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Riots

Leonid Bershidsky: Militarized police don't stop riots

As the Governor of Missouri calls out the National Guard to finish what Ferguson's armed-for-combat police started, it's hard not to question the efficiency, or even intelligence, of this kind of paramilitary policing. The line that divides police and military work can be traced back to the Sir Robert Peel's Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, which set up a new paid constabulary for London. Its first commissioners set up a benign, unarmed police service designed to prevent crime rather than suppress it. That notion was replicated, with varying success, for white settlers in the British colonies. At the same time, the British Empire used a different policing style for its...

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