ACLU: 62 Percent of SWAT Team Raids Were Searches For Drugs

250px-swat_teamThe American Civil Liberties Union has released a report looking at police militarization and the use of SWAT raids. The study looked at 800 deployments of SWAT teams among 20 local, state and federal police agencies in 2011-2012 and found some interesting (though not necessarily surprising) statistics.

The study found that 62 percent of SWAT raids are targeting drugs. We have been discussing a series of mistaken raids, negligent shootings, and injuries associated with these drug raids — often carried out with “no knock” warrants. The police are routinely including a belief that guns may be present to secure “no knocks” and then pulling out their armored vehicles and SWAT teams.

The report also found that 36 percent of the SWAT raids found no contraband of any kind was found — and that this rate may be as high as 65 percent because of the incomplete reports of police. We have seen this statistic also reflected in recent tragedies.

Another interesting statistic is that 80 percent of SWAT raids were to serve a search warrant. That is far different from the original purpose of rescuing hostages and capturing armed escaped felons. These are people who have not been convicted of crimes. Conversely, just 7 percent of SWAT raids were “for hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios” — the famed purpose of the SWAT unit.

Another finding (that also reflects a recent tragedy of a baby seriously injured by a stun grenade) found that 65 percent of SWAT deployments resulted in some sort of forced entry into a private home, by way of a battering ram, boot, or some sort of explosive device. Yet, in over half those raids, the police failed to find any sort of weapon.

Here is the ACLU report: SWAT Report

Source: Washington Post

39 thoughts on “ACLU: 62 Percent of SWAT Team Raids Were Searches For Drugs

  1. Two schools of thought are probably in operation in most of these departments: Use it or lose it, and better safe than sorry, a variation of shoot first, ask questions later,

  2. Law enforcement is an executive function, but the executive is referred to, even in court, as “The Government.”

    Addiction to ignorance, just preferring ignorance, or negligent nomenclature?

    Justice Souter indicates that two-thirds of Americans do not know that there are three branches of government (@1:27):

  3. Mostly drug raids, eh?

    Guns don’t kill… people do.

    Some of these people are members of SWAT teams. Paramilitary units with a military mindset as they enter. And all to find these drugs. That herb was going to attack the officer you know. So he shoots first and asks questions later.

  4. This is just a result of the larger problem. That police have taken on a war fighter mentality, and see the public as a threat to them ending their tour. Many police officers and federal agents (especially federal) are former soldiers who don’t appear to have transitioned back to civilian life. That’s why police call the general public “civilians” instead of seeing them as fellow residents and equals. What bothers me the most is that even when police flash fry a child, or shoot one of the many dogs, or bust down the wrong door for a few ounces of pot., is that they never seem to get the right message from it. That’s why you never see an admission of wrongdoing, of understanding, of contrition. They see no need to be responsive to the fellow citizens they are supposed to be protecting. They are supposed to be patrolling their city, not securing their sector. That’s the problem that needs to be overcome. Once they don’t see the public as the enemy, then they can start to understand why they are viewed so negatively by large portions of society.

  5. This drug prohibition war is very much like the alcohol prohibition of the 1920s and its related violent crime. But now the government’s own police have become the violent criminals, they are the real Capones of our time.

  6. And, this lobby, the armed police, detectives, prosecutors, prisons, etc.; all who feed off the public War on Drugs trough, is one of the most pernicious in continuing this insane war. A war by the way where they have gotten their asses kicked by ruthless private businessmen, for decades.

  7. You forgot the other use of SWAT: swatting. Brian Krebs was swatted by one of the children he writes about on his blog Krebs on Security.

    Many celebrities have been swatted. Our law enforcement geniuses have never bothered to think about the fact that Caller ID information generated by cell phone, VOIP, and other Internet devices can be easily spoofed, yet they blindly trust it to vector a team carrying a truckload of automatic weapons.

