Utah SWAT stats show militarized tactics used less, but still overwhelmingly for drug crimes
Radley Balko reports in the Washington Post:
Currently, Utah is the only state in the country that requires police departments to keep statistics on how often and for what purpose they use their SWAT teams. The report for 2015 has just been made available to the public. (See the raw data here.)
Despite the requirement that they report this information, 39 of the state’s 149 police agencies — or 26 percent — still refused to comply. Of those that did, here’s what we learned for 2015:
- Overall use of SWAT teams in Utah dropped 18 percent from 2014.
- Of the 457 SWAT deployments, 281 involved forcible entry into a private residence.
- About three out of four forcible entries were for drug-related offenses.
SWAT teams were originally intended as a response to active shooters, hostage takings, armed robberies, and other violent crimes-in-progress. So that nearly 75 percent of forced entries were for drug crimes is troubling. The raw data shows that just nine of the 457 SWAT deployments and forced entries were for . . .
And shouldn’t the other 49 states be keeping track of things, just as Utah does? Just in terms of knowing what we’re paying for, if nothing else.