Thursday, March 08, 2007

Too Much SWAT

Radley Balco brings us the latest in SWAT-team excesses, this time from Akron, Ohio. According to the story, a woman, Georgette Prince was handcuffed at gun point as part of a SWAT-team raid on a local convenience store. Meanwhile, her 12-year old son, who had been waiting in the parking lot, was made to lie on the ground at gun point. Police later apologized for the treatment and insisted that everything had been by the book- the SWAT-team was apparently needed because the target of the raid (which, by the way, was part of a multi-county investigation of a shoplifting ring) was the store owner, whom police believed to be armed and potentially violent.

Let me be very clear about my criticism here (which I believe echoes Radley Balco's criticism). This is not about bad cops and this is not about abolishing the use of SWAT-teams. This is about severely limiting the situations in which we use SWAT-teams.

This sort of use of a SWAT-team should be unacceptable to every single American. In storming a convenience store, during business hours, the police created a risk of violence, and potentially put innocent people at risk. Remember, this raid was about some sort of organized criminal activity- this raid was not conducted because this store owner posed some sort of violent threat to the public at large. Luckily, there was no lasting damage, although there is a terrified mother and child. It's supposed to be the job of the police to protect the public, not terrify them and put them at risk.


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