Wow, what a frightening story. Apparently the the use of SWAT teams and military-style force on U.S. citizens is increasing exponentially. These “special teams” are being called in for situations that do not justify this kind of force, and yet there they are, often killing people without cause or raiding the wrong houses. Excessive force is skyrocketing, if the figures in this story are accurate.
Professor Peter Kraska, an expert on police militarisation from Eastern Kentucky University, says that in the 1980s there were about 3,000 Swat team deployments annually across the US, but says now there are at least 40,000 per year.
…The problem is that when you talk about the war on this and the war on that, and police officers see themselves as soldiers, then the civilian becomes the enemy.
Jesus H. Christ! He’s got a point, though. We’re constantly declaring war on something: war on drugs, war on poverty, Bush’s war on terrrr, war on cancer, war on hunger. (Notice there’s no war on war.) “Declaring war” is apparently our culture’s solution to everything, as opposed to “solving” or “helping” or “finding a cure.” And everyone is a target: a group of Tibetan monks was recently raided by a SWAT team (take that, ya hippies!), and even the FDA has its own paramilitary teams who go out and bust people who are doing research it doesn’t like.
John Gnagey, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, told the BBC: “What we find is that when Swat teams go out, shootings go down. We don’t see it as escalating anything. We see it as reducing violence.” [emphasis added]
Um, you’re reducing violence for whom, the unarmed guy in this story shot and killed “by accident”? I’m far from an expert, but the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the use of military force on U.S. citizens…and while these incidents may not involve the actual military, they appear to involve military-style tactics and equipment, which is close enough for me.
Anyway, zillions of people with far better knowledge of the topic have already written about this stuff, but I haven’t paid attention to it for a long time until recently. Some of what I’ve read sounds a bit paranoid and anecdotal (“Dude, the army is patrolling South Central Phoenix! Like, I saw ’em!”), but who knows. When I see stories like this as well as news stories easily found online, it makes me wonder where it’s all going to end up.