Should Small Law Enforcement Units Have SWAT Teams?


Dallas County Constable Roma’s Skinner’s “special response team” is one of four SWAT-like tactical units operated by local constables, and among a dozen or so in the Dallas area, says the Dallas Morning News. The team is trained to handle incidents such as “hazardous apprehensions, barricaded persons, and hostage rescues,” according to a blurb underneath the photo on the constable’s Web page. On average, the team has been called upon about three times a year, typically for search warrants or arrest warrants. Across the nation, the wisdom of relatively small law enforcement agencies fielding tactical teams increasingly is being questioned. Some experts suggest that smaller departments don’t have a sufficient pool from which to select ideal candidates, and may not have sufficient funds for training and equipment.

In Dallas, Skinner’s office balked at providing an inventory of equipment for his special response team and at detailing what has been purchased for it. A prosecutor asserted that disclosing such information might “compromise the actions” of the team and perhaps put it in danger. The newspaper determined that redacted receipts from Skinner’s office detailed more than $7,000 in charges for paintball equipment, silencers, and several other items listed on briefing agendas available to the general public online.

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