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Annotated Bibliography

Police Militarization in America

Sarah Neil

Professor Malcom Campbell

University Writing 1103 Honors

October 22, 2019

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Annotated Bibliography

Akpan, Nsikan. “Police Militarization Fails to Protect Officers and Targets Black Communities,

Study Finds.PBS News Hour, Public Broadcasting Service, 21 Aug. 2018,

black-communities-study-finds. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.

In this article from a popular news source, Nsikan Akpan provides commentary on a

2017 study that analyzes the consequences of using militarized police forces. The article

includes commentary from Jonathan Mummolo, who led the study. Mummolo is a

political scientist who works at Princeton University. The study found that appearance of

militarized police forces has a negative impact on community relations. The study also

found that an increased use of SWAT teams has little to no effect on the crime rate or

level of public safety. Critics argue that militarized police forces target minority

communities. Before conducting his study, Mummolo found this claim hard to support

with evidence. However, he found that predominately black communities witnessed more

SWAT team deployments regardless of the crime rate. The article also includes

commentary from Fredrick Lemieux, who is a criminologist at Georgetown University.

He explains that the use of SWAT teams has deviated from their initial application and

has become present in less risky operations. To support this, the article provides an

example of the improper and excessive use of militarized force during a drug trafficking

bust in Maryland. Supported by the information of Mummolo’s study the author argues

that the militarization of police departments can lead to the infringement of civil liberties

for the sake of public safety. One of the final arguments highlighted in the article was that

the militant appearance of police officers can lower confidence and support of police

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departments. The author Nsikan Akpan is a digital science producer for PBS News Hour

and a cofounder of the award-winning digital series entitled ScienceScope. In 2012

Nsikan Akpan earned a Doctorate in Cell Biology and Pathobiology from Colombia

University in the City of New York. Akpan has a variety of work that has been published

by numerous organizations such as National Public Radio, Scientific American, The

Scientist Magazine and Popular Science. PBS News Hour is a news outlet that distributes

media through television broadcasting, radio broadcasting, podcasts and online news

reporting. The PBS News Hour website has over 5.5 million monthly national and

international users. PBS News Hour is supported by over 300 PBS stations, generating an

expansive and diverse viewing audience. The information in this news article is presented

objectively but may have a slight lean to the left. The article is supported by the findings

of an academic study and commentary by professionals in criminal justice. This article

formulates conversation with the opposing views of organizations like the FBI. This

article makes specific commentary on the opinions of the publisher of one of my other

sources. I will use this source to support the general public’s opinion and perception of

police militarization in my paper in contrast to the opinions of law enforcement agencies.

This article is not specifically based on Akpan’s field of study, but his root in academia

provides unique insight on the topic that needs to be considered. Overall, I think this is a

good source of information that explains how the militant appearance of police officers in

certain scenarios can affect the community’s perception of law enforcement.

Fortenbery, Jay. “Police Militarization in a Democratic Society.FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin,

FBI Training Division, 13 June 2018,

militarization-in-a-democratic-society. Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.

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This article from a periodical explains the need for enhanced training and equipment in

modern policing and how police forces have adapted throughout time to respond to high

risk threats. The author claims that the modern separation of the police and the military

was influenced by the clash between colonists and British troops that took on policing

roles in Colonial America. The author agrees with Sir Robert Peel’s philosophy that law

enforcement needs public approval to successfully and efficiently operate. Sir Robert

Peel is recognized as the father of modern policing for his Metropolitan Police Act of

1829. Peel envisioned police forces working alongside their communities, not against

them. He also mentions the influence August Vollmer, a former police chief in California

who is recognized for his effort in developing the criminal justice field. Vollmer

implemented the use of patrol vehicles and radios; these two tools are still useful in

modern policing. Many police departments operate on a rank system like that of the

military, this structure influences the way departments respond to different situations.

