Critical Criminology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 29–48 | Cite as

The Expansion and Normalization of Police Militarization in Canada

Article

Abstract

Despite extensive analysis of police militarization in the United States (US), the case in Canada has been overlooked. Building on Kraska’s (in Policing 1(4):501–513, 2007) framework of police militarization indicators, this paper examines militarization within Canadian police forces between 2007 and 2016. Drawing from data on deployments disclosed under freedom of information law, our research shows deployment of special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams have escalated in many major Canadian cities and are even higher in some cases than those reported by Kraska on militarization of US public police. We show how SWAT teams are increasingly used by public police for routine police activities such as warrant work, traffic enforcement, community policing, and even responding to mental health crises and domestic disturbances. We also analyze data on SWAT team growth, and benchmarking between police service SWAT units. We conclude by reflecting on the implications for public policing in Canada and avenues for future research on police militarization and police violence in Canada and other countries.

References

  1. Alvaro, S. (2000). Tactical law enforcement in Canada: An exploratory survey of canadian police agencies. MA Thesis. Ottawa: Carleton University.Google Scholar
  2. Brownlee, J., & Walby, K. (Eds.). (2015). Access to information and social justice. In Access to information and social justice: Critical research strategies for journalists, scholars and activists (pp. 1–20). Winnipeg: Arbeiter Ring Publishing (ARP) Books.Google Scholar
  3. Burczycka, M. (2013). Police Resources in Canada, 2012. Report 85-225-X. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.Google Scholar
  4. Calgary Police Service. (n.d.). About our Tactical Unit. Retrieved January 8, 2017, from http://www.calgary.ca/cps/Pages/Specialty-teams/About-our-Tactical-Unit.aspx.
  5. Carmichael, J. T., & Kent, S. L. (2015). Structural determinants of municipal police force size in large cities across Canada assessing the applicability of ethnic threat theories in the Canadian Context. International Criminal Justice Review, 25(3), 263–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. CBC News. (2008). Winnipeg police launch full-time SWAT-type unit. CBC News, Manitoba. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-police-launch-full-time-swat-type-unit-1.725400.
  7. Chappell, A. T., & Lanza-Kaduce, L. (2010). Police academy socialization: Understanding the lessons learned in a paramilitary bureaucratic organization. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 39(2), 187–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cotter, A. (2015). Canada’s crime rate: Two decades of decline. Canadian Megatrends. No. 2015001. January. Statistics Canada Catalogue No. 11-630-X. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2015001-eng.htm (accessed Jan. 10, 2017).
  9. De Lint, W. (2005). Public order policing: A tough act to follow? International Journal of the Sociology of Law, 33(4), 179–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Den Heyer, G. (2014). Mayberry revisited: A review of the influence of police paramilitary units on policing. Policing and Society, 24(3), 346–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Delehanty, C., Mewwhirther, J., Welch, R., & Wilks, J. (2017). Militarization and police violence: The case of the 1033 program. Research and Politics, 4(2), 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dodge, M., Valcore, L., & Klinger, D. (2010). Maintaining separate spheres in policing: Women on SWAT teams. Women & Criminal Justice, 20(3), 218–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dunton, C., & Kitchen, V. (2014). Paradiplomatic policing and relocating Canadian foreign policy. International Journal, 69(2), 183–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gamal, F. (2016). The racial politics of protection: A critical race examination of police militarization. California Law Review, 104, 979–1008.Google Scholar
  15. Goodmark, L. (2015). Hands up at home: Militarized masculinity and police officers who commit intimate partner abuse. Brigham Young University Law Review, 5, 1181–1246.Google Scholar
  16. Griffiths, C. T., & Pollard, N. (2013). Policing in Winnipeg: An operational review. Retrieved from http://curtgriffiths.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/WPS-operational-review.pdf.
