November 12, 2014

Militarization and the Changing Culture of Policing in America

Ferguson, Militarization, police militarization, War on Drugs, War on Terror

Christopher Durocher

American Constitution Society
Begin: 0:00

Congressman Henry C. Johnson, Jr.

United States Congress
Begin: 3:45

Kimberly Atkins

Boston Herald
Begin: 20:20

Kara Dansky

ACLU Center for Justice
Begin: 24:46

Barry Friedman

New York University School of Law
Begin: 32:30

Ronald Hampton

National Police Accountability Project
Begin: 39:15

Thomas Nolan

Merrimack College
Begin: 46:38

On Wednesday, November 12, ACS hosted a panel discussion about the effects and legal ramifications of the increased use of military equipment by local police departments across the country and the steps federal, state and local policymakers can take to combat this trend.

This summer, the nation witnessed one of the most high-profile displays of police militarization to date, when police donned camouflage tactical gear and climbed aboard heavily armored vehicles to meet protestors in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. The militarization of police, however, is neither new nor isolated. Local police departments across the nation, participating in federal programs sponsored by the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice, increasingly have access to equipment traditionally reserved for military use, including body armor, high powered rifles, “sound cannons,” armored vehicles, and grenade launchers. How have these programs, ostensibly designed to aid law enforcement in the War on Drugs and the War on Terror, altered the culture of police departments? As police have come to more closely resemble paramilitary forces, what does it mean for our Fourth Amendment rights?  And what is the impact on communities of color, which are often the most heavily policed?

Christopher Durocher, Director of Policy Development and Programming, American Constitution Society for Law & Policy

Opening Remarks:
Congressman Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA)


  • Moderator, Kimberly Atkins, Chief Washington Reporter/Columnist, Boston Herald
  • Kara Danksy, Senior Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Barry Friedman, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Professor of Law, New York University School of Law
  • Ronald Hampton, Advisor to National Police Accountability Project; former Executive Director, National Black Police Association; former Community Relations Officer, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
  • Tom Nolan, Associate Professor of Criminology & Director of Graduate Programs in Criminology, Merrimack College; former Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties; former lieutenant, Boston Police Department