While discussing his new book, The Rise Of The Warrior Cop, Balko explains how SWAT became ubiquitous:
Sarah Stillman reviews the numbers:
In 1972, America conducted only several hundred paramilitary drug raids a year, according to Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” By the early nineteen-eighties, there were three thousand a year; by 2001, Alexander notes, the annual count had skyrocketed to forty thousand. Today, even that number seems impossibly low, with one annual count of combat-style home raids hovering around eighty thousand.
The ACLU has requested “information from law-enforcement agencies and National Guard offices on how federal funding has helped to drive the militarization of local and state police departments”:
Kara Dansky, the senior counsel of the A.C.L.U.’s Center for Justice, told me that the resulting data has just begun to pour in, and many agencies have proven to be coöperative. The biggest surprise thus far, Dansky says, is how little uniformity and clarity there is about when officers are advised to use extreme SWAT tactics, particularly in cases where mentally-ill or suicidal individuals are their targets. “One major trend that we’re seeing is that police departments across the country vary tremendously in terms of how, if at all, they document information pertaining to their SWAT deployments,” Dansky said. “We have very little doubt that there are circumstances where the use of military tactics or equipment would be an appropriate response to a domestic law-enforcement situation.… But there aren’t always clear standards in place for when certain tactics are appropriate.”