Measured Against Reality

Friday, April 27, 2007

On SWAT Teams

One of the things that really makes me angry is the overuse of SWAT teams. They will routinely serve minor drug warrants and break up poker games, and you hear terrible stories of them killing family pets for no reason, shoving gun barrels down children's throats, and frequently killing someone on accident. No-knock warrants scare innocent people, and when those people have a gun and think that they're being robbed, police and citizens die.

I think that we need a major overhaul of when SWAT use is acceptable, which should only be high-risk situations (they did a bang-up job in Virginia last week). We also need to reduce the number of no-knock warrants and night raids, so that when the police get bad information or make a mistake (neither of which are too problematic if the follow sane protocol) people don't die.

Radley Balko over at Reason Hit&Run has given me some hope that things might change. The well-publicized case of Kathryn Johnston, who was killed during a botched raid on her home, may bring about actual change. As always, Reason's staff does a better job with the story than I ever could, so check it out.

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