An altercation between siblings resulted in a massive SWAT response this week in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.
According to reports, police were alerted to the area after an unidentified male suspect hit his sister with a boat paddle following a lengthy dispute.
Upon arriving at the scene, police say the man refused to speak, causing a SWAT team to be deployed outside the home.
With tensions considerably hightened, SWAT officers spent several hours demanding the man surrender.
SWAT officers responded to the man’s silence with a raid on the residence, resulting in his arrest.
Reportedly, the suspect was eventually taken to the King County Jail for questioning.
After news of the incident became public, several critics of the increased militarization of law enforcement took to social media to voice their concern.
Radley Balko, Washington Post writer and author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop,” tweeted a Seattle crime blog detailing the incident.
“Man draws SWAT response after hitting sister with boat paddle” http://t.co/kBMEtwrLAd
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) August 15, 2014
Others saw the response as justified, saying a potential domestic abuse situation warranted such a reaction from police.
@radleybalko The key is he was barricaded not the paddle. SPD policy, like others, probably requires swat because they are trained for this. — Walter Katz (@walterwkatz) August 15, 2014
Phil Mocek, a civil liberties advocate with the Seattle Privacy Coalition, pointed to a recent interview with Seattle Police Department spokesman Sean Whitcomb, where it was alleged that police would only use SWAT teams with armored vehicles for calls such as an active shooter.
“Its purpose, according to Whitcomb, is to get safely to and from places like active shooting scenes. SWAT deployment is ‘specific’ and ‘targeted,’” the interview in The Stranger Newspaper stated. “That is something that would only be brought out in situations where it’s required… like a campus shooting or a mall shooting…”
While the situation very well may have required a heavy response, police use of military equipment is coming under increased scrutiny, especially in light of the recent news in Ferguson, MO., where peaceful protesters and journalists were brutally attacked by heavily armored SWAT teams.
According to a recent ACLU investigation entitled “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing,” the federal government has given more than $4.3 billion worth of military hardware to law enforcement agencies during the last two decades, with more $450 million worth in 2013 alone.
An increase in military equipment has also brought an increase in SWAT raids. Once reserved for active shooters and hostage situations, militarized raids are now even used on organic farmers.
The debate over what a proper police response is to an assortment of situations will undoubtedly continue as the issue receives increased interest from the public.
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