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The Source: Are We Overusing SWAT Teams?


A grandfather who died on the floor of his own home, the result of a misfire, a mother who was shot while holding her infant son, a new study from the American Civil Liberties Union highlights tragedies that have happened when Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams are used for incidents once thought of as outside of their scope.

The study identifies a high percentage of times when the use of SWAT teams was superflous -- 62% were for drug searches in a 2011 and 2012. 

It argues the rise in these types of units and equipment are proof of the militarization resulting from incentives from the federal government to purchase and train police in these ways.  

Roadside bomb-protected vehicles and battlefield weapons come from places like the Department of Defense's 1033 program.


  • Radley Balko, Washington Post reporter, Cato Institute fellow and author of the book "The Rise of the Warrior Cop" (@radleybalko).
  • Kara Dansky, senior counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.

*This is the first segment in the June 30 edition of The Source, which airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM.  Audio from this segment will be posted by 5:30 p.m.

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive