Since the Los Angeles Police Department created the very first SWAT team in the 1960s, there has been a sharp uptick in the number of these units in both civilian police forces and within government agencies. (Even NASA has one.) Radley Balko, a reporter at The Washington Post, documents the trend and its consequences in his 2013 book “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces.” Balko follows the growth of police paramilitary units from its early days, as they became more common components of big city police departments, to when they eventually were adopted by small towns, as well.
Check out the timeline below to find out the course of events that propelled this militarization. And don't forget to tune into Al Jazeera America on Friday, February 28th, at 9:30p EST, for our new Fault Lines episode “Deadly Force: Arming America's Police."