Instigator / Con

The police should be demilitarized


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Militarization of police= "The militarization of police is the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored personnel carriers, assault rifles, submachine guns, flashbang grenades, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and Special Weapons and Tactics teams. " Wikipedia

I would of course be arguing against the resolution stated in the debate title and my opponent for the resolution.

Round 1

Thank you con for accepting this debate. I look forward to it. Cops are easy to hate now days. My opponent hates them because his Twitter feed told him to, and I want to address some of his rationalizations he uses to justify his hatred as being reasonable. One of those rationalizations he uses is that the police are too militarized. He wants the police demilitarized. 

I am keeping this debate fair for my opponent. We’ll talk about American police. The resolution is not very specific, but I want to keep in the spirit of the earlier discussions I have had with theweakeredge. I won’t bring up police departments who we may already consider demilitarized like Australian or New Zealand police. We’ll stick to the police who get the most criticism for being too militarized. 

Origins of Militarization

American’s love their guns. During the prohibition criminals started carrying Thompson sub Machine Guns.[1] Police were outnumbered and being easily overwhelmed. It was around this time where Bonnie and Clyde were robbing banks and shooting down any cop that got in their way and easily overwhelming them with fire power. 

After several decades of organized and sometimes disorganized crime and criminals being able to easily outgun the police, perhaps the first form of militarization occurred. In the early 1970s the first SWAT units started to form. They were intended to use military strategies to deal with things like hostage situations, bomb threats and terrorism to a certain degree. 

I think I can pinpoint the actual beginning of the movement to militarize the cops (Though they would prefer different terminology to describe it). The point the movement to better arm police, occurred in 1997 right after the North Hollywood Shooting. Footage can be found in my 2nd source.[2] It is a 44 minute shootout and can be considered graphic by some people considering at one point one of the suspects actually shoots himself in the head when reloading, among other things. I hope you watch it though. It will show you what happens when police are not militarized.

Two bank robbers robbed a bank and were wearing body armor and they were armed with AK47s. Not only were they armed with AK47s and had body armor on, but the police who confronted them on the way out of the bank were armed with 9 mm’s. We had assault weapons and body armor vs two unprepared cops with mere side arms. 

Bullets were bouncing off of these guys even after the SWAT team arrived. They still had the SWAT team outgunned. The police did not have an armored vehicle, and so were very vulnerable as were civilians in the area. Luckily an armored car was near by that they did manage to use as a shield to protect civilians so they could get them away from the 2000 rounds that ended up being shot that day, and 2000 rounds is a conservative estimate.

In order to end the shoot out, the cops had to go to the pawn shop next door to get some automatic weapons and armor piercing rounds. In 1997, 20 people 12 of which were police officers received very serious injuries from gun shots. These people faced 44 minutes of hell and if it happened in 2021, this would have been over almost immediately due to the militarization of police. 

My opponent’s policies would lead to more incidents like the North Hollywood shootout, and would leave cops totally unprepared for things like the pulse nightclub shooting or the Vegas shooting that took place 2 years ago, with significantly more injured than the already absurd amount in those moments. 

The shoot out in North hollywood resulted in the department of defense using it’s surplus of weapons to the LAPD, most of which are M16’s. The police now carry automatic and semi automatic weapons in their patrol car and have armor plated doors. [3]

In 1999, police had still not learned their lesson about needing to be more militarized. In a country that has so many powerful guns, and for them to be so easily obtained, the police and us as a nation were still naive about the need for police militarization. When the military is overseas facing an active shooter, they take him out immediately. In 1999 the police received a call that an active shooting situation was occurring at Columbine high school. The 2 shooters, just 17 and high schoolers themselves, went into the school to kill as many people as they could. They planted bombs in the cafeteria and on vehicles outside of the school in the parking lot, timing them so that kids running from the cafeteria bomb would die when they got to the parking lot in an attempted escape.

