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Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

American Police are Overly Militarized

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/15/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,486 times Debate No: 60485
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




American Police, as most recently seen in the ongoing Ferguson, Missouri unrest, are overly militarized. BoP is shared.

Overly Militarized = the employment of weapons, equipment, and tactics that are disproportionate to the threat. An overly aggressive posture that is counterproductive.

Round 1 = acceptance only (no arguments)
Round 2 = opening arguments (no rebuttals)
Round 3 = rebuttals
Round 4 = response/conclusion


I accept, and thank you Pro for bringing an important topic to the debating floor. I'm looking forward for a mutual learning experience from a constructive debate.
Debate Round No. 1


The definition of overly militarized involves two components. First, it involves the employment of weapons, equipment, and tactics that are disproportionate to the tangible threat. Second, it is an overall force posture that is overly aggressive to the point of being counterproductive. My argument will follow these two components.

Before I begin, I will be the first to acknowledge that our police must be allowed to protect themselves when threatened. Threats manifest over a broad spectrum, and therefore response options must be equally broad. This spectrum includes the occasional need for powerful weapons and aggressive tactics. I am not advocating the complete removal of necessary capabilities from our police force. I am arguing that far too often, the police exercise an extreme response option to moderate threats.

Weapons, equipment, tactics: Police forces across the nation often employ measures against American citizens that the military itself often does not employ against enemy combatants. While the exact arsenal data of police forces are not publicly accessible, pictures from recent police actions show some of their capabilities. M4's, M16's, M14's, sniper systems, Kevlar ballistic helmets, 7.62mm compatible body armor, helicopters, working dogs, gas masks, camouflage uniforms, etc... Pictures emerging from Ferguson, Missouri (which is certainly not the only example) showing police officers in camouflage, riding in heavily armored vehicles designed to survive IEDs, carrying primary and secondary weapons, openly carrying literally hundreds of rounds of rifle ammunition in multiple 30 round magazines, and wearing not the soft anti-pistol body armor most officers wear under their uniforms but external ceramic SAPI plate carriers, designed to stop 7.62mm rounds from AK-47 rifles. It is doubtful that any of the protesters in Missouri were brandishing AK-47s and IEDs. One must ask why such excessive weapons were employed against an extremely lightly armed (if armed at all) crowd. Does each police officer really need to carry 120 rounds for his M4? Another interesting question is why the police were wearing military style camouflage. Were they truly trying to blend into their environment? Or was it a symbol, intended to intimidate through militaristic undertones? Tactical clothing almost always comes in a variety of colors, from solid tan and black to various camouflage patterns. So why are police forces increasingly choosing camouflage patterns over a more police-like black or blue? What message does this send to the communities they are protecting?

A quick image search of any of the school shootings in the past decade further supports this point. Does a 15 year old with a pistol really require dozens, even hundreds of fully armored police in armored vehicles, carrying assault rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles, using helicopters and working dogs? Again, I am in no way making light of school shootings or police protecting themselves and others. However, the U.S. military doesn't even employ such assets against a similarly armed foe in combat zones. The reason they do not is because there are better, more effective ways to deal with such situations. Such a response is in no way proportional to the threat, and in fact can make the situation even more dangerous by putting innocent lives at risk.

Overly aggressive posture: The overall posture of an armed force makes a huge difference in stressful situations. The military has learned this in over a decade of hard, bloody lessons. The U.S. Army counterinsurgency manual, FM 3-24.2, highlights these hard earned lessons. Such instructions as "Your ideal position is when you are present and not noticed" are found in its pages. Furthermore, military officers and scholars have written numerous counterinsurgency articles which include lessons such as "the more you protect your force, the less secure you are," and "the more force you use, the less effective you are."[1] Of course, American citizens are not insurgents and police are not fighting a counterinsurgency. But policing and COIN share many similar aspects, and police forces would be wise to learn from the military in these cases. During the Occupy Wall Street protest, while heavily armed police were violently clashing with protesters across the country, Salt Lake City police chief Chris Burbank experienced great success by taking a softer approach. He had his police go into the crowds without their aggressive and intimidating armor, talking one on one with protesters, de-escalating the situation, and got most of the protesters to disperse without resistance [2].

