Massachusetts SWAT teams made headlines last year when they refused to grant a public information request to the ACLU, claiming they were “private companies” and, therefore, exempt from such inquiry. The ACLU subsequently sued, and last month, it received access to the documents it requested. The documents confirm that broad overreach, unnecessary and overblown tactics, and an eagerness to attack are increasingly present in law enforcement establishments around the country.
The NEMLEC, or Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, encompasses multiple SWAT teams across that region of the state. According to the documents it tried to suppress, NEMLEC conducted 79 SWAT raids from August 2012 to June 2014. Though the NEMLEC (along with SWAT teams around the country) claims SWAT teams are only used for “active shooters, armed barricaded subjects, hostage takers, and terrorists,” the data reveals a different story.
Though the NEMLEC touts its operations as reserved for “critical” situations, only one of the 79 incidents actually involved a terrorist attack: SWAT teams were deployed to assist in the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. In that same 2012 to 2014 time period, there were noactive shooter situations, no hostage situations, and only 10 cases of barricaded subjects.
According to The Intercept, half of the remaining cases were for everyday policing activities, including “executing warrants, dealing with expected rioting after a 2013 Red Sox World Series game, and providing security for a Dalai Lama lecture.”