Yesterday, the ACLU released a report on the rise of heavily armed Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in cities and towns across America. War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing is based on a year-long investigation into state and local law enforcement agencies, and includes the first-ever publicly-available statistical analysis of raw police data on the use of paramilitary weapons and tactics to conduct domestic policing.
Our investigation gave us data to corroborate a trend we have been noticing nationwide: American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized, in large part through federal programs that have armed state and local law enforcement agencies with the weaponsand tactics of war, with almost no public discussion or oversight.
Using these federal funds, state and local law enforcement agencies have amassed military arsenals purportedly to wage the failed War on Drugs, the battlegrounds of which have disproportionately been in communities of color. But these arsenals are by no means free of cost for communities. Instead, the use of hyper-aggressive tools and tactics results in tragedy for civilians and police officers, escalates the risk of needless violence, destroys property, and undermines individual liberties.