The issue of police militarization has faded from the headlines since Ferguson, but SWAT teams are still out there, somewhere. Hopefully not outside your door, waiting to throw flash-bangs into your living room. But outside someone’s door, looking to take them down for drug-related offenses before the accused can flush contraband down the toilet. Seriously, that was the rationale for no-knock SWAT raids back in the day – despite the fact that cops can install sewage traps. Still true today. As is SWAT mission creep (terrorism!). These days, they’re still being used for all sorts of things like . . .
Raiding the house where someone used an unsecured WiFi connection to threaten officers’ families.
There’s been an unmistakeable change in the public’s perception of police in general and SWAT teams in specific. The courts, who once gave SWAT cops free reign to no-knock on the flimsiest of evidence, are dialing it back. Uncle Sam has curtailed the military -> police equipment program that kitted-up SWAT teams from coast to coast. More importantly . . .
While the Thin Blue Line is still a thing, so now is a sense of accountability. Last month, the feds charged former Georgia deputy sheriff Nikki Autry for making false statements to obtain a search warrant for the Habersham County home where a SWAT team member disfigured a toddler with a flash bang. On Friday, an Ohio judge ruled that Evansville Police Department “committed too many mistakes” to be shielded from liability in a lawsuit over the above raid.
Still, we’re a long way from the days of where officers walked the beat and cops respectfully requested bad guys to surrender. Is there any going back?