What Is It Good For?

Joe Doakes from Como Park writes:

Based on initial reporting, which we know is always wrong, but this timetable is for illustrative purposes, not precision:

Shooting occurs at 7:45.

A teacher saw the shooting and chased the gun-wielder, who escaped.

Students started texting their parents about the shooting before 8:00.

Ambulances start to arrive shortly after 8:00

School is locked down and parents are told it’s not safe to enter at 8:21

School evacuated at 8:30

SWAT arrives at 8:45.

Analysis: the school responded promptly and ambulances were there incredibly quickly. The teacher undoubtedly saved lives by chasing the gunman out of the building.

The cops were useless.

Joe Doakes

Como Park

I don’t as a rule bag on cops – but the profusion of SWAT teams will, some day, be seen as one of the worst derivatives of the War on Terror.  While there are definitely times when some extra tactical oomph is needed, often SWAT teams have become budget lines looking to justify themselves; they’ve kept themselves busy serving warrants that regular cops used to serve just fine, without all the shooting of dogs and tearing up of property (occasionally wrong property)…

…and then, as at Columbine, being so hide-bound by procedure that they can’t actually do any “protecting” and “serving”, or much of anything but running around in all their cool battle rattle, frisking and cuffing victims.

The number of SWAT teams has zoomed in recent years.  The question:  at what point are they less a matter of protecting cops, and more one of showing the citizens who’s boss?

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