Jun 25 2014
Many Police Departments across the country have SWAT teams – which stands for Special Weapons And Tactics units – designed for use in situations such as a hostage crisis or an armed standoff. But the deployment of SWAT teams in home searches of disproportionate numbers of people of color seems to be the new norm.
A new report by the American Civil Liberties Union called War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing, analyzes police data from 20 agencies around the country during the year 2011-2012.
What the report’s authors found was that 62% of the SWAT team deployments were for drug searches and 79% were to serve search warrants. In only 35% of the cases examined was a weapon even present in the searched home. And, 54% of the people impacted by the deployments were people of color. What’s more, the heavy militarization of police agencies has happened with almost no public oversight.
The stories profiled by the ACLU report are tragic, with severe injuries and even deaths caused by open fire or flash bang grenades. Often children are present when the SWAT teams burst into people homes. One 26 year old African American woman was killed while holding her 14 month old infant.
GUEST: Kara Dansky, Senior Counsel with the ACLU’s Center for Justice
Click here to download a PDF file of the report.