UK cops, guns, & US SWAT teams [Was Re: Elian & guns]
Michael Froomkin - U.Miami School of Law
froomkin at LAW.MIAMI.EDU
Thu Apr 27 10:38:43 PDT 2000
On Thu, 27 Apr 2000, Michael MASINTER wrote:
> We do not live in Great Britain; an unarmed police officer in this nation
> is almost an oxymoron.
It is a little-reported fact that a very substantial fraction of British
police are now armed; if one counts officers who have weapons in their car
but not on their person, I suspect it may even be over half. And that of
course is without counting any of the special and paramilitary forces that
have police-like duties in Northern Ireland, plus other paramilitary and
counter-terrorism forces in England, Wales & Scotland.
The unarmed bobby is getting to be as rare as the traditional English
telephone booth: not extinct, yet, but mostly in touristy areas or in out
of the way places.
Indeed, the (para)militarization of police appears to be a world-wide, and
I personally find the prevalence of SWAT teams in this country to be a
concern. Why is it that even smaller places like Littleton feel a need to
spend on heavy equipment? Is there any reason to believe that creating
aggressive, heavily armed (some have vehicles that look like army APCs or
even tank-like) gung-ho SWAT teams enhances outcomes? The LAPD has stuff
that looks like it could fight a war.
Perhaps more worrying still is the possibility that this is money well
spent in short-run cost-benefit terms. If it is really the case that we
need SWAT teams all over the country to keep order, we seem to have a more
fundamental, dare I say constitutional, problem.
A. Michael Froomkin | Professor of Law | froomkin at law.tm
U. Miami School of Law, P.O. Box 248087, Coral Gables, FL 33124 USA
+1 (305) 284-4285 | +1 (305) 284-6506 (fax) | http://www.law.tm
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