ACLU study finds SWAT teams increasingly used to search homes

| Feb 13, 2015 | Uncategorized

Here at the Baker Law Firm, we have been helping clients in the Phoenix area defend against criminal charges for nearly a decade. We have seen firsthand that in some cases, law enforcement authorities can overstep their authority, sometimes leading to improper arrests as well as injured bystanders.

According to a recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union, law enforcement authorities have been increasingly deploying Special Weapons and Tactics teams when engaging in drug searches. The report notes that there were over 800 instances of SWAT use in 2011 through 2012, and drug searches were the cited reason for 62 percent of SWAT team deployment during this period.

This is an alarming trend for a number of reasons. For one thing, SWAT tactics are more than two times as likely to engage in aggressive, forced entry when executing search warrants. SWAT deployments often involve 20 or more heavily armed officers who usually enter a home by breaking through windows and doors. Once in the home, these officers order anyone they see to drop to the floor. Numerous instances of injuries and deaths were caused by SWAT forces. Among these victims were young mothers, children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Some law enforcement agencies claim that SWAT teams are required when there is a chance that officers will be threatened. However, the ACLU determined that authorities’ belief that such a threat existed was baseless 65 percent of the time.

Errors made by officers while they are executing search warrants or arresting suspects may become important aspects of a strong defense strategy. To learn more about how to defend against charges of drug crimes, assault or weapons crimes, please see our page on criminal defense.