SWAT: Manufacturing The Justification To Kill?

Mike McDaniel—himself a former SWAT officer—is laying the smack down on the deadly militarization of police and the deadly situations created by these over-gunned, poorly-trained, poorly-led, and barely-regulated paramilitary units:

Nice backwards EOtech there, Barney.

Police officers screaming “police,” “get down” and similar commands while charging into a citizen’s home through their shattered door all too often fail to realize that stunned and unprepared citizens need time to understand what is happening and to respond in any meaningful way. Yet SWAT teams try to use the element of surprise, in effect, causing the kind of stunned hesitation and confusion that poorly trained teams use to justify shooting unarmed citizens in their own homes when those citizens don’t respond precisely as demanded as quickly as officers think they should respond during their hyped-up charges.

In effect, SWAT teams manufacture, through their presence and very tactics and procedures, the circumstances that allow them, under color of authority, to kill citizens, whose only crime is often trying to respond to an unimaginable attack on their home. This is particularly horrific when the police murder innocent people or people guilty of no more than violation of minor, non-violent crimes or even bureaucratic regulations.  Of course, any citizen with the presence of mind to take up a firearm to protect themselves, their family and their home against armed intruders they often do not recognize as police officers will often find themselves on the receiving end of a panicky and uncontrolled barrage of gunfire.

Police executives will often arrogantly proclaim “anyone that points a gun at cops is going to get killed.” Unfortunately, the courts often let them get away with that kind of mindless, blanket action. There is no question that there are circumstances so dangerous to the public and the police that SWAT teams and what are essentially military-style tactics and rules of engagement are justifiable, but those circumstances are rare indeed and should be easily articulable before and after the action. Contrast this with SWAT teams violently attacking citizens in their homes acting only on the possibility that any citizen might be armed and might be moved to use firearms to defend themselves and those they love. Any citizen manufacturing a situation that will give the appearance of legal justification to kill another will surely be charged with premeditated murder. How is a SWAT team doing the same thing any different in intention or outcome?


Read the entire article. Mr. McDaniel has been documenting and dissecting SWAT training, tactics, and usage failures for several years now.

Sadly, he’s getting more subject matter because incompetent tactical teams are lighting up everything that moves, and district attorneys and judges are letting them get away with it.

This has to stop, but the sad reality is that the political will is to simply keep giving officers more weapons, and more excuses for bad behavior.