    I’m not normally one to advocate anarchy, but maybe that’s the solution. If enough people swat relatives and friends of police chiefs and SWAT team members, maybe they will get the message and back off their use of dangerous tactics.

    And legalizing marijuana in all 50 states and territories would also help.

  8. This is just stunning and disgusting! What more can the average Joe do to bring attention to and maybe even reverse this horrific trend? The implications and repercussions of such a statistic speak to a broken justice system,,,,,broken on every level. There has to be an answer.

  9. Legalizing pot, at least, would be a step in the right direction. Maybe others too. Perhaps those like pot and alcohol which are dangerous mostly to self, but sometimes others via DWI. No danger to others when you are enjoying a rerun of The Godfather drunk or stoned.

  10. This is a perfect example of the duopoly in complete bipartisan agreement. Both parties have continued this insane war. It will take a destruction of the duopoly to end this, and many other, insanities.

  11. What police state? 62% stake is a lot of dough that is not going to be just handed back without a peep. WA state legalized over a year and a half ago and they are still having trouble finding their behinds with both hands. CO is waaaay ahead of the game.

  12. Look, you give a guy a new toy he is going to find a way to use it as much as he can. The problem is that they bought the equipment and they want to use it as much as possible. It is mission creep. CO has no idea what kind of problems they have coming down the pike. Their problems are just beginning.

  13. Paul C. Schulte:”Look, you give a guy a new toy he is going to find a way to use it as much as he can.”

    Sorry, Paul. We aren’t talking about toys here. We’re talking about deadly weapons. We’re talking about groups of sociopathic psychopaths who think that because they wear a shiny star on their camouflage they have the right to act like Rambo. This must be stopped. Want a reason to not ban assault rifles? This is it in a nutshell.

  14. One,

    That is a greatly distressing situation in Massachusetts. Thank you for the link. That type of organization should be dismantled in my view. I can’t see, among other things, how these officers can be employed by a 501(c)(3) organization and still receive state funded pensions.

  15. “The Drug Wars need to be over.”

    There is a war going on indeed. The federal government has raised an army to fight this war. The “civilians” in this war are ordinary non-criminal citizens. Collateral damage is expected in a war. The dealers and growers and their supply chain to the user are the enemy.

    In a real war a country is taken and everyone, civilian population included, is under the invading army’s jurisdiction. After WWII my aunt, an army officer, was in Japan. I have some of her loot. My uncle refused to speak of how he got his Silver Star… it saddened him. That is what a real war is like.

    Is the War on Drugs a real war?

  16. One should also look at the specific geography involved in the raids. If the police are going into the ghetto or barrio, it makes sense for them to use SWAT teams rather than to place normal officers at unconscionable levels of risk.

    Cultural proclivities and differences require policing to tailored to the demographics and locales involves.

  17. One – thanks for the article. This idea of combining the forces of several communities is coming back to bite some of them. My community ‘loaned’ out officers for a drug raid that went bad and it cost the town a couple of million dollars. I hope our insurance covered it. We pay extra to have extra cops in the town and I do not like to see them on loan to other communities for their SWAT teams.

  18. For those advocating just surface reform, acknowledging the abuses only in their extent not in form . .
    with the very same laws they have now, they could legally pull a swat raid on anyone suspected of having illegally downloaded music or movies.
    The raids are obviously more dangerous to society than whatever they purport to be saving us from.
    The reforms have to be more fundamental, and legal avenues must be in place to punish the police and their superiors when they overstep their bounds.

  19. […] Every rational person knows that there will never be an “end” to sexual assault, just as there will never be a victory in the “war on drugs.” A government that is trying to get you to believe such absurdities may be preparing you to accept atrocities as well. The absurdity of the “war on drugs” has led to the atrocity of America’s prison system, one of the most brutal in the world, in which non-violent drug offenders are subject to assault, rape and murder every day. It has also, with other currents, contributed to the militarization of local police. After all, a war needs to be fought by a military. […]

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