There were 6 police outside waiting for the SWAT team while the shooters were methodically going from the library to the cafeteria and gunning down person after person. Reports say they were shouting things like “Oh yeah, I’m having a good time”, while they had smiles on their faces. It was over 2 hours by the time police entered the school. By that time the shooters had grown bored of killing their classmates and shot themselves. Not a single police bullet hit anybody while these kids were being systematically slaughtered. 12 in all with 23 facing life changing injuries and more developing psychological diseases as a result.

After the incident police started using military like response to active shooters by moving towards gunfire, using what’s called rapid deployment and sweeping rooms until the threat is neutralized. There is no more waiting on the Calvary.[4] 

My opponent would have us demilitarize the police so they use the tactics and weapons that led to the tragedies in Columbine and North Hollywood, and leave us defenseless against the next terrorist that decides to do a Las Vegas style or Pulse nightclub style shooting. 

The Cost of militarization

My opponent may argue that the police get 4.5 billion dollars in military grade equipment, and the cost of equipment is not worth the life saving benefit of militarization. Maybe my opponent will claim that active shooter incidents aren’t that common anyway, so police should sacrifice the extra lives saved to cut costs.

I’d argue that even if it were true that police were spending billions on militarization, that it is worth it just to avoid another Columbine. The 1033 act is an order for the military to give surplus equipment to police departments. Some of the equipment is bullet proof vests, sometimes armored vehicles, sometimes it’s just fee camouflage and boots. It doesn’t cost police departments a dime and the military is certainly not intentionally creating the surplus and spending more because of it. [5]


Unfortunately I am cutting this short, but I think my strongest arguments will actually be my rebuttals, since the bulk of the BOP is on my opponent. I appreciate him accepting this debate and look forward to his round.


RESOLUTION: The police should be demilitarized

As societies have progressed, there has been an increasingly increased rate of group leadership, this is, in contrPropast to, single leadership. We are, mostly, far and away from the days of a single ruler in first world countries, and even such countries with monarchies intact have a parliamentary procedure in order to... try to check the monarch's power.  Though one could argue any democracy is lead by a single citizen, the president, in a proper representative democracy, that power is given to a voted official, the power of which policies to ensure (theoretically), belongs to the people with suffrage, the right to vote. -

In order to enforce their power, they have a group of armed citizens, trained to enforce the democracy as agreed upon by the citizens proverbial signing of the societal contract.  This enforcement force takes on many forms, the FBI, CIA, and, the group under discussion today, the state police departments. Before one can justly argue for their repertoire, it is essential to identify the actual role that police have in society, and that is - enforcing the rules of democracy as the represented voted officials have agreed upon. They are ensuring that laws are followed and that society can prosper.

Then the obvious question becomes the unspoken elephant in the room - do the Police need military-grade equipment to enforce the laws of, and yes, this is not in the resolution, but for discussion, America? My opponent has argued that we should not "de"militarize the police force, and again - has not submitted a specific country - therefore I will assume of America. In order for that question to be answered as precisely as possible, it is required that I define all terms in the resolution as authoritatively as possible - vague definitions are only likely to inhibit the truth of the matter.

Proposed Definition:
  • Militarization of Police - "The militarization of police is the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored personnel carriers, assault rifles, submachine guns, flashbang grenades, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and Special Weapons and Tactics teams."
Source: Wikipedia - Definition accepted - though its sourcing is vague, a very quick search eliminated the problem: [LINK] - furthermore, it is topical to the resolution at hand - and will therefore be preferred over the course of the debate.


The resolution: The police should be demilitarized, in order to properly interpret the resolution it is imperative that the definitions of each term in the stated resolution be explained; some of the words or prefixes in the resolution have multiple meanings; such as De meaning to either add the meaning "remove" or "reduce" - the resolution could be interpreted to mean either of these: "The correct/best thing for the police to do is to make the use of military equipment and tactics less" or "The correct/best thing for the police to do is to take away the use of military equipment and tactics" arguing for either interpretation would fulfill my burden of proof.