This article provides historical context and reasoning for the implementation of military

characteristics in policing. Starting with the implementation of automatic rifles to combat

armed mobs and gangsters in the 1920’s, the addition of non-lethal weapons used to

control large crowds in the 1960’s and 1970’s, the use of SWAT teams during the War on

Drugs, and ending with the use of assault rifles to respond to active shooters in the late

1990’s. Through research, Fortenbery found that the militarization of police departments

appears to correlate with the criminal activity within a community and the unique

problems in certain locations. The article warns that the overuse of tactical forces can

make the police department appear intimidating and less approachable, leading to broken

community relations. The article also examines and explains the support police officers

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often have for the implementation of military elements in modern policing. Fortenbery

concludes that the rights of citizens should be considered before the implementation or

use of militant training and equipment. The author, Dr. Jay Fortenbery served as a police

officer for 20 years and as the Edenton Chief of Police for nine years. Dr. Jay Fortnebery

earned his Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Administration

from Nova Southeastern University in 2016. He is currently an assistant professor of

criminal justice at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. This publication is

focused on police militarization, making Fortenbry a credible author. Fortnebery has

published three articles in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. The FBI Law Enforcement

Bulletin is an online only government periodical. The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

publishes articles on various topics that are considered relevant to criminal justice

professionals and law enforcement officials. The Bulletin has been nationally and

internationally recognized since its creation in 1932. All works submitted to The FBI Law

Enforcement Bulletin are subject to review and revision to verify accuracy and relevancy.

The Bulletin is published by the FBI Training Division. The FBI Training Division’s

mission is to inform and educate professionals in the criminal justice field on the issues

facing law enforcement today. This publication is subject to a slight bias supportive of

the criminal justice system, but the author presents this article objectively and refers to

multiple arguments. This is a good source of information because the author is

experienced and knowledgeable in the field he is writing about. This article provided me

with the reasoning behind the implementation of military characteristics in police forces.

I will use this source to incorporate professional recommendations directed towards law

enforcement. I will also reference this source to highlight the specific scenarios enhanced

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equipment and training was intended to be used for and how this equipment has been

used out of context in certain instances.

Insler, Michael A, et al. From Broken Windows to Broken Bonds: Militarized Police and Social

Fragmentation.Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, vol. 163, 15 May 2019,

pp.43-62. ScienceDirect,

Accessed 14 Oct. 2019.

This academic journal answers questions about how the militarization of police

departments affects society and minority communities. This source goes into detail about

the Department of Defense’s Excess Property Program 1103 and its effect on civic

engagement with a focus on charitable giving, especially in African American

communities. This journal weighs the benefits and drawbacks of police militarization.

There is a fine line between using a more militarized police force to increase

productivity; allowing the community to feel more protected and secure, compared to an

over bearing use of force that causes trepidation and fear. This journal explains that the

more communities trust their law enforcement agencies the more likely they are to be

civically engaged in their communities. The study found that civic engagement among

African American households has decreased and tension between law enforcement and

communities has increased. Simultaneously police militarization efforts have grown in

scale and scope within the last two decades. The first author listed, Michael A. Insler

earned a Doctorate in Economics at the University of Rochester in 2001. Michael Insler

is currently an associate professor at the United States Naval Academy. The academic

journal’s co-author Alexander F. McQuoid has a Doctorate in Philosophy and works as

an assistant professor at the United States Naval Academy. The third author Bryce

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McMurrey also works for the US Naval Academy. Although the authors do not have a

background in law enforcement or criminal justice, they provide a researched based claim

from a military standpoint. Their military background increases the likelihood of a bias

towards military training and supplies. This academic journal article is presented

objectively with an abundance of factual and statistical information. This academic

journal article was located on a subscription-based website called ScienceDirect.

ScienceDirect focuses on the distribution of scientific journals and medical research. The

Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization is an academic journal published by

Elsevier. This journal focuses primarily on research involving economics. This source

will be useful in my essay to incorporate a study conducted by three people affiliated

with the military in some way. I can use this source to explain how the militarization of

police forces can lead to a lower level of civic engagement and charitable giving within

certain communities. This knowledge will allow me to approach this topic from an

economic perspective. This article takes a different approach than my other sources by

looking at the economic and social effects of police militarization rather than how it

specifically targets certain communities.