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Saturday, July 5, 2014

ACLU Swatting At SWAT

For John, BLUFThe Police are a powerful force for good or evil, and must be subject to the People and not a force unto themselves.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From The [Lowell] Sun we have a report titled "Regional SWAT team faces ACLU suit over records".  On Wednesday last this blog mentioned the issue.  The Sun article has additional information on SWAT teams and the ACLU. 

The ACLU released a report Tuesday about the increasing militarization of the country's police departments.  The report, titled "War Comes Home:  The Excessive Militarization of American Policing," looked at the use of SWAT teams in law enforcement, especially when it comes to drug raids, in Massachusetts and across the nation.  The report examined 818 SWAT operations from July 2010 to last October, which were conducted by more than 20 law-enforcement agencies in 11 states, including Massachusetts.

. . . The ACLU of Massachusetts has sued NEMLEC in Suffolk Superior Court for refusing to release records for the report. The ACLU wants a judge to rule that the documents are public records and to order the agency to release them.  No court hearing has been scheduled.

"NEMLEC can't have it both ways," said ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney Jessie Rossman.  "Either it is a public entity subject to public-records laws, or what it is doing is illegal."

The Police fill an important function in our society and deserve our respect and support.  As City Life host George Anthes said Thursday last on the show, nothing better than a good cop and nothing worse, than a bad cop.  We give our police broad discretion and that makes for the best kind of civil society.  With certain criminal activities, and the associated criminals, for example, illegal drugs, the danger to police and bystanders is increased.  Where intelligence says that there will be problems, addition effort may be required, but always with the recognition that part of what we expect from our Police is a certain acceptance of risk to protect the civilian population in the area.  And, I believe we expect that all doing police functions do so as agents of the Government, and subject to Government rules.

I see no reason that local SWAT Teams should be organized in any way other than under a Government entity.  If frequency of use precludes smaller towns from having their own SWAT Team (and I think it would) perhaps the Sheriff can help or a mutual aid agreement with a nearby City would work.  That said, I am open to hearing other views.

The reporter was Ms Lisa Redmond.

Regards  —  Cliff

  From the article, "Created in the late 1960s as "quasi-militaristic" units to handle emergency situations such as riots, hostage scenarios and active shooter situations, SWAT squads have since surged in number, and are "used with greater frequency and, increasingly, for purposes for which they were not originally intended — overwhelmingly to serve search warrants in drug investigations," according to the report."  I think "quasi-militaristic" is the wrong term.  Better would be "quasi-military", unless the Reporter or Editor really meant "militaristic".
  This is no different from what the Law of Armed Conflict expects of military personnel with regard to civilians.  Reasonable care to avoid the killing of civilians.

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