion of Panama exposed
inadequacies in the institutional capacity to train foreign police forces, spurring
Congress to expand the program in 1990 to include the reconstitution of "civilian

police authority and capability" in nations "emerging from instability."


U.S. involvement inpeacekeeping operations throughout the 1990s, especially
in theformerYugoslavia, led to greater use of paramilitary police units to close the
"security gap"?the gray area between the appropriate roles for unarmed civilian
police and the use ofmilitary forces (Hill, Beger, and Zanetti, 2007). By February
2000, theClinton administration was sufficientlyconvinced of the utility of these
forces to release itsPresidential Decision Directive 71 on "strengthening criminal
justice systems in support of U.S. peace operations," which advocated "thatU.N.
missions make use of a suitable mix of military and/or paramilitary forces to ac?
complish the assigned tasks of any new peace operation [because] such forces
bring specialized skills, such as crowd control capabilities, thatare not common to
traditionalmilitary or civilian police organizations." These forces, itargued, were
"most effectivewhen deployed as units rather than individuals" (PDD 71, 2000).

To increase the supply of paramilitary police forces for thesemissions, at their


Sea Island Summit in June 2004 theG8 leaders called for the creation of "an in?
ternational training center thatwould serve as a Center of Excellence to provide
trainingand skills for peace support operations" (Dziedzic and Stark, 2006). Thus,
inMarch 2005 theCenter of Excellence for Stability Police Units (COESPU) was
established inVicenza, Italy, to "serve as a doctrinal hub for stability policing and
to provide training for future SPU commanders, mid-grade officers, and NCOs"
(Dziedzic and Stark, 2006). In September 2005, an agreement formalizing U.S.
support forCOESPU was signed with Italy.The center hopes to train3,000 stabil?
itypolice trainers by 2010 and countries with personnel attending include India,
Jordan,Kenya, and Senegal. In December 2004, five European Union countries
with indigenous paramilitarypolice forces (France, Italy,Portugal, The Netherlands,
and Spain) also announced theformation of a European Gendarmerie Force (EGF
or EUROGENDFOR),
which is now available for crisis management operations

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Stephen Hill and Randall

34

Beger

under the authority of theE.U., U.N., NATO, theOrganization for Security and
Cooperation inEurope, or ad hoc coalitions (Dziedzic and Stark, 2006).
Though many believe the creation of a multinational gendarmerie force for use

in peace-support missions is a welcome development, the danger remains that it


could create even more incentives tomilitarize policing on an international scale.
It is telling, for example, thatalthough designed to deal only with events unsuited
to heavily armed military forces or to lightlyarmed civilian police (the security

gap), of the 7,160 police personnel deployed inU.N. peace-support operations at


the end of 2005, over half were already paramilitary police, deployed in27 units.
The reasons for this sea change are understandable. Formed Police Units (FPU),
as they are called when deployed under U.N. command, are better trained than
typical civilian police volunteers, are logistically independent, and are ready to
deploy at short notice. They are also significantly cheaper to deploy and maintain

in the field (Dziedzic and Stark, 2006).


However, the inherentdangers of this new reliance on paramilitary police are
obvious. As Alice Hills (2001: 92) has warned, "in post-conflict societies inwhich
the presence of paramilitary forces was historically synonymous with political re?
pression, the use of paramilitary units could [represent] a militarization of policing

thatmay createmore problems than itsolves, sending thewrong signals inprocesses


of reconciliation and democratization." Thus, it is essential that adequate public
debate take place concerning the efficacy of using such forces in these operations,
which are designed to restore law and order and to (re)build democratic institu?
tions.As in theUnited States, however, transparency and accountability may not
be a characteristic of the paramilitary policing juggernaut abroad. Article 29.3 of
the treatyestablishing theEGF gives immunity to itspersonnel, so that "from a
criminal law point of view...there may be insufficient legal safeguards and insuf?
ficient remedies should itor any individual operative act illegally in the conduct
of a mission"

(Santoro, 2008: 70).


Controlling

theGrowth of Paramilitary

Policing

This article, in highlighting the cause and effects of the paramilitary policing
juggernaut, does not argue against any role for paramilitary policing. This is true
forU.S. domestic policing and for the provision of policing in internationalpeace?
keeping operations. In certain circumstances, such as hostage crises or terrorist
attacks, the use of PPUs can be a perfectly calibrated response to grave threats that
lie outside the competence of regular police officers. Equally, the limited use of
paramilitary units inpeacekeeping operations can help to close the security gap and
thus reduce the likelihood of an excessive use of force in the provision of public
security. Nevertheless, the principal argument here remains that a combination

of ignorance and uncritical acceptance of police militarization has increasingly


undermined democratic policing.

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A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut

35

If leftunchecked, thedanger exists that themilitarization of policing will reach


a point of no returnor, at least, a point at which it is very difficult to return.The
Israeli National Police (INP) represents perhaps the best example. Sergio Herzog
(2001: 188), having studied themilitarized ideology of policing adopted by the
INP?in which the "offender" is perceived as an "enemy who only understands the
language of force"? concludes thatsuch approaches tend "to induce 'pre-violence
behavior,' namely, exaggerated suspicion, rude and inconsiderate conduct, resort to
unreasonable and unnecessary measures, unwillingness to explain or to listen,and
acceptance of violence for itsown sake." Herzog also proffersan equally prescient
warning about the difficulties of demilitarizing the police. Despite attempts to

demilitarize the INP since 1994, he notes, "the prevailing police subculture [still]
boasts a strongespritde corps (as in thearmy),which serves toperpetuate alienation
and separation from the public. An 'us against them' stand still prevails regarding
anyone who 'isn't a cop,' particularly minorities (Palestinians and Israeli Arabs)
or groups identified as 'typical criminal offenders'" (p. 188). Not surprisingly,
Herzog concludes from the Israeli experience that"the blurring of limits between
themilitary and police force has always been disadvantageous for thepublic, whom
the latter is supposed to serve" (pp. 205-206).
Controlling theparamilitary policing juggernaut before itreaches such a level is

thusessential to thefutureof democratic policing in theUnited States and overseas.


This will not be easy since powerful forces drive police militarization. Opportuni?
ties to slow itsmomentum and perhaps establish a footing for itseventual reversal
do exist. For instance, to "put teeth" into thePosse Comitatus Act, Bloeser (2003:
30) proposes the following measures:
?
Increase the penalty provision to allow a maximum of 10 years in prison
and mandatory restitution to the victim, with required prison time if
death or significant physical injury results.
?
Allow criminal liability for those up the chain of command if intentional
failure to supervise contributed to the [PCA] violation.
?
Require military personnel, perhaps by anonymous identification
number, to reportPCA violations directly to an independent office at the
Department of Justice and provide protection to reporting individuals
against retribution.
Another effective measure might be to add language to the PCA thatwould
prohibit the transferof surplusmilitary hardware to civilian law enforcement and
police trainingforuse inmilitary tactics andmaneuvers (Bennett,2006; Kealy, 2003).

Greater public awareness will be essential to overcoming ignorance and con?


trolling the spread of the paramilitary policing juggernaut. Academics can help to
informthepublic and policymakers about itsdangers and fosterpolicy discussions.
For example, scholars atMonash University inMelbourne, Australia, conducted a
three-yearstudy inwhich more than 1,000 persons were interviewed or participated

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36

Stephen Hill and Randall

Beger

inan online survey. Subjects in the study included persons from culturally diverse
communities and police officers.Based on this strongempirical evidence, the final
reportnoted that theAustralian government's approach to terrorismwas "to a large
extent informed by counter-insurgency measures implemented in places such as

Northern Ireland and Israel and to a lesser extent South Africa and Algeria during
the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s" (Pickering et al., 2007: 27). It concluded that "hard
power" paramilitary police tactics to combat terrorismwere making conditions
worse by alienating members of ethnically diverse groups from law enforcement.
This case is not unique. Aggressive police tactics in theU.S. "War on Drugs"
have reinforced negative public attitudes toward law enforcement, especially
among people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods, with no decline indrug use

(Nunn, 2002; Small, 2001). Lawmakers in several U.S. states have responded to
an emerging backlash against the "War on Drugs" by introducing bills to repeal
or modify civil forfeiture laws that law enforcement has used to seize personal
property and other assets (frequentlywith no arrest) believed to have been used
during the commission of a criminal act. Critics assert that law enforcement agen?

cies have used asset forfeiture revenues to equip and send PPUs on "no-knock"
drug raids, often conducted on the "wrong" premises (Shannon, 2007). According
to studies by theRand Corporation, among others, treatment is 10 timesmore cost
effective than interdiction for reducing cocaine use in the United States (Rydell
and Everingham, 1994). Based on these findings, ballot initiatives inCalifornia,

Arizona, andWashington, D.C., have helped to retard themilitarization of policing


by calling for substance abusing offenders to be redirected into treatmentprograms

(Drug Policy Alliance, 2002).


Evidence of escalating violence, togetherwith the threatof lawsuits, has per?
suaded a growing number of civilian police organizations in cities such as Albu?
querque, New Mexico, and Dinuba, California, to dismantle theirPPUs, or at least
to curtail theirreach (Jordon, 2005; Balko, 2006). Police executives inother cities
have removed PPUs from drug raids and suicide calls (Weber, 1999).
In termsof internationalpeacekeeping, the long-termeffects of greater reliance
on FPUs must be assessed more seriously than is currently the case. For practical
and political reasons, an organization such as theUnited Nations (which perpetu?
ally struggles to attractwell trained and adequately funded civilian police) cannot
refuse to deploy FPUs in current peacekeeping operations. However, an ongoing

analysis of the potential effects of FPUs on indigenous police forces must be


undertaken to produce greater confidence in the international community's ever
increasing reliance on them.

Demilitarizing policing in the incrementalandmultidimensional manner outlined


above provides the only hope for controlling the paramilitary policing juggernaut
ina neoliberal, globalizing world. Through cooperation, academics, lawyers, non?
governmental organizations, and the general public can synergistically analyze the

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A Paramilitary Policing Juggernaut

37

rationale for,and process of, police militarization in policies such as the "War on
Terrorism"

and

"War

on

Drugs."

Conclusion
This article seeks mainly to raise awareness of an unchecked paramilitary po?
licing juggernaut thatposes a threat to the provision of democratic policing in the
United States and abroad. The longer the process continues, themore difficult it
becomes to reverse it.This has been the experience of the Israeli National Police
and, unless theparamilitary policing juggernaut iscontrolled, U.S. policing is likely
to travel along the same path. Significantly, theUnited States has exacerbated the
effects of this juggernaut throughout the international community by supporting
paramilitary police forces inEurope and the deployment of FPUs in international
peacekeeping operations. Adequate public discussion must take place on federal
policies toward police militarization at home and abroad.
Though public awareness is essential, the tools and strategies to control the

juggernautmust be developed before theprocess becomes irreversible.This article


has suggested preliminary steps thatmight slow the juggernaut while the debate
over militarization proceeds. These include, at a minimum, a strengtheningof the
1878 Posse Comitatus Act, repeal of forfeiture laws, and an ongoing analysis of
the long-termeffects of FPUs on the civilian nature of indigenous police forces in
countries thathave experienced peacekeeping operations.

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