Police militarisation

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All over the world, police officers are looking more and more like soldiers. To help us understand this militarisation, War Resisters' International has developed a new web resource. We've researched how police forces are being militarised, drawn together the various trends we can see taking place, and illustrated all of this as a new online map. You can explore the resource here: www.wri-irg.org/police

In Canada, eleven indigenous Guatemalan women are in the process of taking a multinational mining company to court. The women allege that in 2007, police officers, soldiers, and private security personnel attacked their village of Lote Ocho, in eastern Guatemala, and burned dozens of homes in a bid to drive the community from their ancestral land.

After the military coup that ended the dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner in February 1989, Paraguay went through a period of social and institutional demilitarisation. This process began early in the last decade of the last century and accelerated towards the end of that decade and the start of the next, its pace set by the national political context.

The central element of the project is one of reclamation: a restored and refitted Casspir vehicle, its surfaces covered in elaborate, brightly-coloured panels of glass beadwork arrayed in traditional patterns and completed by artisans from Zimbabwe and the Mpumalanga province of South Africa including women of the Ndebele tribe, known for their craftmanship.

The visible face of police militarisation is the use of militarised equipment and body armour; of sniper rifles and tanks facing down protesters in Ferguson, United States, and of heavily armoured vehicles patrolling the streets of the favelas of Rio de Janiero. But such conspicuous militarisation is merely a symptom – an end-product – of a militarised mindset that sees those being policed not as members of a community in need of protection but as a threat.

In 1967, Los Angeles Police Department Inspector Daryl Gates came up with the concept of SWAT based on his experience policing Black uprisings such as the Watts Riots. The War on Drugs saw higher rates of lethal force as the government transferred military equipment to police departments—a transfer that was motivated out of the government’s fear of Black liberation and antiwar movements.

Militarism is much more than military institutions or people in uniform. The military sphere has to do with the lifestyles that people adopt, their way of seeing the world, of understanding social relationships or how effective a society can be.

Kenya’s police service is currently going through a reform based on recommendations made by the National Task Force on Police Reforms.

As a police force, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) is unique in the way that it is organised and operates. It describes itself as an armed force.

Officers are known as ‘griffins’ because a griffin icon forms part of their logo.

The CNC was established in 2005, replacing the Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary which had been established in 1955.

Xstrata, a UK-registered company part of Glencore plc (an Anglo–Swiss commodity trading and mining company) is in court in London accused of hiring the Peruvian National Police (PNP) to oppress environmental protesters who were demonstrating against the Tintaya copper mine in a remote region of the Andes in 2012.

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