Radley Balko has written a brilliant, powerful book Rise of the Warrior Cop, documenting the terrifying militarization of America's police forces.
This is the first half of the transcript of my interview with Radley Balko, author of Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. It's an eye-opener.
Rob Kall: Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show on the NJC1360 AM, out of Washington Township reaching metro Philly and South Jersey sponsored by, Opednews.com. That's progressive news and opinion, just Google progressive opinion and Oped news comes up at the top. Check us out. My guest tonight is Radley Balko, he's the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. He's a senior writer and investigative reporter for the Huffington Post, where he covers civil liberties and the criminal justice system. Radley, welcome to the show.
Radley Balko: Thanks for having me on, glad to be here.
Rob Kall: So, you've got a really powerful book here, with statistics and stories that are frightening. They're terrifying really. Let's start by you telling a story that exemplifies what this book is all about.
Radley Balko: Sure, I'm actually going to take a story that's not in the book, that didn't make the final edit, but that I do think is, is emblematic of all of the problems that I, that I outline in the book.
This is a story about Katherine Johnson, who is a ninety two year old woman, who lived in a bad neighborhood in Atlanta. And this all started right around Thanksgiving in the year 2006. There was an Atlanta narcotics team out, on patrol, or sort of driving around. And they saw a guy walking alongside the road that they'd arrested before on various charges, knew he had a record. So they jump out on this guy, they throw him to the ground. We found out later that they had, ended up actually planting a bag of marijuana on him. He knew he had a record, they knew he had a record, so they tell him they'll let him go if he can tell them where they can find a large supply of drugs. So he basically just makes up an address in the neighborhood. And that address happened to be the address of Katherine Johnson.
Now what's supposed to happen at this point, is the police are supposed to get a confidential informant to go do what they call a controlled drug find. The informant will wear a wire, and they give him a bunch of marked bills, and he's supposed to go to this house, buy some drugs, and at that point they apply for a search warrant.
They didn't do that. Instead, I should add I guess, that that, that process would take a day and a half, two days. But they wanted to get there quicker. So they lied, they lied on the affidavit, they claimed that they had made a controlled buy with an informant when they actually hadn't. And instead of waiting a couple days, they got their warrant signed within a few hours.
So later that evening they start trying to break in to this woman's home. As I said this was a bad neighborhood, so had put bars on her doors, so it took them awhile to get in. by the time they got in she was standing in the living room, holding a rusty revolver that she kept by her bed to scare people off. The gun actually didn't work, she just waved it at people, when she wanted them, when she was frightened.
The police break down the door, she's standing there, they open fire, they kill her. They initially claim that she fired first, we now know that wasn't true because the gun wasn't functional. And two officers were wounded by, gun fire from other officers. They called ambulances to come and treat those officers. They did not call an ambulance to come and treat Katherine Johnson. Instead they let her, handcuffed her, and let her bleed to death on her living room floor, while one of the officers went down to the basement to plant some marijuana. To make her look like the drug dealer that they claimed she was.
Of course now they have a problem, they have to find an informant who will lie, and say that he was the informant named in the search warrant. So they go after this guy that they had used in the past, they put him in a police car. Informants are pretty shady people most of the time, they tend to be addicts or rival drug dealers. To this guy credit, to this guy's credit, he wouldn't play along. He, there's actually this remarkable phone call that he made from the back of an APD cruiser, where he calls 911, immediately asks to speak to the FBI. Which you can't do through 911. But he says, you know, "They're trying to make me say that I helped kill that old lady, and, and I don't want any part of it".
At this point, he jumps out of the car and starts to flee. The officers chase him. And there's actually a foot chase through downtown Atlanta. Through, you know, a hotel lobby or two, businesses. Finally this guy finds a phone, he was working with the ATF at the same time. Calls his ATF agent who swoops in and picks him up and puts him up at a hotel out in the suburbs.
At this point they open up a federal investigation. And what the federal investigation found was that this was rampant in the Atlanta Narcotics Unit, of the Atlanta Police Department. That there was lots of lying on search warrants, that there were lots of raids on the wrong houses. A, the Atlanta City Council later held hearings, and dozens of people came forward to say that, "Yeah this has happened to me too". In fact they had raided another woman who was on the same block, who was in her eighties, who also kept a gun by her bed to scare people off. They managed to hold their fire in that case.
