Militarized Police

“There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.” —CommanderWilliam Adama, Battlestar Galactica

Pre-Reading Questions

  1. How is the role of a soldier different from the role of a police officer?
  2. How can a police department build a trusting relationship with local citizens?
  3. What happens when civilians fear the police?

Vocabulary Preview

  • surplus: more than necessary
  • ammunition: objects used in weapons, such as bullets and missiles
  • resemble: to look like
  • army fatigues: camouflage clothing worn by soldiers
  • confrontation: a clash between two people or groups
  • armored vehicle: a tank or other vehicle equipped with weaponry
  • tactical: related to strategic plans and actions used against the enemy
  • take a backseat: to not be a priority in comparison to something else
  • blur the lines: to mix or confuse concepts or boundaries that should be distinct
  • First Amendment: a constitutional right (US) to freedom of speech and assembly
  • civilian: an everyday person, not a member of the military or police force
  • incarceration: imprisonment

Practice these new vocabulary words here: Militarized Police

Militarized Police

How did the lines become blurred?

  1. What should a government do with surplus military equipment? This is a question the US government tackled in recent decades. Since the early 1990s, the US secretary of defense has been transferring military-grade supplies to federal and state law-enforcement agencies. Millions of dollars worth of US military vehicles, supplies, and ammunition are transferred to police forces across America each year.
  2. What happens when police officers begin to resemble armed soldiers? Many citizens feel that the militarization of police invites confrontation, transforming everyday neighborhoods into war zones. As history has shown, peaceful protests turn into violent riots when police officers arrive in army fatigues. Heightened racial tensions between police and civilians in America appear to be linked to the militarization of law enforcement. Black and Latino youth in particular feel as though they are treated as the enemy.
  3. Civilians aren’t the only ones who disagree with the militarization of police. Many military personnel feel that local police officers aren’t properly trained to use military-grade equipment. They note that police shouldn’t ride on top of armored vehicles or aim their assault weapons at unarmed protesters. Retired police officers have a different concern, however. They fear that officers are receiving too much tactical training. Since 9/11, the notion of serving and protecting has taken a backseat in many police training programs.
  4. The saying “desperate times call for desperate measures” is often used to defend the militarization of police. However you look at it, the war on drugs and the threat of homeland security have changed the role of the police officer in America. President Obama, however, has expressed concern about police officers blurring the lines in situations that are not high risk. In 2014, after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black youth in Missouri, protesters filled the streets. Obama criticized the law enforcers for their aggressive response toward the peaceful protesters who were “lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”
  5. A re-examination of the programs that transfer military supplies to civilian police departments is in the works; however, many critics feel it’s too late. More Americans are killed by police officers than ever before, and the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Will America become a full-blown police state?

Post Reading Questions

  1. Name some ”high-risk” situations or crimes that deserve an aggressive response from a SWAT* team. Name some “low-risk” situations that do not require a tactical response.
  2. Should confiscated drug money be used to buy ammunition for police departments?
  3. How does the right to bear arms contribute to the problem of militarized police?
  4. Can you think of any countries where police don’t carry guns?

*Special Weapons and Tactics

Grammar Review - However

There are a few different ways to use the word “however” in a sentence. Depending on its usage, this word can be placed in a variety of different positions in a sentence. In the following examples, notice the punctuation as well as the placement in the sentence.


to connect two main clauses / to show contrast

The word “however” is commonly used as an adverb to show contrast with a previous statement. The most common position of “however” is between two sentences, either set between a period and a comma or a semicolon and a comma.

  • The police are hired as public servants to serve and protect the community. However, many residents claim to fear the police.
  • The police are hired as public servants to serve and protect the community; however, many residents claim to fear the police.

“However” can also be used after the subject of the second sentence, set between commas, or at the end of the second sentence after a comma. These positions indicate that “however” is not as essential to the meaning of the sentence.

  • The police are hired as public servants to serve and protect the community. Many residents, however,claim to fear the police.
  • The police are hired as public servants to serve and protect the community. Many residents claim to fear the police, however.


an adverb meaning “in whatever manner or means”or “no matter how”

  • However you look at it, the man who was shot was unarmed.
  • The suspect was unarmed however you look at it.

Write a few sentences of your own using different forms of “however.” Experiment withsentence structure and punctuation. Can you use some of the vocabulary words this lesson in your sentences?

Additional Resources