The ACLU has voiced concerns about the militarization of civilian police and released a report on the topic this week.
You may remember from our report in February that the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office had an armored personnel carrier, and several small town police departments in our area had automatic weapons originally designed for the battlefield.
The ACLU researched 800 SWAT raids conducted in 20 states, including North Carolina, and found that overwhelmingly police are not using SWAT teams for extreme emergencies like hostage standoffs, but instead deploying these heavily armed teams for routine assignments like serving warrants or searching for a small amount of drugs.
The ACLU insists that using these military-style teams and equipment increases the odds of a situation turning hostile or violent, and cited multiple tragedies caused when police carried out SWAT raids, including a 26-year-old mother shot with her child in her arms, and a 19-month-old baby critically injured when a flash bang grenade landed in his crib.
The director of the ACLU in North Carolina is calling for more transparency about military grade equipment acquired by civilian police, and also called on the state legislature and municipalities to develop criteria that would limit SWAT team deployment to true emergencies.
Local police we talked to say they are already careful about when they deploy their SWAT teams. Such a team was deployed just yesterday in Wilmington's Mayfaire community, when a Wilmington Police Officer threatening suicide barricaded himself inside an apartment. That situation ended peacefully.
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