To the Editor:
I wish that conservatives who rightly decry the federal government’s deadly excessive force in Waco, Texas in 1993 would apply the same scrutiny to use of force by law enforcement generally, especially in relation to the increasingly literal “War on Drugs.”
An August 31 letter to the editor engaged in needless fear-mongering about violent crime – which has dropped significantly since the early 1990’s. This kind of fear-mongering against crime and drugs has led to erosion of civil liberties and ever-increasing use of force by government agents.
SWAT teams, which were originally for riots, hostage situations and barricaded suspects, are now used between 50,000 and 80,000 times per year. (See http://wapo.st/1w0xqxd for more.) The vast majority of these paramilitary raids are for simple search warrants, where SWAT is not needed.
SWAT often creates a needlessly violent situation that could be resolved with a traditional search. For examples, see the horrific burning of an 18 month old baby earlier this year by a flash-bang grenade, the police officer killed by Corey Maye when Maye thought he was the victim of a home invasion, and the 92 year old woman who was gunned down in her own home by SWAT in Atlanta.