The use of militaristic Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) deployments for local police search warrants “has become commonplace,” according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union, an advocacy group.
Researchers examined more than 800 SWAT raids in 20 states and found that 79 percent were to serve a search warrant for an individual's home.
Though SWAT raids are commonly associated with police response to potentially violent situations, the report found that, “only a small handful of deployments (7 percent) were for hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios.”
Editor’s Note: For more on the “Warrior Policing” mindset that has accompanied the increasing militarization of U.S. police departments, see TCR West Coast Bureau Chief Joe Domanick’s April 15 column, LINKED HERE.
More than 60 percent of the cases were to search for drugs, according to the report. Drugs were found in just 36 percent of cases tallied by the ACLU, though the report notes that, because of incomplete reporting by police, that figure is not reliable.
The report calls for governments to “rein in incentives” for police militarization, for official tracking of the use of SWAT, and for legislation to develop criteria for when SWAT can be used.
Read the full report HERE.