Saturday, July 20, 2013

SWAT Culture

Too Many Cops Are Told They’re Soldiers Fighting a War. How Did We Get Here?
The numbers are staggering. In the early 1980s, there were about 3,000 SWAT "call-outs" per year across the entire country. By 2005, there were an estimated 50,000. In New York City alone, there were 1,447 drug raids 1994. By 2002, eight years later, there were 5,117 -- a 350 percent increase. In 1984, about a fourth of towns between 25,000-50,000 people had a SWAT team. By 2005, it was 80 percent.

Today, the use of this sort of force is in too many jurisdictions the first option for serving search warrants instead of the last. SWAT teams today are used to break up poker games and massage parlors, for immigration enforcement, even to perform regulatory inspections.
This is a very sad state of affairs. Our police departments have lost a view of themselves as members of society aimed at promoting peace and liberty. The SWAT militarization is one outcome of this cultural mindset. Infringing on photographers rights (even violently at times) and destroying evidence of criminal action in doing so is all too common. There are still a majority of police that have not adopted the burnt earth mentality of enforcement but the overwhelming reliance on militaristic thinking has damaged the good will that good efforts provide. This cultural change is extreme and very damaging to society.

We need police to return to the thinking that makes them an important aid to society. The best work in this area that I know of is: Improving Police by the former police chief of Madison, Wisconsin.

Related: The System is Broken: SWAT Raids - Failure to Address Systemic SWAT Raid Failures - More SWAT Failures - Tired of Incompetent Government Harassment - Police Failing to Enforce Law If Lawbreaker is a Police Officer - Security Theatre Thinking is Damaging the USA

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