SayUncle finds some evidence for why SWAT teams are so predominant these days. I kind of wonder whether there’s not a good bit of wanting to be what you see on TV in law enforcement circles. Years ago, you’d cowboy up to go deal with the local town trouble, not unlike what you would have seen in a TV Western. I can remember as a kid, the ending scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation, where the SWAT team closes in on Clark Griswold, armed with a BB gun. That was supposed to be a joke back then, but I don’t think anyone would get the humor today. It would be interesting to find how much TV culture shapes the law enforcement culture.
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Good article. I wonder how much of the proliferation of SWAT teams has to do with federal funding? I heard a program the other day talking about how the post-9/11 emphasis on terrorism as the #1 priority has created a situation where towns that have always partially funded emergency response teams, like police or fire departments, have had to change the core mission and training of their teams to meet the new requirements of government grants that insist on a focus for terrorism. So, the result is a place that knows it will have tornadoes or floods on a regular basis is spending $ on terrorism drills instead of the more likely scenarios, i.e. natural disaster. I believe the same kind of funding scenarios are driving SWAT development.
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