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Posted: 1/25/2002 10:37:41 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/25/2002 10:51:44 AM EDT by DScott]
Does anyone have a source for the number of no-knock warrants served in a given time period, say for a year? I heard somewhere that LAPD serves several hundred per year, but am unsure of the source of that info or the actual number. I'm curious just how many of these "SWAT type" raids are conducted per year. I'd like to put the problems entries into perspective when people complain of mistaken addresses, people getting hurt or killed, etc. Thanks! Anybody? Edited to add, the LAPD website says: "Since the advent of the domestic hostage rescue skill, the LAPD SWAT Team has rescued dozens of hostages and currently handles approximately 80 barricaded suspect incidents and 50 high-risk warrants a year." How does that compare to other depts?
Link Posted: 1/25/2002 8:44:51 PM EDT
Sound a little light, if you ask me. Based on what I hear from other agencies, and what I have knowledge about, the average tactical team for a city of about 100,000 residents will: -Be a part-time team that probably has 100-200 hours of a training a year; -Will serve about 50 high risk warrants (both arrest and search warrants) per year; -Will handle about 10-15 "barricaded person" or hostage-type situations per year; -Typically uses very little or no force in accomplishing their missions. I remeber reading a stat that SWAT missions actually have a lower percentage of use-of-force incidents than other arrests (and the general police use-of-force rate during arrests is something like 1.5%). The difference with bigger cities (like LA) may be that in some large cities, many of the high-risk warrants are not served by SWAT because there are so many warrants that SWAT could never do anything but serve high-risk warrants. In these cases, the warrants often get served by smaller "tactical" units drawn from the section responsible for the warrant (like Narcotics or Organized Crime). In these big cities, there is so much call for SWAT-type operations, that SWAT generally gets reserved for the absolute worst cases. These teams are often as well trained (and probably have more operational experience) than their national level hostage-rescue counterparts. As far as anecdotal stuff goes, I have never heard of any tactical unit hitting the wrong house in my area. The only injury I have seen on any tactical mission(aside from training injuries) was when the guy in front of me cut his arm on some broken glass during a hostage rescue. For the record, my town is around 50K, with very low crime. We average about 5 barricaded persons or hostage situations a year, and about 1-2 high-risk warrants (that can't be served by Detectives or Patrol) a month, although sometimes we will have several back-to-back. We have never hit the wrong house, never shot anyone, never hurt anyone, and only ever had to shoot one dog (after it bit two people), and it lived. Good planning and training can often (but not always) eliminate most of that. That being said there are towns half our size with three times the high-risk incident rate that we have. We are blessed with a solid community and a sound economy, which in my limited experience have more to do with keeping crime rates low than any other factors. My "average" figures are based on what I hear from my counterparts who work rougher beats.
Link Posted: 1/25/2002 10:18:41 PM EDT
Thanks, natez! Yeah, it sounded a little low to me, and I remember seeing an LAPD SWAT special where they mentioned a higher figure, but can't find it. This is in response to another thread here where once again, a "mistaken apt. number" entry is alleged, and the "JBT crowd" is going at it. Maybe I'm crazy, but I figured if they had this kind of information, they might reconsider their positions. Any problem with my reposting your response on that other thread? My perception is that mistakes can, and do happen in any job. However, with good training and careful execution, the number and severity of the mistakes can be minimized. Then again, I guess people believe what they want to believe. Thanks again...
Link Posted: 1/26/2002 7:59:26 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/26/2002 8:18:02 AM EDT
Basically, I'd suggest that even if you can get an estimate of the number of incidents, it would be skewed toward the smaller depts., at least the ones with less training. I would guess that since the LAPD SWAT has actually FEWER problems like this because it is so well trained, has dedicated SWAT officers, and is very high profile/high visibility in a VERY anti-LAPD town media-wise. Not all teams have the resources to do that. And probably not all teams should even exist, if you believe even some of what you read. If the team exists, it should be adequately trained for what it is expected to do. If the resources don't exist for training, it shouldn't exist. When I hear about these incidents, they always seem to occur because of poor training or preparation, and as a result, poor execution. But I also think that compared to the number of actions taken by SWAT every year the fact that the media only reported twelve serious incidents actually strengthens my belief that these happen infrequently. Also, note natez's comments that he thought SWAT raids result in use of force incidents at a lower rate than regular arrests. This makes sense. I'm sure we are in agreement that everyone needs to work to keep these terrible mistakes to a minimum. I doubt that it will ever be possible to eliminate them, though. Just like the fact that we execute innocent people because we practice capital punishment, SWAT teams will make some mistakes- they're impossible to prevent. It doesn't mean they're evil or JBTs. Some here are so anti-LE that they take every opportunity to "prove" their bias. I'm sure THEY never make mistakes in their job! I recognize that LE is just another job, although a tough one it's still a job done by mere mortals. (Sorry guys! [:)])
Link Posted: 1/26/2002 9:48:50 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/26/2002 10:28:48 AM EDT
Yes, real numbers would help alot. I also think that basically LE is like any other job or profession, and the people doing it are going to be more or less proficient. Some will be in it for all the wrong reasons (see "Rafael Perez"), and others will do a great job regardless. The bigger question seems to be, like you say, what should the consequences be for mistakes. I believe that depends on why the mistake was made. If it was due to actual negligence or deliberate efforts to hurt someone, then heads should roll personally and dept. wide. If it was an "honest mistake", I don't think anyone should be penalized. I expect that even the best cops make these mistakes occasionally.
