Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Radley Balko

Narrated By: William Hughes

Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks

Date: July 2013

Duration: 13 hours 17 minutes


The American approach to law enforcement was forged by the experience of revolution. Emerging as they did from the shadow of British rule, the country’s founders would likely have viewed police as they exist today as a standing army and therefore a threat to liberty. Even so, excessive force and disregard for the Bill of Rights have become epidemic in America today. According to civil liberties reporter Radley Balko, these are all symptoms of a generation-long shift to increasingly aggressive, militaristic, and arguably unconstitutional policing—one that would have shocked the conscience of America’s founders.

Rise of the Warrior Cop traces the arc of US law enforcement from the constables and private justice of colonial times to present-day SWAT teams and riot cops. Today relentless “war on drugs” and “war on terror” pronouncements from politicians, along with battle-clad police forces with tanks and machine guns, have dangerously blurred the distinction between cop and soldier. Balko’s fascinating, frightening narrative shows how martial rhetoric and reactionary policies have put modern law enforcement on a collision course with the values of a free society.

“Radley Balko is one of those throw-back journalists that understands the power of groundbreaking reporting and how to make a significant impact through his work. Time and time again, his stories cause readers to stop, think, and, most significantly, take action.”—Judges’ Statement, Los Angeles Press Club Awards Ceremony


  • jason s

    If you have any questions on why the police situation in the US is the way it is, open this. It's a catch 22 though because the world of law enforcement has a very tough job with the growing level of violence in America and world wide.

  • Robert Christopher

    Really interesting listen. The author starts back in the ancient civilizations and chronicles the evolution of law enforcement. That was really cool. This book should be required listening for every new cop as well as citizens as it would shine a light on the interaction between cops and the citizenry. I respect law enforcement officers, but the "us against them" mentality has got to change or there will be a civil war between the citizens and the militarized police. Got to get back to "protect and serve".

  • William Jones

    A great book really covering how we got here. Makes me worry, makes me wonder if I an next just for being alive.

  • Susan Pippin

    Great book. The narrator was easy to listen to and did an outstanding job narrating it.

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces

by Radley Balko

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Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, Radley Balko