Tuesday, March 25, 2008

SWAT in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles SWAT doesn't keep their website up to date, but what they do have suggests a major shift in the kinds of tasks that make up their work load. More and more the shift is away from the traditional hostage situation towards ordinary police work of serving warrants. From 2001 to 2003 (the only years they give data for on the website) their warrant service workload tripled.

2001 35
2002 53
2003 122

A change in mission certainly should call for a change in training requirements. Change doesn't mean they've lowered standards. Patterico, a prosecutor in Los Angeles, doesn't seem to have a clear understanding of that.

Although Pattrerico does recognize that there are some areas where the "bust in the door and shoot the bad guys" approach isn't appropriate,
Also, now that I have read the report, I find myself in agreement with one general problem it identifies (even if I don’t necessarily agree with the particular recommendations the panelists make for fixing it): the way the department in general (and SWAT in particular) deals with mentally ill suspects. The report gives numerous examples that can be faulted for excessive second-guessing, but that nevertheless provide some evidence that there is a better way to deal with the mentally ill. Often a nonconfrontational approach is better — not always, but often.

he seems to miss the point about the danger of present tactics (danger to both police and victims of police mistakes). Everybody would be safer if SWAT teams had less training on shooting people and more training on getting the address right before they bust a door in


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