Tuesday, March 21, 2006

War on this, war on that

BBC NEWS | Americas | Death raises concern at police tactics


Dr Kraska believes there has been an explosion of [SWAT teams] in smaller towns and cities, where training and operational standards may not be as high as large cities - a growth he attributes to "the hysteria" of the country's war on drugs.

"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," he adds.


When criminology professor David Klinger looked at 12 years of data on Swat teams in 1998, he also found the most common reason for calling out teams was serving warrants, but that the units used deadly force during warrant service only 0.4% of the time.


But Dr Kraska sees such initiatives as reflecting a changing culture of police work.

"These elite units are highly culturally appealing to certain sections of the police community. They like it, they enjoy it," he says.

"The chance to strap on a vest, grab a semi-automatic weapon and go out on a mission is for some people an exciting reason to join - even if policing as a profession can - and should - be boring for much of the time.

"The problem is that when you talk about the war on this and the war on that, and police officers see themselves as soldiers, then the civilian becomes the enemy."
Too bad for the killed Dr. Salvatore Culosi. Too bad for us all.


1 comment:

jj mollo said...

This reminds me a little of the hospitals with their fancy new equipment -- CAT-scan, MRI, whatever. Everybody wants to have the latest, no matter what it costs. Then once you have it, well, you have to use it to justify the cost. And, you know, when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail.

One hopes that the really gung ho types will enlist for duty in Iraq, but even there they can do more damage than good.