Rise of SWAT: Out of Hand?

imagesWhat was originally developed as a response to armed, barricaded offenders may be spinning out of control and more and more departments have military weaponry and gear and tend to use organized SWAT teams in situations where they may be inappropriate.

The question for citizens to ask their police and local officials is this:

What are the policies currently in place regarding the use of police SWAT teams in our city?

Read the following from The New York Times on Sept. 7, 2014 and view their video report:

Posse comitatus is not a phrase that trips lightly off every tongue. It is typically translated from Latin as ‘force of the county’… The Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878 at the end of Reconstruction and amended but slightly over the decades, prohibits the nation’s armed forces from being used as a police force within the United States. Soldiers, the reasoning goes, exist to fight wars. Chasing local wrongdoers is a job for cops.

“But many police departments today are so heavily armed with Pentagon-supplied hand-me-downs — tools of war like M-16 rifles, armored trucks, grenade launchers and more — that the principle underlying the Posse Comitatus Act can seem as if it, too, has gone thataway. Questions about whether police forces are overly militarized have been around for years. They are now being asked with new urgency because of the recent turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., where unarmed demonstrators protesting the fatal police shooting of a teenager faced off for a while against mightily armed officers in battle dress and gas masks. What the world saw were lawmen looking more like combat troops in the Mideast than peacekeepers in the Midwest…”

[See the New York Times report, “The Rise of the SWAT Team” HERE.]

What are the policies regarding the use of SWAT teams in your community and how closely are they followed?