But what the federal investigation found was that, that these narcotic officers had quotas. They had to arrest so many people each month, they had to seize a minimum quantity of drugs each month. And, you know, what we now know, what's pretty obvious now, is that those quota's came because, like every other police department in the country, the Atlanta Police Department was competing for a limited amount of federal resources that go towards anti-drug policing.
So, the police department is facing pressure to enhance revenue by getting its hands on this federal funding. It passes the pressures then on to the police officers, whose careers are, job evaluations and promotions and careers depend on meeting this quotas, or exceeding them. And so all of this was basically resulted, resulting in these mass constitutional violations.
The entire narcotics units was in a pinch, they were fired or replaced, or transferred to another department and replaced. And there were some promises for reform, though most of them didn't pan out.
Now you could argue that, you know, Atlanta was the only police department in the country where this was going on. And they just happened to be the only one that got, the one who got caught. But you know these federal incentives are for every police department in the country. And, you know they, people tend to respond to incentives in the same way. But I, you know, I would guess that this is happening in far more police departments than just in Atlanta. In fact we have other cases studies showing that it has.
But this is, you know this case really touches on a lot of the themes in the book. Which is that we've got, federal government interfering in local police work, warping the priorities of police department, giving them incentive to devote more resources to consensual crimes, drug crimes, than, you know, going after rapists and murderers and burglars.
And then you've got, you know, all of this equipment that the Pentagon and DHS are giving these departments that they then need to call in SWAT teams. A SWAT teams pretty expensive to maintain, so you send them out on drug raids, because that brings, again, the promise of, or federal grants and also assets forfeiture, which allows a police department to keep the proceeds of any drug dealers that they bust, or any drug offenders at all that they bust.
So that case really kind of embodies a lot of the theme in the book. And unfortunately, you know, in the fact that there was, you know, a lot of publicity around this case and a lot of outrage, and a lot of promises for reform. And then nothing substantive happening because of it. That is also, unfortunately, emblematic of, you know, what's, what's basically happened in this trend in the last generation or so.
Rob Kall: Why didn't that story make it in the book?
Radley Balko: Well because there were a lot of others that are even more outrageous. And, you know, there's only so much room for so many case studies.
Rob Kall: Right. So, the police lied repeatedly, and in this case they all got fired. I'm guessing that's not the norm?
Radley Balko: No, and actually in this case, the individual officers who conducted the raid, were actually criminally prosecuted, and a couple of them actually did prison time. Not as, not as much as anyone else would get if they murdered a ninety two year old woman. But they did do some time. And that, that's extremely rare. But yeah most of the time, you know, the police department, if a police officer makes any mistake or is negligent in one of his raids, they're almost always given the benefit of the doubt. They're, you know, criminal charges are vanishingly rare, and it's, you know, it's also extremely rare for people who are the victims of these raids to get any sort of compensation in court.
Rob Kall: You know, you mentioned in your book that there are about a hundred SWAT team raids a day that happen in the United States. Which works out to close to forty thousand a year, that's insane. I mean it's, it's terrifying really.
Radley Balko: Yeah, and actually the numbers, as of 2005 it was fifty thousand per year, and that's the last year that this particular criminologist did his survey. But, you know, all the trends that were driving the number, that drove the number up to fifty thousand have continued. So it's, it's likely that the number is even higher now. But yeah, its somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and fifty times a day in this country, you have police officers, you know dressed and armed like soldiers, breaking into private homes. And the vast majority of the time it's to serve warrants on people who are suspected of consensual non violent drug crimes.
Rob Kall: So it could be a hundred thousand a year? Something, those, by now?
Radley Balko: Well I mean at this point we're just kind of speculating. But you know it was up to fifty thousand by 2005, and, you know, we're eight years out from that. And, you know if anything, the Obama administration has actually increased the funding to all these federal grant programs, and DHS has continued to give out its grants to buy the military equipment. In fact the Pentagon program, the surplus program, where the Pentagon gives away surplus military equipment to police departments which has been going on for thirty years. But actually in 2011, the program set its all time record, it gave away over five hundred million dollars worth of equipment. So, you know, all the trends that have been driving, that drove us up to fifty thousand have continued.
Rob Kall: Over five hundred million dollars, and when was this? Last year? Or 2011?
Radley Balko: It was in 2011. Last year, I haven't seen the numbers yet for last year. Last year the program was actually suspended briefly for a couple of months, because you know, officials learned that some police departments were actually selling this equipment to private parties.
