Secret Report Criticizes Los Angeles Police SWAT Unit


A panel of law enforcement experts convened by Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton to examine the department’s elite SWAT unit concluded that the rigorous testing to get into the unit should be changed to make it more open to women, called for tighter supervision, and criticized officers for relying too heavily on force over negotiations, the Los Angeles Times reports. The included in a draft of the panel’s confidential report have angered several Special Weapons and Tactics Team members. They say the changes, some of which already have been imposed, are misguided and will probably weaken the specialized unit that is charged with handling hostage situations and other high-risk operations. “This is a recipe for disaster,” said a veteran SWAT officer. “We don’t get to back up and do things over [] These changes are going to put us and the public in danger.”

The report exposes a growing rift between Bratton and the department’s most storied group of officers. The report was submitted to Bratton more than a year ago. He has denied requests by the Times to make the panel’s findings public and has not shared the full contents of the report with the Los Angeles Police Commission, the civilian body that oversees the department. Assistant Chief Sharon Papa said the report’s recommendations would be presented to the commission in two to three months. The report comes to light at a time of heightened attention on SWAT, which last month saw the first officer in its 40-year history killed in the line of duty and another badly wounded when they stormed the house of a mentally ill man who had barricaded himself after killing three family members. Born out of the 1965 Watts riots and formalized 1971, SWAT has been at the center of some of the police department’s most violent and sensational encounters.


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