Continuing to Extend the Use of SWAT Teams
Originally, police departments (especially, and most famously, the LAPD) formed SWAT teams to deal with violent, dangerous situations, such as hostage situations. I remember watching SWAT in the ’70s. They never showed the SWAT guys serving drug and gambling warrants, just dealing with really bad situations where innocent people were at risk of losing their life in violent criminal situations. And they certainly never showed the SWAT team showing up when a guy threatened to take his own life and no one else’s life was at risk.
Trevor Bothwell, of Who’s Your Nanny? brings us a story of SWAT intervention in a suicide attempt. Naturally, the suicide attempt ends with the death of the person threatening suicide, CPL James Dean, an Army Reservist. When Dean’s family called the police because he was threatening suicide, the police sent SWAT teams, according to a local news report:
Lawmen said this week that they did what they could to peacefully resolve the overnight confrontation off Brown Road in Hollywood. They said it ended shortly after noon on Tuesday when Dean raised a gun at approaching officers. A police sharpshooter fired once, killing him.
The next day, quiet had returned to Dusty Lane, which leads to the Dean family’s three homes on cleared land surrounded by woods. James Dean, who turned 29 last weekend, and his wife, Muriel, married last August and had their own home in the Hollywood Shores community, but police report he had gone to his parents’ home on Christmas night. He was alone there when family members called authorities from elsewhere shortly before 10 p.m. for them to check on his welfare.
So, apparently, when someone is home alone, and not threatening harm to anyone else’s life, liberty or property, the appropriate response is to send para-military police out, including armored vehicles (see these photos), engage in a half day stand off with the individual, create a violent confrontation, and then kill the individual with sniper fire.
Is there anyone besides me that finds this to be a bit of an over reaction? Anyone else think that maybe Dean didn’t have to die by the gun of a police officer? Anyone find it odd that we now use SWAT teams to serve warrants and intervene in suicide attempts?