Tilting at Windmills

March/April 2012 One SWAT too many

By Charles Peters

In another story from my hometown paper, the Gazette reports that a SWAT team from the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office has been found innocent of wrongdoing after its members managed to fire seven bullets into a hostage taker—even though he had released his hostages, they had only negotiated for two hours, and, by the way, he had not fired at them. None of this sounds exactly blameless to me. But more importantly, what on earth is the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office doing with a SWAT team in the first place?

And did you know that some local police departments now have their own drones? This is homeland security gone mad.

Charles Peters is the founding editor of the Washington Monthly and the author of a new book on Lyndon B. Johnson published by Times Books.


  • markg8 on April 02, 2012 6:40 PM:

    Yes it is. We wasted a lot of money in the 2000s - and still do - supplying local law enforcement and fire depts with all kind of money to buy fancy new equipment. In my small suburban Philadelphia town in NJ they acquired a tour bus outfitted with all kinds of communications equipment that I only saw used when it moved about 4 blocks down the street to be some kind of nerve center for law enforcement during the town summer festival. The Fire Chief got a new hot rod Dodge. That's just in one small suburb. Is it any wonder Bush spent more than LBJ?