Radley Balko refines a longrunning critique of SWAT tactics in the drug war:
I report on a lot of wrong door raids here. But this one shows why they’re an inappropriate use of force to serve warrants for nonviolent crimes even when the police have the right house, and they actually find their suspect with illicit drugs. SWAT tactics are appropriate when you’re using their inherent violence to defuse an already violent situation. When they’re used to serve drug warrants, you’re creating violence where none existed before. The consequences are predictable. People diecops, drug dealers, people mistaken for drug dealers, and bystanders.
Even if you support the drug war, it isn’t any more difficult to get high in Framingham, Massachussets today than it was last week. So what purpose do the 150 or or so drug raids per day in this country serve, other than to inflict government-sanctioned violence on people suspected of consensual, ultimately political crimes?
One purpose is that they justify higher spending on weapons and salaries in police departments across the country. And the paramilitary garb has cachet among a lot of cops. Balko has much more on the subject here.