  17. Hill, S., & Beger, R. (2009). A paramilitary policing juggernaut. Social Justice, 36(1), 25–40.Google Scholar
  18. Hill, S. M., Beger, R. R., & Zanettii, J. M., II. (2007). Plugging the security gap or springing a leak: Questioning the growth of paramilitary policing in US domestic and foreign policy. Democracy and Security, 3(3), 301–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hills, A. (1995). Militant Tendencies: Paramilitarism in the British Police. British Journal of Criminology, 35(3), 450–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jacobs, D. (1998). The determinants of deadly force: A structural analysis of police violence. American Journal of Sociology, 103(4), 837–862.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. King, M. (1997). Policing and public order issues in Canada: Trends for change. Policing and Society, 8(1), 47–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kitchen, V., & Rygiel, K. (2014). Privatizing security, securitizing policing: The case of the G20 in Toronto, Canada. International Political Sociology, 8(2), 201–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kraska, P. B. (2007). Militarization and policing—Its relevance to 21st century police. Policing, 1(4), 501–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kraska, P. B., & Cubellis, L. J. (1997). Militarizing Mayberry and beyond: Making sense of American paramilitary policing. Justice Quarterly, 14(4), 607–629.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kraska, P. B., & Kapperler, V. E. (1997). Militarizing American police: The rise and normalization of paramilitary units. Social Problems, 44(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Leichtman, E. (2008). Complex harmony: The military and professional models of policing. Critical Criminology, 16(1), 53–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Levasseur, J., & Nicholson, K. (2017). 1 in 7 Manitoba search warrants in study has serious flaws. CBC News, Manitoba. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/search-warrants-manitoba-1.4284574.
  28. Luscombe, A., & Walby, K. (2015). High policing and access to information. Police Practice and Research, 16(6), 485–498.Google Scholar
  29. Matrix Consulting Group. (2013). Operational review of the police service. Retrieved from http://www.winnipeg.ca/cao/media/imageLinks/OperationalReview_WPSFinalReport.pdf.
  30. McCulloch, J. (2001). Blue army: Paramilitary policing in Australia. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.Google Scholar
  31. McMichael, C. (2017). Pacification and police: A critique of the police militarization thesis. Capital & Class, 41(1), 115–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McQuoid, A. and J. Haynes. (2017). The Thin (Red) Blue Line: Police Militarization and Violent Crime. United States Naval Academy Department of Economics Working Paper 2017-56.Google Scholar
  33. Meyer, J., & O’Malley, P. (2005). Missing the punitive turn? Canadian criminal justice, ‘Balance’ and penal modernism. In J. Pratt, D. Brown, M. Brown, S. Halsworth, & W. Morrison (Eds.), The new punitiveness: Trends, theories and perspectives (pp. 201–217). Willan: UK.Google Scholar
  34. Murray, J. (2005). Policing terrorism: A threat to community policing or just a shift in priorities? Police Practice and Research, 6(4), 347–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ontario Provincial Police. (2016). Canine Unit. Retrieved October 1, 2017, from https://www.opp.ca/index.php?id=115&entryid=56e083458f94ac916f0d8b35.
  36. Ottawa Police Service. (n.d.). Tactical Unit. Retrieved January 8, 2017, from https://www.ottawapolice.ca/en/about-us/tactical-unit.asp.
  37. Ottawa Police Service. (2009). 20072008 Crime trends for the City of Ottawa (Ottawa Police Service, Author). Retrieved from http://app06.ottawa.ca/calendar/ottawa/citycouncil/opsb/2009/05-25/item9att2.pdf.
  38. Ottawa Police Service. (2011). Crime, police, and traffic statistics report (Ottawa Police Service, Author). Retrieved from http://ottawa.ca/calendar/ottawa/citycouncil/opsb/2011/05-30/item7atta.pdf.
  39. Ottawa Police Service. (2014). 20122013 Crime Trends: City of Ottawa (Ottawa Police Service, Author). Retrieved from https://www.ottawapolice.ca/en/annual-report/resources/2012-2013_Crime_Trends_for_City.pdf.
  40. Ottawa Police Service. (2017). Ottawa Police Service 2016 Annual Report. Retrieved from https://www.ottawapolice.ca/en/annual-report-2016/resources/2016/OPS_17-067_AR_2017_EN_v6.pdf.