I think a sheriff in Tempe, Arizona, was caught selling some of his military gear that he had, that he had obtained through the Pentagon.
Rob Kall: Wow. So, this is frightening. Now in, in your book you you basically describe how the militarization of America's police forces, there's a kind of centralization where the Feds and federal policy, is, is an attempt at getting federal policies into more local state situations. Could you talk about that?
Radley Balko: Sure. Well I mean policing has always been, a local issue, I mean the federal government up until the Nixon administration at least tended, tended to stay out of criminal justice. With the exception of you know, the few federal crimes that there were up until, I dunno the 60s or the 70s, the numbers have exploded since then. But yeah for the most part if it wasn't a kidnapping or some sort of a, you know, a bank robbery, postal fraud situation. Crime was a local issue.
The Nixon administration really, really started to ramp up federal funding to local police departments. And the idea is you start opening up this spigot of money, and then you can threaten to cut off the money if the departments don't adopt whatever policies the White House is pushing. And that's a way of, you know, having an influence on criminal justice policies without, you know, pushing mandates that may be found unconstitutional.
So the Nixon administration really started this policy. Reagan, the Reagan administration just built off of that. And then, you know, it continued with Bush, Clinton, Bush, and now to Obama. And, you know, the thing to understand about this is that the federal, I mean it's completely warped the priorities of police departments. It makes drug policing a much higher priority than it otherwise would be. And even when they're, I mean even when these grants are well intentioned, they usually don't have the affect that the politicians, you know, want them to have.
And a good example is the Cops Program, which was started in the Clinton administration, and has been a favorite of Vice President Biden. Going back to his days in the Senate, where he claimed credit for creating it. And the Cops Program was a way of, the federal government thought it would encourage community policing, it was giving grants to police departments around the country to hire officers to engage in community policing. Now community policing as it's conventionally understand is a less aggressive, less reactionary type of policing. The idea is that cops should get out of their cars, they should walk beats, they should, you know, know the names of principals of the schools in their neighborhood, they should know the names of business owners, they should go to neighborhood meetings. And it's this idea that the cops should have a stake in the community that they serve. And it, it fosters better relationships, and better communication, and better cooperation between, you know the police and the community. And if, you know, from a community standpoint it looks like the cop is one of them, so when it does come time to use force, the community seems to believe that, you know, the office is protecting them and not this sort of person from the outside who's come in to, you know, harm them, or to impose his will on them.
The problem is, though again, is that when these grants went out there was no, there were no restrictions, there was no oversight. And a lot of police chiefs, and sheriffs across the country, actually think that, *chuckle* reactionary SWAT like units and SWAT like policing, is a form of community policing. And so these grants were going to start SWAT teams in a lot of places.
But a couple studies on this. And you know, oddly enough the Bush administration was phasing these grants out, both these grants the Cops Grant and the Burn Grant. You know, I don't, I don't think they were necessarily opposed to police militarization. I think it was more a matter of cutting, you know a federal program. But then the Obama administration came in and, you know, again refunded both programs at record rates. Gave them the biggest budget they ever had.
Rob Kall: Wait, wait, wait. Let me just get that straight. You're saying that the Obama administration funded the militarization of police at higher levels than the previous Republican administrations?
Radley Balko: Not only that, the highest levels ever. Yeah.
Rob Kall: Kind of like what they're doing with whistle blowers, where there's more prosecution with whistle blowers, that's a whole nother issue.
Radley Balko: Right. And you know, I'm sure the Obama people would say that they're not funding police militarization. That they're funding, you know, community policing and supplementing cash strapped police departments to help protect our communities, or whatever. But, you know, the reality is this is how the money gets spent, it gets spent on to beef up, you know military like equipment, military battle grade weapons, you know, to buy armored personnel carriers and tanks and helicopters. I mean that's how the money is getting spent.
And the problem is again, with these community policing grants in particular, I think that Biden, you know Vice President Biden probably has one thing in mind when he endorses this program. But there's no oversight and there's no restriction, so the money gets spend in a way that's very contradictory to that vision.
Rob Kall: Wow, so did, did, the basic idea of community policing is a very bottom up approach that's aimed at integrating police into the community in an old fashioned way really. The way it used to be fifty, a hundred years ago, right?