Looking at recent pictures from Missouri and elsewhere, we see police officers in combat gear and camouflage openly pointing sniper rifles into crowds atop armored vehicles, raising M4's to the high ready position against approaching citizens. There is no reason to behave this way toward American citizens on American soil unless Police are actively being fired upon or exposed to an imminent threat. In most cases, such behavior only escalates tension and violence, daring crowds to react and resist.

In conclusion, police are increasingly employing tactics, weapons, and equipment in an overly aggressive posture that is disproportionate to the threats they face in the vast majority of situations. Such behavior is counter productive, and, as such, overly militarized.



Are American Police overly militarized? How did we get here? Today's militarization is in headlines across the nation ( Is militarization a Federal government decree ( The Federal government, over the last 100-years, centralized power from the states resulting in a soft tyranny. The fallout from a soft tyranny is the catalyst of militarization and is the historical focus of my argument.

A soft tyranny is illustrated by the many laws on the books, where the average person commits 3 felonies a day ( Via the NSA, IRS, police state, etc., the decision for enforcement to incarcerate is a function of one's objective. It could be any objective similar to what Lavrenti Beria, chief of Josef Stalin's secret police, once stated, “Find me the man, and I'll find the crime” ( Lately one may ask, is DC concerned about drugs and terrorism, or are we becoming paranoid for other reasons? For example, a Helmetta NJ Police Officer recently noted, if Obama doesn't follow the Constitution, we don't have to ( Paranoia is in the air.

Terrorism came to the mainland after 9/11/2001, the bloodshed in Boston, terrorism at Fort Hood, and many claimed prevented terrorist attacks by our police state. In addition, ISIS is on the move with their threats (

We have open border issues, which precipitated the 9/11 disaster, and potential future terrorist attacks. This issue started with the 1965 Immigration Law changing the face of America (

The 1965 Law opened the border for relatives, enjoying the perks from the Great Society ( and the earlier New Deal ( programs. Over the decades, more free social perks, creating a debt crises (, while more people want to come to the US for many uninvited reasons. The rate of immigration, via our open boarders, is so great where we no longer maintain the melting pot (, while the US is losing its identity ( over diversity, as many want to transform the US to their own culture, language, etc., while danger lurks at the boarder (

Thanks to the “living constitutional” form of government is taking its toll. This form of government is the child of President Woodrow Wilson ( Wilson used the popular political fad of his time known as Social Darwinism. His argument appeals to any powerbroker of the past and present, with Wilson's stated logic:

Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.”

This logic went against the Newtonian structure of the US Constitution. Wilson also took issue with the individual's Unalienable Rights (, where he went on to say:

No doubt a great deal of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual ...”

Clearly, Wilson rejected the foundation of the US Constitution starting a slow cancer known as the “living constitution,” and this cancer has metastasize. Today's Congress represents the lobbyist not the people, while the President has a “pen and a phone” to make law, the administration branch (a fourth branch, not part of the Constitution’s three branches) is made up of hundreds of departments (IRS, NSA, EPA, etc.). These departments employ hundreds of thousands of non-elected government employees, writing regulations having the same power as law, to control, monitor us, etc. Today, the people are essentially out of the loop, except on Election Day, and look what choices we have.

The US government controlled educational system promote “living constitutional” concepts, to benefit the freedom and growth of government, while reducing the freedom of the people.

In addition, the problem of racism seems to be getting worst.

"There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs. There is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well."

A quote by Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) African American political leader, educator and author (

Our nemesis is morality. If society does not have a good understanding of morality, more complicated laws emerge trying to keep the peace, institutional public surveillance becomes commonplace, militarization in law-enforcement is noticeable. Complicated laws morph into plundering dictates, while regulations kill economic freedom. In addition, the leaders of government are also part of this population having similar moral standing. If government controls education, then the moral decline will result in a soft tyranny.

This is stuff you don't learn in our government controlled educational system.

In modern times, secularism is on the rise where the traditional view of morality rest with religious organizations or at the home. Today's educational systems are becoming schizophrenic about the importance of morality in a civil society, and who is responsible for its teachings.

John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, once said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (

In this post Constitutional era, declining morality (school shootings, crime ridden neighborhoods as in Chicago, Detroit, etc.), stress from DC's soft tyranny, race baiting professionals, open borders, terrorism, disgusted citizens, the financial bubble, New World Order, and on, and on. With all those factions coming together, our Police need to be militarized to keep the peace during the wars of racism, street violence, terrorism, tyranny, financial uncertainty, and patriotism.

