Rolla’s SWAT team, trained as well as any metro team, deals with emergencies as dire as those in any big city, Police Chief Mark Kearse told the Rolla City Council Monday night.
“We deal with everything that everybody else does here in little Rolla,” Kearse said in a presentation about SWAT that he noted the council had requested through City Administrator John Butz.
Hostages, barricades, drug labs, serving of high-risk warrants—all of those potentially lethal situations occur in Rolla, Kearse said.
Fortunately, they don’t happen as often here as they do in Los Angeles, Chicago or other urban settings.
“About two a month” is what Kearse replied in response to a question about the average number of high-risk calls requiring SWAT attention. Some of those responses are outside Rolla in assistance with other agencies.
The team of 16 has received the same training that urban teams receive, he stressed.
That is soooo reassuring. Because we all can feel safe and secure knowing that our SWAT teams in small-town America are modeling their professionalism on the LAPD.
Normally, I think of small town America as “conservative” in some significant sense, and of a national virtual-rag like The Huffington Post as hopelessly liberal.
But the people of Rolla might not be such easy marks for the domestic troops we are placing in our own country if they would (selectively!) read HuffPo. It just published the second of a six-part series by Radley Balko, the author of The Rise of the Warrior Cop.
Former Sheriff William “Dub” Lawrence has watched with dismay as America’s war on drugs has escalated, and SWAT teams have become more aggressive, more militarized, and less focused on resolving disputes peacefully…
In 1975, Lawrence started what would become the Davis County, Utah, SWAT team. The elite tactical units were coming into vogue across the country at the time, after they were introduced in Los Angeles in the 1960s, following the Watts riots and a number of mass shooting incidents.
“We saw what was happening in Los Angeles at the time,” says Lawrence, 69. “We thought we needed something similar if we ever had to face down a shooter, or someone who had taken hostages.”…
In September 2008, however, he watched helplessly as the same SWAT team he helped create over 30 years earlier shot and killed Brian Wood, his 36-year-old son-in-law.
Wood had a history of psychological problems, and he had barricaded himself in his truck with a gun following a domestic dispute. After a 12-hour standoff with police, the SWAT team moved in and shot Wood eight times with a stun gun before finally shooting him as he lay on the ground, an outcome Lawrence criticizes as an overreaction.
“I told my family, I said, ‘These guys are well-trained. You can trust them to talk him down,'” Lawrence recalls. “I then had to explain to my daughter why this team I helped create — had just told her to trust — had just killed her husband.”
Since then, Lawrence has become a leader of Utah’s growing police reform movement…
Reading the local town’s SWAT PR piece next to Balko’s analysis is disturbing. Is there ever going to be a point when the majority gets the message? My fear is that the minority portion of US citizens who see what is going on are going to blog or post Facebook links about outrages to each other while one town after another cheerfully builds up an occupying force within itself.