Radley Balko: Kind of, I mean, it's, it's an aspiration to a form of policing that I think, you know, we should adopt. I don't know that, I think it's a bit idealic (sic) to say that there was a time when community policing, this type of community policing actually existed. I'm not sure that's true. There was, there was a time when police did walk beats and were much more closely tied to the neighborhoods that they patrolled, the problem is that, that's also known as the patronage era. And that was at a time when police, the job of police officer was actually an appointed position, a political boss appointed you to the job. And so was a very political position, and there was a lot of corruption, and it was still you know a lot of police abuse. So I don't think there was ever a, ya know, kind of halcyon young days of community policing. I'm not saying it's not something that we should strive for, because you know it's been tried, it's been successful. But yeah I would caution against kind of harping back to a better era, cause I'm not sure there really was one.
Rob Kall: Okay, well let's take a station ID, and then we'll get back to the history of policing. This is Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show NJ1360AM, out of Washington Township reaching metro Philly and south Jersey sponsored by Oped news.com. A website where police get a lot of criticism for when they do the wrong things, and I'm speaking with Radley Balko, the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of Americas Police Forces .You make it really clear in the book that you're not criticizing police overall, but that there are good cops and there are bad cops. And actually what you say is it's not so much the cops that are the problem, it's the politics that are the problem. Maybe before we get into the history you can talk about that.
Radley Balko: Yeah, I mean you know, obviously there are bad cops, there are rogue cops, and they deserve to be criticized and they should be help accountable. But the point I'm trying to make with the book is, you know, we got to where we are because of bad policies that were pushed and passed by public officials. And that's really where we need to focus, you know, the blame and the efforts at reform. Because you know you can, you can fill police departments with, you know, the most conscientious well intended police officers in the country. But if it's a bad system that's loaded with bad incentives, the good cops are either going to leave in frustration, or they're going to turn bad, or they're just going to be miserable at their jobs.
So this is a policy issue. We have, you know, police departments that are recruiting the wrong types of people. If you look at, you can go to You tube and type in police recruitment video, and you'll see the video the police department sent out to the, you know, colleges and high schools to recruit new officers. And not all of them, but a disturbingly high percentage of the videos emphasize the wrong aspect of policing, and they emphasize kind of the kicking ass and taking names side of the job. The images of cops, you know, tackling people, and shooting at people, and sicking dogs, and you know rappelling out of helicopters.
And if you know, you think back to your high school or college days and you think who amongst your classmates would be attracted to a job that involves those types of actions, and then ask yourself if you would want to live in a community where those people were police officers. You can see that, the problem here that the very first step in the process is they're appealing to people who, would want the job for all the wrong reasons.
So again, this is, you know, I think that the, the accountability and the blame needs to be put with public officials. And we need to pressure public officials to hold police departments accountable and to make sure that bad police officers are disciplined, and you know, when necessary removed from the job. And that's not happening either.
Rob Kall: Yeah, how is that going? Holding police accountable?
Radley Balko: It's, it doesn't happen very often, and there are a few reasons for it. I mean one is this, the blue code of silence that the, the police culture has cultivated over the years. Which is you know, really powerful. I mean police officers do not report other police officers, they don't testify against other police officers. And when they do they tend not to remain police officers for very long afterward.
But you know I think that part of the problem is with the police unions, which, you know for whatever reason they were originally formed, which may have been perfectly legitimate, have come to, you know, both enforce this, this blue code of silence, being basically the enforcement mechanism. But also basically negotiating contracts with politicians that, again, make it almost impossible to fire bad police officers. Even the rare instance where you can fire one, you know, there's no, there's no stigma attached to them so they can just move to another part of the state or another part of the country and get another job in law enforcement.
And you know, just, when politicians and city officials negotiate with police unions, you know the one thing that they can't always give in on is budget, right? You know, you only have so many dollars to spend. And so what they do is they tend to make up for, you know, any, budgetary concessions that the union has to make by removing accountability, and making it, you know giving police officers more job security. And that means giving bad police officers more job security as well.
I mean there are states, lots of them, I think, I can't remember the exact number in the book, but I want to say half or more of the states have a policy called, well it's called various things, but it's usually something like The Police Officers Bill of Rights. These are a set of, of rights that state legislatures have given the police officers that regular citizens don't get. The things like, you know, police officers at some places, may have an attorney with them if they're ever called before a grand jury, which citizens can't. Police officers get a cooling off period, even after they've done something that might be criminal, they get three or four days so that they can get their story together, and get with other officers and collaborate on what the story actually is. (chuckle)
Now in theory, these Police Officer Bill of Rights only apply to, internal investigations. So investigations of professional wrong doing, and not criminal wrong doing. But the problem is, you know, any time a police officer is accused of doing something wrong, it starts with the internal investigation, the criminal investigation usually comes later. So it, you know, these Bills of Rights for police officers basically are an added form of protection for police officers that are accused of criminal wrong doing.