With such a bleak horizon, one could only hope, their local Police officers live in the same town, sharing your desires of keeping the family safe in their moral pursuit of happiness.

Police officers must remember to uphold and defend the US Constitution, and both Police and citizens encourage their state governments to fix DC (

Militarization is a function of morality and government tyranny. With that said, I regret to say, to many of those communities throughout the heartland, the days of the Andy Griffith Show are over; a 1960s parity of militarization in the rural heartland embracing morality (
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you Con for the detailed opening argument.

We are now in the rebuttal round.

Con's argument covers a wide array of topics. I can identify comments about history, President Obama, 9/11, ISIS, immigration, Constitutional theory, lobbyists, Booker T. Washington, morality, economics, education, secularization, the Andy Griffith Show, to name a few. While I certainly enjoy learning about history and applaud my opponent's use of sources, the only piece that seems to be missing from Con's argument is the actual militarization of police.

Con briefly mentions that the police need to be militarized because of all the bad things that are happening in the world. However, that is not really the topic of this debate. Discussing whether police should be militarized is at best a tangential issue that avoids the real argument. The key word in the debate title is "Overly." The argument here is not whether the police should be militarized in any way, but that they are, at present, excessively so. I hope I made it fairly clear in my opening argument that I fully support police retaining equipment and weapons to protect themselves in worst case scenarios. Police are justified in responding in a military style against a militarized threat. My argument, however, is that police have no need to don camouflage uniforms, point sniper rifles into crowds, and conduct routine patrols in IED proof vehicles if there is no realistic threat to justify it. The small town of Doraville, GA (pop. 8,482) [1] has absolutely no need for a military armored personnel carrier filled with assault rifle toting police driving around to the song "die mother f*****, die" followed by the logo from the comic book character "The Punisher." [2] The police in Keene, New Hampshire do not need an IED resistant armored vehicle with gun mounts and thermal optics to prepare for a possible terrorist attack on their annual Pumpkin Festival. (And yes, that was the actual justification used by the Keene PD) [3]. Police departments are increasingly buying and employing equipment best suited for threats found in Baghdad and Kabul. This is the sum of my argument.

Since I do not believe Con presented any relevant information to rebut, I must, unfortunately, conclude. Once again, the question is not whether police should be militarized to some degree. I fully support the use of powerful weapons and equipment by police if they face an equivalent threat. But such threats are extremely rare, and the rate at which such responses are used against American citizens is overly aggressive and counterproductive.

I look forward to my opponent further clarifying their argument in the next round.



Thank you Pro for your opening argument and rebuttal.

I (Con) is also concerned, like Pro, about the militarization of America's Police. Pro's “key word in the debate title is, Overly.” “Overly” is simply relative. Perhaps, Pro is looking for more laws and regulations from DC to set standards in the Police Codes (

Con's opening arguments point to the source of Police militarization. That is, Militarization is a function of Government-tyranny and Morality. Con made it clear, if Pro would like to reduce Police militarization, Pro needs to rally society to address tyranny and morality. The best place to start is encouraging your local state government's interest in fixing DC ( and decouple our educational system from the Federal government, returning control back to the local communities. However, that task may be too difficult for Pro to get his arms around. Pro made a critical first step, start a debate about the issue.

Pro is not alone with this debate, for many are starting to express their concerns throughout society. Con is sadden about the popular source of blame, including Pro, are blaming the Police, while not understanding the historical cause. The biased stimulus from mainstream media getting the populist all worked up over this issue, will most likely be short term, complaining to DC, making it a national campaign issue. It is like the hens in a chicken coop going to the fox complaining there are too many coyotes in the pen.

