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. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. “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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

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