SWAT / by kevin murray

SWAT stands for Special Weapons and Tactics and is a special police force organization which was initially setup to handle crowd control and civil unrest in light of the Watts riots in LA of 1965.  Although it took some time to develop, mature, and synthesize, a typical SWAT team of today according to Wikipedia would consist of some or all of the following: "Such units are often equipped with specialized firearms including submachine guns, assault rifles, breaching shotguns, sniper rifles, riot control agents, and stun grenades. They have specialized equipment including heavy body armor, ballistic shields, entry tools, armored vehicles, advanced night vision optics, and motion detectors for covertly determining the positions of hostages or hostage takers, inside enclosed structures."


SWAT teams are so common and ubiquitous nowadays, that it is estimated that over 90% of cities with a population of 50,000 people or more have a SWAT team as part of their police force.  Yet, the initial mission of SWAT teams was to be only used in extraordinary situations in which the community at large was either in danger, and/or there was an illegal or threatening organization that was heavily armed and unwilling to surrender without armed confrontation.  Examples of the latter would be the shootouts involving: MOVE, the Black Panthers, and the SLA. 


Yet today, SWAT is most commonly used for alleged drug or contraband crimes and the houses that are thereby raided are deliberately raided in order to arrest the suspects and confiscate their drugs.  But in so doing, the SWAT team puts into harm's way other family members, such as children or grandparents, who are wholly innocent or ignorant of these drug crimes.  Therefore, by these actions, it could be argued that these officers of the law are in direct violation of their primary mission which is to "protect and serve". That leads us to question as to why SWAT feels the need to  break into a house with overwhelming force in order to catch a drug criminal when houses are stationary and. have common egress and ingress points.  If there truly are drugs within the house those drugs are going to either have to come in to the house or go out of the house or both.  Why can't SWAT teams concentrate on catching the specific perpetrator at hand and not endanger themselves, the community, and those unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time by simply staking out or observing the suspect over a certain period of time.


Additionally, when it comes to SWAT raids, the data available indicates that it isn't even close to 100% of the time that the warrant is successful in producing criminal charges against any of the occupants of the house that necessitated SWAT in the first place.  Therefore there should be absolute transparency to every SWAT raid in regards to who, what, how, why, when, and where transpired.  How else, can a community properly oversight their police, their SWAT teams, and their community safety without this very pertinent information.


SWAT teams are yet another example of good intentions gone wholly out-of-control whether deliberately or inadvertently.  A man's home is his castle, this is a fundamental right, and what a man does in his home is really his own business unless there is valid proof that there is an activity within the home that endangers the public safety and/or the exigencies of the situation warrants an immediate entry.