November 16, 2006
Black and Blue: Police Abuse of Force
Ever since Rodney King was plunged into the national spotlight following his violent
arrest by Los Angeles Police Department officers, law enforcement agencies nationwide have
been implementing policies in order to cease any such incidents from occurring within their
jurisdiction. Contrary to popular belief, many incidents concerning police abuse of force stems
from Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) officers and not ordinary patrol officers. The
number of police abuse of force incidents involving S.W.A.T. officers have been increasing
over the last few years. Some believe that this is due to their military-esque training, which by
comparison can be related to that of the NAVY SEALs. Not only do these police officers
undergo rigorous military style training, but many of them have experience in the military to
some degree. The risks associated with such teams are high because "Special Response Teams
deal with incidents that have a potential for personal harm and/or loss of life" (Smith 4). Also,
"the cost of poor decisions is the greater risk-to the agency, administrators, team members,
victims, and suspects" (Smith 4). The issue regarding S.W.A.T. team excessive force may never
be eliminated entirely, however, through extensive training involving simulations we can
hopefully limit these number of incidents. This training could possibly instruct S.W.A.T.
officers what not to do given specific situations and circumstances.
A majority of incidents occur because of the overall violent nature of S.W.A.T. team
deployments. According to Professor Peter Kraska, an expert on police militarization from
Eastern Kentucky University, "I get several calls a month from people asking about local
incidents - wrong address raids, excessive use of force, wrongful shootings - this stuff is
happening all the time". The manner in which... [continues]
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