Now you could, you know, you could argue that, that the cops should be held to a higher standard than everyone else. You can argue that they should be held to the same standard, I think there are good arguments for both. I think it's much more difficult to make the argument that cops should be held to a lower standard than everyone else, and that's, you know that's what these Police Officers Bills of Rights actually do.
Rob Kall: So let me just kind of summarize what you said, the police unions, enforce the code of silence, and they make it impossible to fire bad police officers. Which is kind of like the same with teacher unions in some ways.
Radley Balko: I think the similarities are striking, yeah.
Rob Kall: And that Police Officer Bill of Rights are giving, and partly because it's easier for cities and states to negotiate and give extra rights to police men than it is to, because, and they give that because they can't give money sometimes. So it's a negotiating chip, that they've, the police have basically bought by taking less pay in some ways.
Radley Balko: Yeah, less pay, less time, ya know, less cuts in benefits when necessary. That sort of thing.
Rob Kall: Okay. It's scary, it's all scary now. You, you, you talk in your book about a case that's an example of this, Costallis was it? Was it in Mexico, or Arizona?
Radley Balko: Yeah, that's right. Yeah. But this officer Costallis was, and I don't have the book in front of me so I might get a couple of the details wrong, but you'll get the general idea. But he was an officer with a New Mexico sheriffs department, or no, I think it was a city, Albuquerque City, I think it was the city police. And this case actually involved the race car driver Al, Al Unser and, I guess there was a blockade in the neighborhood, cause I think there was an escaped felon I think they were looking for. In any case, Unser was trying to return to his house, and he was stopped at this road block. And, you know, what happened next is, is this dispute but it basically ended up with Unser being arrested and charged with various, you know, assaulting a police officer charges.
Now Costallis was one of the officers on the scene, he was not part of the department that got into the altercation with Unser, which I believe was the sheriffs department. Costallis ended up testifying for Unser at the criminal trial, Unsers defense, Unser ended up getting acquitted. The police union responded by, this was, this was Officer Costallis' own police union, right, the head of the union writes a letter to the sheriff apologizing for Costallis' behavior, and says, you know, "We would never disrespect," I can't remember the exact wording but something, "We would never dare disrespect our fellow brothers in blue," or something to that effect.
Costallis ended up being the only police officer who gets disciplined in all of this. And in fact he was getting disciplined because he wore his uniform on the day he testified, and I guess according to department regulations you're only allowed to wear your uniform when you're testifying for the prosecution not for the defense! Which is, you know, a rule that revealed a lot in and of itself.
Rob Kall: Unbelievable.
Radley Balko: And Costallis ended up suing, and you know winning a nice settlement out of the matter. But I mean I think the, the, the takeaway from this, is that here you have a guy who was under fire for doing the right thing. And his own union turns against him instead of defending him. Which you know you think the unions job is, is to defend a member of, a member who is getting accused of, especially wrongly accused of doing something wrong. And instead they turn on him because he was a threat to, you know, this police code of silence, kind of shared understanding.
Rob Kall: Okay, so he sued his own police department. Now what about lawsuits? I mean with all of these abuses, what's the story with civil litigation against police departments and the cities that employ them?
Radley Balko: It's, it's really difficult to win a lawsuit against a police officer or police department. Police officers have, what's call qualified immunity, which means not only do you have to show that a police officer intentionally violated your civil rights, and it has to be intentional, negligence isn't enough, but you also have to show that the right that the officer violated are well established rights.
And so to give you a good example of, you know, how that can play out, there's this issue of citizens who are getting arrested for recording police officers with their cell phones right?
Rob Kall: That was my next question.
Radley Balko: Yeah. So in every state in the country this is perfectly legal. Illinois was the last state that had a law that made it illegal, and that law was struck down by a federal appeals court. So in every country, in every state in the country it is recording on duty police officers is protected, it's protected by the first amendment. Now you can't physically interfere with what they're doing, but if you're at a safe distance you are allowed to record them.
Yet people get arrested for this all the time, police officers don't like being recorded. As, you know, I'm sure most of us would not want to be recorded while doing their jobs, but you know police officers have responsibilities and powers that other people don't have. And I think it's healthy for citizens to, to record them and try to keep them accountable while they're on the job.
But people still get arrested for it all the time. And lawsuits inevitably get thrown out because this is not a well established right. The courts have found that this is a relatively new phenomenon, people having these phones, and so police officers continue to make these illegal arrests. You know, the charges eventually get dropped, but not until you spend a night in jail and you've had your phone confiscated, and you know you've basically had your life turned upside down for awhile.
So here's an example where, you know, the police are doing something illegal. They're you know, illegal arresting, illegally arresting people and there's really not much you can do about it. And they're rarely held accountable for it. And you know if you think about qualified immunity in an issue like this, recording police officers, is actually an incentive for police departments to not tell their officers what the law actually is, right? Because as soon as the police department acknowledges that this is a first amendment right, now it is an established right, so now if it's officers, or if its officers does arrest someone now you're open to a lawsuit.
There's actually an incentive to police officers ignorance to what the latest, you know, development to constitutional law are. And, you know, again it's another example of a twisted incentive that produces awful results.
So it is, yeah, it's very difficult. Now what, in any case, you know, you can, you can win in court? What usually ends up happening is, if it's a very publicized case, the city will feel some pressure, the city, the county wherever it is, will feel some pressure to settle. And you know people, someone will get a settlement out of it. But that's only if you can get, you know, the media to take interest in your case then get some publicity for it, start generating some public pressure. But you know there's certain day to day violations, it's almost impossible to win, to win a lawsuit.
Rob Kall: Yeah, okay, so I've got such a long list of things to discuss with you yet, I want to move on but that's very good. Thank you for that discussion about that. That's scary because I really thought there was a lot more progress than that, and at least we now know that in every state in the union it's legal to take photos or video of police while they're engaged in their job as long as you don't interfere with what they're doing. Which is pretty much what you just said, right?
Radley Balko: Yeah, I think it's important to get that, to get that message out. I mean I think that's something we all need to know and that we need to make sure police departments are aware of as well.
Rob Kall: You know, I'll just throw one more thing in about it. As I was reading your book I was thinking about Google glasses, you know you basically wear it and it records everything you're seeing and doing. It made me think that every police man should have something like that and wear it continually while they're on the job, or at least out in the public, because then we'd have a complete record.
Radley Balko: I absolutely agree. I mean the argument, the argument from the law and order types, if you have nothing wrong, if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear. Which from the citizens viewpoint is a kind of a twisted interpretation of the fourth amendment, but from police officers standpoint, I mean this is somebody who gets paid by the public to protect the public, who has you know some pretty awesome powers, to detain people, to use legal force. And you know what I've talked about this recording issue, I've had police officers call into radio shows and say, "Hey, you know, I'm all for this, I think, you know we should be recorded all the time. I'm not doing anything wrong, and if anything it's going to protect me if somebody falsely accuses me of something". And I think that's, you know, that's that is the healthy attitude I think to take towards it. You know it's inevitable.
I meant, and I guess I would also actually argue, I mean the book is fairly cynical, and fairly pessimistic. But if there is one thing to sort of grab on to, if you're looking for something to be optimistic about, its that personal technology has been, there's nothing like it in the history of mankind I would say. In the history of government particularly. This idea that everybody has a cell phone in their pocket, you know there was a sense by Politano formerly at Fox News, that said that the cell phone is the new gun. I mean this is extremely powerful. And we've seen this with all of the police abuse videos that we see online that contradict police reports, and have forced some police departments to take action when they otherwise wouldn't have. But I mean, even ya know, during the Arab spring, for the first time ever we saw images, real time images and video of brutal totalitarian crack downs of people who are, you know, protesting for democracy and for basic civil liberties.
I mean this is, this is enormously powerful. And you know I think that we need to make sure that it is protected. And you know there's some talk about technology that would block out cell phones in a certain radius. So we need to make sure that that sort of thing doesn't happen. Just right now, I mean the ability to take videos, to instantly stream them to off-site servers, so that even when they're deleted from the phone they still exist somewhere. I mean this is one of, the, the most powerful weapons against government abuse, I think, that we have ever seen. I think its something to, to, you know, be hopeful about.
Rob Kall: Cool. So I just want to be clear, you, you say right at the very beginning of the book that it's the drug war that has most, mostly funded and fueled police militarization. Can you talk about that?