  41. Peak, B. (2015). Militarization of school police: One route on the school-to-prison pipeline. Arkansas Law Review, 68, 195–229.Google Scholar
  42. Phillips, S. W. (2016). Myths, militarism and the police patrol rifle. Policing and Society, 26(2), 185–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Radil, S., Dezzani, R., & McAden, L. (2017). Geographies of U.S. Police Militarization and the Role of the 1033 Program. The Professional Geographer, 69(2), 203–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Rivera, G. (2015). Armed not militarized: Achieving real police militarization. Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, 20(2), 227–259.Google Scholar
  45. Ross, J. I. (1995). Violence by municipal police in Canada: 1977–1992. In J. I. Ross (Ed.), Violence in Canada: Socio-political perspectives. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Ross, J. I. (1992). The outcomes of public police violence: A neglected research agenda. Police Studies, 15(1), 163–183.Google Scholar
  47. Roziere, B., & Walby, K. (forthcoming). Police militarization in Canada: Media rhetoric and operational realities. Policing: a Journal of Policy and Practice.Google Scholar
  48. Salter, M. (2014). Toys for the boys? Drones, pleasure and popular culture in the militarization of policing. Critical Criminology, 22(2), 163–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Saskatoon Police Service. (n.d.). Tactical support unit. Retrieved January 8, 2017, from http://saskatoonpolice.ca/tsu/.
  50. Shantz, J. (2016). They have always been military: On so-called militarized policing in Canada. Journal of Social Justice, 6, 1–26.Google Scholar
  51. Vancouver Police Department. (2016). Vancouver Police Department crime incident and crime rate statistics. Retrieved from http://vancouver.ca/police/Planning/StatsCrimeRate/2010-2015R.pdf.
  52. Vancouver Police Department. (2017). Vancouver Police Department crime incident and crime rate statistics. Retrieved from http://vancouver.ca/police/Planning/StatsCrimeRate/2011-2016R.pdf.
  53. Walby, K., & Larsen, M. (2012). Access to information and freedom of information requests: Neglected means of data production in the social sciences. Qualitative Inquiry, 18(1), 31–42.Google Scholar
  54. Weiss, T. (2011). The blurring border between the police and the military: A debate without foundations. Cooperation and Conflict, 46(3), 396–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Winnipeg Free Press. (2016). Free Press has top readership. Winnipeg Free Press, City, p. 2. Retrieved from Canadian Reference Centre database. (Accession No. 7BS2253628032).Google Scholar
  56. Winnipeg Police Service. (2016). Winnipeg Police Service announces downtown safety strategy (Press release). Retrieved from http://www.winnipeg.ca/police/press/2016/12dec/2016_12_15.aspx.
  57. Winnipeg Police Service. (2017). Winnipeg Police Service 2016 annual statistical report. Retrieved from http://www.winnipeg.ca/police/AnnualReports/2016/2016_wps_annual_report_english.pdf.
  58. Wood, D. (2016). Calgary cops shopping for new armoured vehicle. Calgary Sun. Retrieved from http://www.calgarysun.com/2016/08/02/calgary-cops-shopping-for-new-armoured-vehicle.
  59. Wood, L. (2014). Crisis and control: The Militarization of protest policing. London: Pluto.Google Scholar

Access to Information Requests

  1. Access Request #16-10-911. (2016). Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to Winnipeg Police Service.Google Scholar
  2. Access Request #16-2974A. (2016). Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to Vancouver Police Department.Google Scholar
  3. Access Request #16-867. (2016). Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to Ottawa Police Service.Google Scholar
  4. Access Request #16-G-1467. (2016). Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to Calgary Police Service.Google Scholar
  5. Access Request #17-4-295. (2017). Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to Winnipeg Police Service.Google Scholar
  6. Access Request #17-G-0582. (2017). Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to Calgary Police Service.Google Scholar
  7. Access Request #CSCS-A-2016-04906. (2016). Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request to Ontario Provincial Police.Google Scholar

Legislation

  1. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. F-25, s. 20(1)(c), 20(1)(k).Google Scholar
  2. Mental Health Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M-7, s. 17.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of Criminal JusticeUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

Personalised recommendations