Con cannot stress enough to Pro that there are a number of homeland wars on the horizon: racism, street violence, terrorism, tyranny, economic, and patriotism. One should be concern about the conquest ideology of Islam. Just look at their history of wars, and with our open boarders, they are here and they are increasing in numbers ( There is no question if they are going to attack us, they already did, while our Police force is militarizing. All because of morality. That is, the immoral terrorism of one ideology to exterminate another, as oppose to living together in peace (

Con is disturbed about Pro's demilitarizing tone of our Police in this New World Order. Pro complains, why all this show of disproportional force. Con likes that show, it is advertisement to the uninvited potential local terrorist that my Police force is preparing. Con views the local Police force as my neighbors, living in the same town or city, who also have family and friends in that community. I like to be friends with my neighbors, it is the moral thing to do, especially the ones who will protect my family and friends. Remember, the local Police are your neighbors, where the ruling-class in DC, do not live in your town and are far removed from the day-to-day safety of your neighborhood.

I too would like our Police having a proportional happy face during the “annual Pumpkin Festival,” but thanks to the oligarch in DC and our educational system, our country and society has changed in the shadow of this New World Order--the days of the Andy Griffith Show are over. Relative to the Andy Griffith show, militarization is the trend and the new norm, where some will naturally find it “Overly” too much, or wish they had more, the day their neighborhood is under siege.
Debate Round No. 3


Regrettably, I believe my opponent is now way off course. Their argument has gone from irrelevant to strange.

I agree that "overly" is a relative term, but that's the whole point - it challenges us both to make a case confirming or denying its application. I believe I have done so, I submit my opponent has not.

Con seems to be arguing over the causes of police militarization while simultaneously encouraging me to help reduce the power of the Federal government. This is not at all what the debate is about. The former is irrelevant and the latter is not even an argument. The causes of police militarization, whatever they may be, are a side issue. The issue I was hoping to debate was simply if police are excessively militarized, not how they got that way.

While I can appreciate that my opponent seems to feel very strongly about hypothetical race wars, Islam, New World Order, and "the ruling class in DC," this is all irrelevant and unproven. It's a poor excuse at best to employ your police arsenal against "uninvited potential local terrorists." The potential existence of vague, poorly defined, highly unlikely terrorist activity is no justification for acting like an occupation force in a foreign land. The military itself would not even take such measures. If Al Qaeda attacks the Pumpkin Festival, by all means, bust out the camo and bring the armored personnel carriers. Until then, keep that stuff in the storage closet.

Once again, Con has not really provided any relevant points to rebut, so I will conclude. Since Con did not actually address the topic, I ask the vote go for Pro.

Thank you to Con for accepting the challenge.


I'm sorry that Pro missed my bold print in Round 2 stating my (Con) position that our Police need to be militarized. Con gave Pro the reasons why militarization is taking place with a historical overview of our changing social environment.

The title of this debate, the stake in the ground, “American Police are Overly Militarized” and the Burden of Proof (BoP) is on Pro. Con gave historical events why such militarization is taking place, where Pro offered an emotional argument lacking any Police force standard on militarization. Since there are no standards, Police force militarization is a decision of the local community, and that is where it should be. Pro made reference to military doctrine as cross reference but such reference is improper. Military is trained to kill and destroy, where Police are trained to protect and save.

On a side note, military doctrine today is not the same as it was during WWII, the last combat war we won. All the other stalemate wars, from Korea on up to today, are more like political Police actions. Perhaps, the military should stop acting like Police.

In closing, I thank Pro for bringing an important topic to the debating floor, where at least, we have a better understanding why our Police are becoming militarized. And finally, I look forward in meeting Pro again on the debating floor.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by sengejuri 3 years ago

No worries. If you would like to debate that last point in your comment, send me an invite! That would be a really interesting debate.
Posted by Mike_10-4 3 years ago

I stand to be corrected on BoP. Sorry about that!

As for the "Persian Gulf War," that was just a battle in the War on Islamic Terrorism. We are still over there battling on the same land. Now with ISIS, we simply made no advancements, as our political Police pull out. We simply forgot how to fight a war, in place of political correctness.
Posted by sengejuri 3 years ago
I realize the debate is over, but i have to address a few things as a personal note. First, i do not have BoP, BoP was clearly established as shared (see round 1). I did not miss Con's bold point that police need to be militarized (see round 3). And the last war america won was the first Persian Gulf War, fyi.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con never really addressed the *motion*. Arguing history, or defending the police, was all irrelevant to whether the police were overly militarized. Pro argued they were. Con argued that Woodrow Wilson was a Social Darwinist. It was a strange debate, but the win seems to clearly go to Pro on this one.