August 16, 2013
The SWAT team is the big guns of policing in the United States, reserved for kidnappings, gunmen and other highly dangerous and potential volatile situations. Right?
Wrong, apparently, because in recent years, the use of SWAT teams for routine law enforcement matters has been on the rise, with sometimes fatal consequences. These highly trained police personnel are being sent out on gambling raids, ordered to break up underage parties and even dispatched to handle student loan fraud. Not the best use of taxpayer resources, given the expense of maintaining a SWAT team and sending members out on calls, but more than that, it’s a troubling indicator of something going deeply wrong in America.
In the United States, the police are kept separate from the military for a number of social and political reasons. Paramilitary forces like SWAT teams, developed in 1960s Los Angeles to address considerable social unrest, are intended to be used judiciously, in situations where a threat to civilian wellbeing and social stability is so significant that it justifies the use of considerable force and organized military tactics against members of the civilian community.