  • As explained in INT. T. RES. above arguing that the militarization of the police should be reduced or removed are both valid ways to fulfill my burden of proof
  • As should is defined it requires a standard to be established, that way the voters can determine what the "best/correct" thing to do is - therefore if my opponent fails to recommend a standard for his resolution, his argument is untopical, as it falls outside of the resolution
  • There ought to be no arguments regarding the legal "how" of the resolutions, nor the practicality, only what is the "best" thing to do.

  • Ia - the priority of the police
  • Ib - the foundation
  • Ic - the multiple standards
In order to properly establish a standard regarding what the "best/correct" thing to do is- we must first identify what it is that the police are trying to do. That means an identification of the goal that the police hope to accomplish, with that in mind, then can the voters reasonably infer what is the "best" thing for the police to do. Previously, I posited that the goal of the police is to enforce the rule of law in society, to uphold the societal contract signed by every citizen. However, such postulation is little more than unsubstantiated claims without any sourcing; as such, I submit the following to reinforce my arguments [1]:

"Standard 1-2.2. Major current responsibilities of police
In assessing appropriate objectives and priorities for police service, local communities should initially recognize that most police agencies are currently given responsibility, by design or default, to:
(a) identify criminal offenders and criminal activity and, where appropriate, to apprehend offenders and participate in subsequent court proceedings;
(b) reduce the opportunities for the commission of some crimes through preventive patrol and other measures;
(c) aid individuals who are in danger of physical harm;
(d) protect constitutional guarantees;
(e) facilitate the movement of people and vehicles;
(f) assist those who cannot care for themselves;
(g) resolve conflict;
(h) identify problems that are potentially serious law enforcement or governmental problems;
(i) create and maintain a feeling of security in the community;
(j)) promote and preserve civil order; and
(k) provide other services on an emergency basis."
It is true that such text does not deliberately states: "uphold the societal contract" - notice that collectively the police do such things as to uphold the contract, specifically: A, B, C, D, F, J - these services, broadly, include idenitfiyng and apprehending criminals breaking the laws and therefore the social contract, and upholding/maintaining the guarentees that the social contract ensures individuals. It is therefore true that police officers in the United State's goals are, broadly, to uphold the societal contract, which includes but is not limited to: guarenteeing constitutional rights to every citizen, apprehending those who abuse the law, etc.. 

It is true that I have gone on about the societal contract as the very thing that the police are trying to uphold, but I have yet to specifically identify what that is - the foundation for the principles of the United States Police comes from the U.S Constution [2] [3pg10], and the US Legal Code [4]. Therefore, if any specific code of the police goes against the foundational text it is intrinsically not preferred compared to a code that adheres to the foundations of its goals. 

Recalling the former citation - [1] - we can bring our attention to the standards - multiple which there are - that the police hold themselves to:
"(a) Since police, as an agency of the criminal justice system, have a major responsibility for dealing with serious crime, efforts should continually be made to improve the capacity of police to discharge this responsibility effectively. It should also be recognized, however, that police effectiveness in dealing with crime is often largely dependent upon .the effectiveness of other agencies both within and outside the criminal justice system. Those in the system must work together through liaison, cooperation, and constructive joint effort. This effort is vital to the effective operation of the police and the entire criminal justice system

(b) To achieve optimum police effectiveness, the police should be recognized as having complex and multiple tasks to perform in addition to identifying and apprehending persons committing serious criminal offenses. Such other police tasks include protection of certain rights such as to speak and to assemble, participation either directly or in conjunction with other public and social agencies in the prevention of criminal and delinquent behavior, maintenance of order and control of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, resolution of conflict, and assistance to citizens in need of help such as a disabled person.

(c) Recommendations made in these standards are based on the view that this diversity of responsibility is likely to continue and, more importantly, that police authority and skills are needed to handle appropriately a wide variety of community problems."
The standards can be summarily broken down into the following:
  1. Effectively discharging responsibility in order to deal with crime
  2. Protecting the citizens of the U.S and their rights 
  3. Assisting Citizens in daily life, such that is more than protection

  • 2A - Current state of militarization of the police
  • 2B - How 2A interacts with the priorities of the police
Voters, recall the definition provided in DEFINE. for the "militarization of the police": "The militarization of police is the use of military equipment and tactics by law enforcement officers. This includes the use of armored personnel carriers, assault rifles, submachine guns, flashbang grenades, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, and Special Weapons and Tactics teams." Please bring your attention specifically to the second sentence in the definition, it is underlined for easier comprehension - it includes some of the equipment allowed into the police, though a further investigation is required - these are considered military - when are they are authorized for use by the military?

The most basic of infantrymen AIT (Advanced training) which proceeds basic training is a 4 week training course drilling in how to use firearms in general [5], which only occurs after a 13 hour-10 week basic training [6]  - that settles at around a 1240 hour training in order to be one of the most basic fighters in the military. In order to operate field artiliery, you must undergo an AIT that is 10 weeks long at the same hour-load [7]. In contrast the average police adaemy dedicates only 168 hours to firearm training [8]. This means that the average infrantry men recieves about 2 times more instruction than police officers do on the subject, and field artilir such as submachine guns or grenade launchers require 5 times as much.

That is to say that Police Officers recieve relatively little training to use military equipment compared to the people who primarily train - they are also specialized in training as opposed to the Police's style, and about 1/5 police Academies don't even attempt to emulate a military model of training, and yet they reccieve military equipment same as any other department [8]. This is not even considering the tactical use of military equipment on unarmed civilians - which is considered unethical and unconstitutional [9]:
"Both the Constitution and international law prohibit the use of lethal force against civilians outside of armed conflict except in very narrow circumstances: as a last resort to prevent an imminent attack that is likely to cause death or serious physical injury."
Therefore wide military tactical use against civilians is inherently against the foundation and standards of the U.S Constitution, which is the foundation of the U.S Police's priorities, therefore the use of militar equipment and tactical use ought to be removed from police reportoire against civilians. This would be reducing the militarization of the Police, well within my BoP, recall OBSERVATIONS. "As explained in INT. T. RES. above arguing that the militarization of the police should be reduced or removed are both valid ways to fulfill my burden of proof"

"My opponent would have us demilitarize the police so they use the tactics and weapons that led to the tragedies in Columbine and North Hollywood, and leave us defenseless against the next terrorist that decides to do a Las Vegas style or Pulse nightclub style shooting. "
This is the central argument made by my opponent, but this fails to consider the unconstitutional effects of military tactics on civilians, but also that this has no actual deterence against such occurences [10]:
"However, when looking at military-grade weapons specifically, the same study found that receipt of these weapons had minimal or no deterrent impact on crime. Multiple studies have confirmed concerns about the militarization of police, showing that it results in law enforcement using higher levels of force against citizens."
Con provides only two instances of such shooter events, ignoring the fact that there are dedicated non-police active shooter response team, that are specifically trained to deal with the situation [11], which the Police can call for emergency back up at any time. Furthermore, reducing the militarization of the police would not inhibit them from using such force in times of emergency - therefore this argument which already lack impact (as only two examples are cited against a foundation breach of what police should do) does not even effect my BoP. 

Con provides a history of the police and an argument that emergency shooter situations require police intervention, but fails to account that the opposing resolution does not mean complete anihiliation of the miliatary equipment, nor the fact of other agencies dealing with the situation - furthermore - Con has not yet spoken on the foundational error in using military tactics on civilians which are unarmed, civilians which they are actually charged to protect (Recall - ARG IA), therefore Con has not fulfilled his B.O.P in the slightest, whereas I have.

Round 2
As my opponent has had their account banned, I will simply extend my argument
Round 3
My opponent has failed to respond - I extend my argument
Round 4
My opponent has failed to comment past the first round, and therefore entirely forfeited the debate round - furthermore - my argument stands strong, extend:
  • The Standards of Police 
  • The Ethics of Militarization
  • The Frequency of Emergency

Vote Pro