Here is an interesting website that logs the location and type of SWAT team errors. There are 352 incidents on this map, 44 of which resulted in death of an innocent, 30 deaths of police officers, and 23 deaths of nonviolent offenders.
You may remember that once upon a time, in this country, the police had to have a warrant, and serve it, to gain access to your home without your consent. They could not knock down your door in the middle of the night, put you in handcuffs, point guns at you and your family, and drag you out of your house without warning.
But now-a-days they can. It happened again recently in Longview, Texas.
Apparently without any sort of recompense to the innocent victims, short of a lawsuit; and apparently without any penalty to the offending SWAT team. So far, anyhow, in this case.
One of these innocent victims, in this case, had a gun pointed at his head! And he was told not to look at the police officer! If this had been my home, there is a good possibility that a police officer, or myself, might have gotten shot. Of course, they wear body armor. In Texas, you have the legal right to defend yourself in a home invasion with lethal force. And anybody can shout “Police!” as they kick in your door. The potential for a tragedy is high, and it has happened many times, as you will see if you explore that first link, above.
The law was changed based on the premise that drug dealers could dispose of their wares if they had time to flush the toilets before opening the doors for the cops. So the police wanted the ability to enter your home without warning. The problem here, of course, is that inevitably, sometimes mistakes are made.
Now, I have to say that generally I think SWAT teams are a great idea for some situations, and I personally know at least one member, who is a very nice guy. Individually, the police and SWAT team members are, I think, mostly very dedicated people doing a very difficult job against sometimes overwhelming odds.
BUT, the very fact that this situation can happen means that one of our most fundamental rights has been given away – the right to consider our homes inviolate without very good reason. I think we need to get our rights back. I would rather the druggies have the opportunity to dump the evidence rather than take a chance that some well meaning SWAT team might treat me and my family this way.
The correct role of government – especially law enforcement – is to err on the side of caution.