Link Posted: 1/26/2002 11:45:00 AM EDT
Dscott- It's a terminology issue, well before it ever gets to a statistical one. In California, there is legally no such thing as a No-Knock warrant. We cannot get, nor quite frankly do we want, one. So, no SWAT team is serving them. Case law standards &/or department policy determine the amount of time that passes between the Knock & Notice and the actual entry. High-Risk warrant services are going to be harder to capture statistically, as no one is reporting them upwards to another body. The NTOA is & has been studying SWAT deployments of all types for years and has released some really interesting information. Unfortunately, the media and others refuse to pay attention to it. Erick
Link Posted: 1/26/2002 11:52:21 AM EDT
Thanks, Eric- What is the NTOA? Is the info on the web?
Link Posted: 1/26/2002 9:23:10 PM EDT
NTOA is the National Tactical Officer's Association. They are the leading professional organization for SWAT and Tactical units in this country. They also have a series of standards and suggested model policies for tactical units. What they have to say on things is taken very seriously; if your policies deviate too far from the standard with out a good, articulable reason, your agency could get its collective butt sued off. They suggest that a part-time tactical unit train at least 16 hours a month. Good training is really the key; bad units or bad incidents almost alwayst come back to deficient (or non-existent) training. Many state level tactical professional organizations are also pushing for mandated levels of training and equipment for tactical units, a move most of us think is a good idea; every time some bunch of cowboys bungles a mission, it makes our job, public support, training and getting equipment and everything else that much harder. Plus it embarrasses the tactical community as a whole. NTOA also has some stats about tactical operations, although such things are pretty hard to track because there is no reporting requirement the way there is for other Uniform Crime Report information. Some people will never admit that there is a need for special tactical units in law enforcement. The problem is, if your community doesn't have this kind of asset available, they are going to run into situations where they needlessly risk (and may even lose) the lives of their citizens, officers and even suspects. "We had to kill him, he didn't give us any other choice," doesn't wash in court these days if your agency should have used a SWAT-type unit to do the mission.
Link Posted: 1/28/2002 10:00:37 AM EDT
Link Posted: 1/28/2002 11:12:50 AM EDT
NTOA does not make its model policies available to the public. Even LE has to pay money for some of the documents, although there is an exchange section. They do this because many of the policies and document contain operationally sensitive information. While it is not secret information in the sense that "classified" government documents are (and are protected from disclosure by criminal penalties), these types of information are generally not disclosed for the safety of the officers who have to use these tactics and policies. Just as an example, lets say your policy said that your team would never serve a warrant on a house with guard dogs (which of course isn't the case, but I am trying to come up with an example that doesn't make me violate OUR policy by releasing sensitive information). If that became common knowledge, then every bad guy in town would get a couple of guard dogs and you could never serve any warrants. As far as making sure you get the right location, that is usually a part of the planning process, which will probably be defined in policy. Generally, more than one person, particularly the persons who lead the mission, will physically observe the location prior to the mission. One of the persons responsible for the warrant will be involved in the planning process, and other officers who have been there (lets say they took a theft report there two years ago or handled a disturbance) will be spoken with before the mission to get their insights on the floor plan, environmental hazards and so forth. I even worked one where one of our officer had actually lived in a rental property that we were serving a warrant on, and gave a detailed floor plan. All of these procedures serve to double-and triple-check the target location to make sure it is the right one, and that the persons doing the mission know where they are going. Everyone involved will get a chance to see pictures or public available surveys. All available information will be given to the team in a detailed briefing prior to execution of the mission. I really can't go into further details without (again) getting into stuff I shouldn't talk about. Additionally, there are also very strict requirements (at least in some states) for describing the property to be searched in exacting detail in the probable cause affidavit (since the legislators did this, it may be proof that they are not always morons). This will generally include: 1) The exact physical address, or approximate and map coordinates if no address exists; 2) Description of the building to include color, size, number of floors, material constructed from, windows, location of doors, gargaes and anything else that distinguishes it from the house next door; 3) The owner of the house or property or the primary and secondary lessees; 4) Any other known persons who have legal access to the property; 5) Vehicles on the property. Any professional tactical unit will do all of these things, and more, and probably has them written into policy, procedure, unit plans or has it otherwise ccovered. In fact, for liability reasons, they had BETTER have it written down and had better go by it every time, because agencies get sued all of the time when they haven't done anything wrong. ANy professional tactical will do all of these things and more. An unprofessional unit will not, and I think that we are all agreed that unprofessional units are a problem.
Link Posted: 1/28/2002 12:48:02 PM EDT
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