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SWAT has no culture of violence, LAPD finds

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LAPD’s SWAT unit rarely resorts to the use of force, nor does it glorify violence as claimed by one of its former members, a newly released internal report concludes.

Police Chief Michelle Moore has produced a report examining all incidents over the past decade in which specially trained platoon teams have been deployed amid allegations of misconduct. Moore has previously said the review aimed to determine “whether there are potential problems or patterns in the way the unit uses force”.

Earlier this year, The Times reported that a member of the unit told other SWAT officers, “Have a nice hunt,” before the police shooting occurred. The former SWAT member also claimed in the lawsuit that an influential group of officers known as the “SWAT Mafia” encouraged violence within the unit.

In filing a report with the Civilian Police Commission that oversees the department, Deputy Chief David Kowalski said the “happy hunt” comment was a troubling but isolated incident.

The commission’s chairman, William Briggs, put pressure on law enforcement officials about whether their investigation revealed the existence of a “clique” of officers resembling a gang-like group of agents operating within the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. I hung

“We are here as LAPD directors.

Kowalski said there was nothing to suggest the existence of the SWAT Mafia.

“I think we expect more from SWAT officers because of the national and perhaps global attention LAPD SWAT brings,” he said. “I am satisfied with the results of the survey.”

The report found that SWAT officers did not use force in 1,245 of the 1,350 incidents they responded to between 2012 and 2022. Short for Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT members are typically called into difficult situations involving hostages, barricade suspects, active shooters, and more. They also often issue high-risk search warrants.

In approximately 6% of incidents, the most common type of force used by SWAT officers was ‘non-category’ and the LAPD reported cases where force did not lead to hospitalization of the person, and attacks on the head or neck. Used when not accompanied by In his decade, SWAT personnel were involved in 20 shootings on his duty, and in 2017 he had four, the report reveals.

At the same time, the report showed that the number of SWAT deployments has increased in recent years, rising from 90 in 2019 to 129 in 2021. This he had 73 deployments by June, the review found.

Moore told the commission that at least part of the reason for the increase was the recent increase in violent crime.

At a committee meeting on Tuesday, he and other divisional leaders said the report found that SWAT members today use force less frequently than in previous decades, and that troops use more force than in previous decades. He claimed that it showed that he was working with restraint and precision.

“Is there room for improvement? Yes, whenever there is power, whenever there is a loss of life, there is always room for improvement,” Deputy Chief Al Labrada said at the meeting.

Officials have acknowledged changes to policies and other safeguards, including the adoption of body cameras, the assignment of police psychologists to intervene in all crisis negotiation situations, and a review of how officers are recruited to units. The unit also worked with the Office of Constitutional Police Policy to take steps to carry out search warrants after the death of black woman Breonna Taylor of her Kentucky home in 2020 without warning by police. I reviewed it.

According to the report, prior to 2008, the process by which SWAT officers were selected “tended to underestimate negotiation skills, perseverance, empathy and flexibility, and overemphasize physical prowess and tactical acumen.” It is said that

In the three cases reviewed in the report, officers were injured during operations. The investigation also points to his seven incidents in which a SWAT member did not use lethal force after being shot at by a suspect.

Five police officers were each involved in three shootings, according to the report. Two of these officers were present at the incident in which a SWAT member made a “fun hunt” comment as he prepared to confront the suspect at the barricade.

The officer who made the comment has not yet been named. An internal investigation into the remarks is ongoing.

The comment was discovered by a commanding officer who was reviewing body camera video of the incident.

Hamid Khan of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition sees the impact of what the agency said was increasing its reliance on SWAT for “low-level crime” and other situations that do not require a heavily armed police response. He criticized the report for failing to do so. As an example, the military’s array of robots and drones has been used to monitor protests and traffic jams.

“The whole idea of ​​mission creep and how it expands over time is very evident in how SWAT has been used,” Khan said. “This is where Doublespeak comes in. On the one hand, they claim: [use of force] It’s declining…just expanding the role of these tactical units into everyday incidents like traffic, protests and rallies,” he said.