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Militarizing Mayberry and Beyond: Making Sense of American Paramilitary Policing

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1997) Pages: 607-629
P B Kraska; L J Cubellis
Date Published
23 pages
Findings presented in this article document the growth in numbers, expansion in activities, and movement toward normalization of small-locality police paramilitary units.
The study analyzed in this article was based on national-level data derived from a survey of all police agencies serving 25,000 to 50,000 people. Findings document a previously unrecognized phenomenon: the growth, expansion, and movement toward normalization of small-locality police paramilitary units (PPU). The article: (1) examines implications of these findings for small-locality policing; (2) situates the phenomenon within broader paramilitary changes in the police; (3) refutes the notion that the rise of PPUs is a response to changes in crime; and (4) contextualizes the phenomenon by discussing the lingering influence of the military model, the recent popularity of paramilitary subculture, changing police tactics in the war on drugs, police reform efforts, and the quest to modernize the criminal justice apparatus. Noting similar developments in corrections, the article concludes that the phenomenon should not be regarded as merely a peculiar manifestation of get-tough policies. Rather, it corresponds closely to attempts by the state to further refine its administration of violence. Notes, figures, table, references