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Country: Europe, DE, Germany
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Books about aspects of United States history often must first dip their toes into the waters of English history just to give context to the later U.S. developments and Radley Balko's "Rise of the Warrior Cop" is no exception. Beginning by explaining to the reader the Castle Doctrine that is the ultimate source of much of the Bill of Rights, Balko proceeds to show how the federal governmnet, through grant programs and the perverse expansion of the war on drugs (which is of course a war on users and sellers of drugs, since to date the drugs have refused to offer battle) has put at risk the lives of innocent bystanders and police through escalating violence in the service of that war.
While the federal government lavishes money and military hardware on towns of every size across the United States as a result of the outsized fear of terrorism the government and media conspire to keep fanned as hot as possible, those same small municipalities, lacking actual terrorist threats against which to use their new military equipment, repurpose it for the enforcement of the country's draconian drug laws. Then, through the legal mechanism of asset forfieture, the same municipalities make crime pay (for them) by seizing the assets of the guilty, the vaguely implicated and the completely innocent in equal measure, in many cases denying defendants access to the funds required to mount a defense and giving local government a profit motive to acquire and use more and more military equipment.
As a consequencence of these programs and incentives, policing has transformed from the Mayberryesque ideals of serving and protecting the community, to the rhetoric of "us versus them" with police having been inculcated to believe that every non-police person is an enemy or a threat, which leads to the absurities of people with down syndrome, who are at best threats to themselves, and then only accidentally, who are killed by police without malice, just because that is the inculcated response when someone does not properly submit to police authority. If you want to truly understand how we got from Mayberry (and, bellieve it or not, police really did behave like that at one time, not toward everyone, but it did happen!) to a pseudo-Beiruit, you owe it to yourself to read this book becaue Balko shows you step by step how we got from there to here without it being anyone's intentional design to do so (and with many of the architects today regretting what they had done).
One final caveat: this book is not anti-police. There are many wonderful police who still believe in and behave according to an ethos of serve and protect, and without police it goes without saying that society would be terribly worse off, but the book does clearly and eloquently critizize the policies from the federal government on down that give incentives for some officers and departments to behave in very dangerous ways.
[I should note by way of potential conflict, when I was laid up from cancer surgery, Radley Balko was kind enough to provide me with a PDF of the book that I could read before it was published. I still purchased a copy, so the only result of the PDF was for me to be able to read the book early and to evidence what a kind and gracious person Radley really is.]
David Platt in his book Radical invites Christians to examine their way of life compared to the lives of the disciples who left everything and followed Jesus. Platt challenges us to recognize our duplicity in twisting the gospel to fit our comfortable life styles. Defining what Jesus said and meant and illustrating the revolutionary results that come when we "believe and obey" Platt then describes "The Radical Experiment - a one year journey to authentic discipleship."
I read this two years ago and need to read it again. This is a very good book to read at the beginning of a new year. It can help us persevere in a deeper walk with Christ.