Magazine | November 17, 2014, Issue

Letters

The Inherent Danger of SWAT Teams

Regarding Jay Nordlinger’s piece “A Job Like No Other” (September 22): I certainly sympathize with the police in general. It’s a necessary and difficult job. The problem is that, owing in part to the “war on drugs,” many police departments have become “militarized,” by which I mean not that they use military equipment (in itself questionable) so much as that they use military tactics. Take SWAT teams, for example. There certainly are times when a SWAT-team approach — entering a home unannounced, often in the small hours of the morning, with guns drawn and killing pet dogs as a matter of course — is justified and necessary. But as in the old saw that “when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” some police departments are making far too much use of SWAT tactics; we read about SWAT teams’ being used as process servers, and of raids (sometimes with fatal results) on the wrong address. These stories are far more common than they should be. The prank (or payback?) tactic of “SWATting” someone — making an anonymous 911 call that sends a SWAT team to the victim’s address, resulting in unannounced, forceful entry and potential danger to innocent people from tense police and frightened residents — makes matters worse. Unfortunately, some police departments react with SWAT tactics before checking to see whether those tactics are justified or making sure that they have the correct address, etc.

Good, careful police work would make many SWAT raids unnecessary. In my opinion, the risks of accidental and collateral damage are too great to recommend the current frequent use of SWAT tactics. The bad publicity generated from this approach to law enforcement does not improve the public’s opinion of the police.

Brooks Lyman

West Groton, Mass.

Corrections: In “Forget the Alamo” (October 20), William Barret Travis’s name was misspelled as “William Barrett Travis.” In “The Week” (November 3) Wendy Davis was said to be in a “Texas Senate race,” when in fact she is running for governor of Texas.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Jurassic Cards

The business card seems to be surviving the speedy displacement and long death of print media, but nobody knows exactly why. Already a relic before the 20th century began, an ...
Politics & Policy

The Ike Theme Park

After a federal planning board rejected his unpopular design last spring, architect Frank Gehry downsized his proposed national memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C. In October, both the ...

Features

Politics & Policy

Empty Integrity

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “integrity” in part as “soundness of moral principle; the character of uncorrupted virtue, esp. in relation to truth and fair dealing; uprightness, honesty, sincerity.” This ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Country Life

In a Dry Season

The mountains upstate are the tap, the fire hydrant, the wellhead for the city. Decades ago the thirsty megalopolis bought land to serve as gigantic offsite gutters and rain barrels. ...
Politics & Policy

A Vanished Breed

‘Republican in name only,” “country-club Republican,” “establishment Republican”: These are the terms grassroots conservatives use to attack their moderate Republican opponents, whom they consider “squishes” and elitists — people who ...
Politics & Policy

Touched by the Divine

Someone who wants to understand why conservative Protestants don’t vacate the public square now that their kind of religion seems to have been so completely routed — can anyone think ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

The Inherent Danger of SWAT Teams Regarding Jay Nordlinger’s piece “A Job Like No Other” (September 22): I certainly sympathize with the police in general. It’s a necessary and difficult job. ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ President Obama’s credit card was refused. From force of habit, he shut down the Washington Monument. ‐ Two in Canada, one in Queens: The end of October was marked by ...
Athwart

It’s Ineffable

If you wanted to change minds and win hearts about the issues that face women today, of course you’d take cute little girls who embody the sweet joy of innocence ...
The Long View

Memorandum

TO: New-Business Teams, Both Dem and Rep FROM: Media Team RE: Signing up new clients for Campaign Cycle 2016 Hi all . . . As we all digest the midterm results, we’ve got to ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

MORE SPACE An anthropology of space? A Cape May Scenario: porches, hammocks, flags; lawns Without stone ornaments, small windows That are bow-shaped for the sea wind, Mail boxes with salt-air-withered signs, The pavements narrow enough for ...

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Real Reason for That Kavanaugh Smear

The New York Times on Saturday joined The New Yorker and many other media outlets in upending a dumpster full of garbage on its own reputation in an effort to smear Brett Kavanaugh. After more than a year of digging, the Democrats and their media allies still have no supported allegations of sexual misconduct by ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Yes, They Are Coming for Your Guns

At the Democratic-primary debate in Houston last night, Beto O’Rourke formally killed off one of the gun-control movement’s favorite taunts: The famous “Nobody is coming for your guns, wingnut.” Asked bluntly whether he was proposing confiscation, O’Rourke abandoned the disingenuous euphemisms that have ... Read More