I'll remind you again that I'm not a cop-hater. I'm all for constitutional and common-sense policing. In the last few years there has been a conspicuous lack of common sense when it comes to SWAT teams in particular. See this CATO institute map showing recent SWAT debacles. Hell, just Google "SWAT raids wrong house" and you'll get way too many hits.
WARNING! GRAPHIC VIDEO. NOT KID-SAFE OR WORK-SAFE!
So today, I saw this story from The Daily Mail about a Sheriff in Indiana who needs an MRAP to fight all the veterans returning from war (his words, not mine). The military is offering MRAPs to various law-enforcement departments nationwide at bargain-basement prices. Not wanting to pass up an MRAP for roughly $499,500 off list price, many departments are buying them.
The problem is that SWAT teams are already wreaking havoc with the equipment they have now. Imagine a wrong-door raid where some genius decides to breach the house with his shiny new 60,000lb MRAP because, well, he can. Currently, SWAT teams are getting away with murder (sometimes literally). County attorneys won't prosecute officers for gross misconduct, and Joe Citizen's only recourse is a lawsuit, which most municipalities don't really fear anymore. I don't want to give SWAT teams any new tools with which to terrorize law-abiding citizens.
But not being one to just bitch and moan, I'll propose some SWAT reforms.
1) SWAT members must take a class on constitutional law, and take refreshers yearly.
2) Team members must qualify with their weapons quarterly, if not monthly.
3) Team members must pass a warrant writing class, and demonstrate that they understand how to read a warrant (especially the address of the place to be searched).
4) Every raid has an official AAR with city council members or other civilian oversight present.
5) Three wrong-door raids in any 12-month period results in the team being disbanded and the leadership (sergeant and above) fired. All funds set aside for the team in the future will be paid back to the taxpayers. Officers involved in a wrong-door raid will personally apologize to the victims, and pay for all damages to property. They will also re-train on warrant writing and reading.
I don't want this to spiral out of control to a political blog, so I'll take a break from this stuff for a while. I write this because I care about the image police have in this country. I have friends who are cops. I was a cop. I want them to be safe, and I want you to feel safe around them. Unfortunately, that can't happen until we get a handle on police use of force. I would urge any cops in the audience to push their peers to excel as professionals and seek extra training in use of force and constitutional law.