Following World War II, in the midst of global decolonization and intensifying freedom struggles within its borders, the United States developed a worldwide police assistance program that aimed to crush left radicalism and extend its racial imperium. Although policing had long been part of the US colonial project, this new roving cadre of advisors funded, supplied, and trained foreign counterinsurgency forces on an unprecedented scale, developing a global cop-consciousness that spanned from Los Angeles to Saigon. In Badges Without Borders: How Global Counterinsurgency Transformed American Policing
(University of California Press, 2019), Stuart Schrader
makes the compelling case that the growth of carceral state is just one front of a “discretionary empire” that persists today.
Badges Without Borders
traces the tangled routes of police bureaucrats as they brought their munitions, methods, and money to precincts at home and abroad, and obviates the divide between “foreign” and “domestic” policy. Ultimately, Schrader suggests that US global power has relied on police reform to endlessly reproduce an ideology of “security.”
Patrick Reilly is a PhD student in US History at Vanderbilt University. He studies police, community organizations, and urban development.