I will not bore you mentioning the many instances where SWAT teams have been used for totally stupid cases, but I do want to say that there is a dangerous mindset going on that will result in one final raid-that-should-not-have-happened with dangerous consequences.
Several steps should be taken in order to avoid there silly-dangerous raids. Nothing much in order of money expenditure, but it will require a considerable usage of frigging common sense.
- Whomever issues the bad warrant must be liable both criminally and monetarily. By shifting the liability from the County/City to the individual, we eliminate the sense of invincibility associated with the “Good Luck Suing City Hall” mentality.
- Just because your have a SWAT team, does not mean you have to use it every day. I know police forces must justify their budgets with action, but lawsuits and bad press will cost more at the end. Sending SWAT to arrest somebody for a stupid transgression just to show the politicos you are doing something with the team is asinine. and that brings us to
- SWAT leaders have the right and the responsibility to reject serving a warrant if they think it is an overkill. Overdue library books or having the music too loud do not require a dynamic entry, flashbangs and battering rams.
- Use better Intelligence to allocate resources appropriately. We had a case in South Florida where a SWAT team executed a warrant on a house where allegedly a bad hombre, major drug dealer lived. The tip was given by an informant and very quick check showed that the person of interest had a Concealed Weapons Permit. The SWAT team was called, the raid was done, the alleged criminal heard the commotion, went for his sidearm and ended up dead. When air cleared and the followup investigation proceeded, it was found that the super-dangerous criminal was a kid in his 20’s who worked as a bartender, lived with his mom and had to take public transportation to work because he sold his car to help his Mother with the mortgage. The subject did have pot in the house, but what it amounted to a couple of joints. This was hardly the ruthless killer living in an armed compound that demanded the use of a SWAT team but nobody took the time to actually do a bit of research on the subject and finding out that he was just a regular Joe.
Suspicious minds make the point that the misuse of SWAT teams is just a reflection of our way into a Militarized Dictatorial society. I believe that mostly is a heavy case of Heinlein’s Razor: “You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity.” However I do anticipate one nasty conflagration where things will go utterly bad for everybody involved with a high casualty number and right after that, the politicians will descend on the remains to make political hay out of the situation.