errence Thompson, chief of police in my town of Upper Dublin, PA, said that while he understands the need for officers to have adequate weapons because of the heavier firepower of today’s criminals, and even understands why towns want armored vehicles for their SWAT teams, he is also concerned that SWAT tactics are being over-used, and that overall the militarization of police is a dangerous trend.Sir Robert Peel set the rules of policing nearly two centuries ago: The police are the public and the public are the police.
“SWAT is a necessary evil -- well, I won’t say evil, they’re necessary,” says Thompson. “But SWAT teams shouldn’t be used for serving routine warrants. First of all, if we’re going to serve a warrant at a home, we do a threat assessment. Does the person in the house own a gun, does he have a history of violence? Also, are there other people in the house? Are there children? And you have to make sure you get the address right. When SWAT teams make a mistake about the address, it’s scary.”
Thompson insists that it’s critical for police be part of their community, and that they maintain a polite and professional attitude towards the public. “Someone giving the finger to a cop doesn’t call for a high-speed pursuit,” he says. Nor, he says, is it acceptable for police to be rude or threatening when they are engaged in something like a traffic stop or a minor arrest.
He says, “The scary thing about all the militarization of policing -- the M-16s, the camo for the SWAT teams and so on -- is that you lose touch with your community, and if the police lose that connection, you’re dead in the water.”
Monday, April 28, 2014
Police Chief: We're headed towards a Police State
Via Brock Townsend, this is refreshing honesty: