breakers while adhering to constitutionalprocedures. They are expected to use
force and to deliver suspects to a courtof law. The soldier, on the other hand, is aninstrument of war. In boot camp, recruitsare trained to inflict
damage onenemy personnel. Confusing the policefunction with the military function canhave dangerous consequences. AsAlbuquerque police chief Jerry Glavin hasnoted, “If [cops] have a mind-set that thegoal is to take out a citizen, it will happen.”
Paramilitarism threatens civil liberties, con-stitutional norms, and the well-being of allcitizens. Thus, the use of paramilitary tac-tics in everyday police work should alarmpeople of goodwill from across the politicalspectrum.This paper will examine the militariza-tion of law enforcement at the local level,with particular emphasis on SWAT (SpecialWeapons and Tactics) units. The paper willconclude that the special skills of SWATpersonnel and their military armaments arenecessary only in extraordinary circum-stances. The deployment of such unitsshould therefore be
More gener-ally, Congress should recognize that sol-diers and police officers perform differentfunctions. Federal lawmakers should dis-courage the culture of paramilitarism inpolice departments by keeping the militaryout of civilian law enforcement.
A Brief History of theRelationship between theMilitary and Civilian LawEnforcement
The use of British troops to enforceunpopular laws in the American colonieshelped to convince the colonists that KingGeorge III and Parliament were intent onestablishing tyranny.
The Declaration of Independence specifically refers to thosepractices, castigating King George for “quar-tering large Bodies of Armed Troops amongus” and for “protecting [soldiers], by mock Trial, from Punishment, for any Murderswhich they should commit on the Inhabit-ants of these States.” The colonists com-plained that the king “has kept among us, inTimes of peace, Standing Armies, withoutthe consent of our Legislatures. He has affect-ed to render the Military independent of, andsuperior to, the Civil Power.”After the Revolutionary War, Americanswere determined to protect themselvesagainst the threat of an overbearing mili-tary. The Founders inserted several safe-guards into the Constitution to ensure thatthe civilian powers of the new republicwould remain distinct from, and superiorto, the military:The Congress shall have Power . . .To declare War . . . To raise and sup-port Armies . . . To make Rules for theGovernment and Regulation of theland and Naval Forces . . . To providefor organizing, arming, and disciplin-ing, the Militia.
No State shall, without the con-sent of Congress, . . . keep Troops, orShips of War in time of Peace, . . . orengage in War, unless actually invad-ed, or in such imminent Danger aswill not admit of delay.
The President shall be Command-er in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militiaof the several States, when called intothe actual Service of the UnitedStates.
A well regulated Militia, beingnecessary to the security of a freeState, the right of the people to keepand bear Arms, shall not beinfringed.
No soldier shall, in time of peacebe quartered in any house, withoutthe consent of the Owner, nor intime of war, but in a manner to beprescribed by law.
It is important to emphasize that thoseprovisions were not considered controver-sial. Indeed, the debate at the time of the
After theRevolutionaryWar, Americanswere deter-mined to pro-tect themselvesagainst thethreat of anoverbearingmilitary.