Fault Lines

Deadly Force: Arming America’s Police

We explore how the flow of money and combat equipment is transforming US police departments into military-like forces.

US police forces are increasingly using military-style tactics to carry out even the most routine daily operations.

It teaches them to see everyone, not as a citizen with rights, not as somebody they're supposed to be serving, but as a potential threat.

by Radley Balko, Washington Post reporter

The number of SWAT teams and SWAT-style raids across the county have skyrocketed in the last few decades. SWAT raids occur at an estimated 50,000 raids per year and a majority take place for low-level crimes.

It is a trend that is being propped up by billions of federal dollars in Homeland Security grants and access to free military equipment through the Department of Defense for civilian law enforcement agencies.

In the past, police SWAT teams were only used in extreme circumstances; today, they are increasingly sent out to perform routine tasks.

Nowadays, there are tens of thousands of military-style police raids every year. But only the worst cases make the news.

Fault Lines travels to California and Tennessee to look at the effects of the increasing militarisation of US police departments.