SWAT Madness and the Militarization of the American Police

A National Dilemma

by Jim Fisher


The facts are disturbing: Every year in the United States, SWAT teams conduct predawn, no-knock raids of at least 50,000 homes looking for drugs. Unfortunately, a substantial percentage of these assaults occur at the wrong addresses. And law-abiding citizens who mistakenly kill SWAT officers thinking they are criminal home invaders often end up on death row.

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Cover image for SWAT Madness and the Militarization of the American Police

September 2010


Pages 290
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Crime/General

With the immediacy of a daily newspaper, this book reveals how the irresponsible use of SWAT teams, shock-and-awe policing, and the increasing militarization of American law enforcement is changing the face of "the land of the free."

In the United States, military-style police enforcement is fast becoming the norm—even the smallest police departments now field costly SWAT units. While the fact that police forces have increased capabilities to deal with urgent or dangerous situations may seem positive, this type of aggressive response is problematic; court settlements regarding excessive SWAT raids cost law enforcement agencies millions of dollars every year, not to mention that these brute-force strategies often traumatize, injure, and kill innocent people.

This book takes an unprecedented look into the realities of zero-tolerance, militaristic policing, the tactics and equipment used, the problematic "crime warrior" mindset at play, and the statistical evidence of its ineffectiveness. The author's professional experience in criminology and scholarly knowledge of the topic enables him to candidly address common concerns about utilizing paramilitary law enforcement and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) units in routine, low-risk police work, such as the general loss of freedom, the often tragic results of excessive force, and the effects on race relations.


  • Provides 30 case studies documenting inappropriate SWAT team deployment


  • Exposes a prevalent American criminal justice problem that is often swept under the rug: excessive police enforcement
  • In the modern context of threatened civil liberties, the subject matter of this text is highly relevant to millions of American citizens worried about oppressive law enforcement
  • Written by a former FBI agent and criminal justice professor who has followed policing trends for 35 years
  • The first book to address the issue of SWAT team overuse
Author Info

Jim Fisher is professor emeritus of criminal justice at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro, PA. A former FBI agent, his published work includes Forensics under Fire: Are Bad Science and Dueling Experts Corrupting Criminal Justice?. He has authored nine books, including two that were nominated for Edgar Allan Poe awards in the "Best Fact Crime" category.



"Fisher ... offers a powerful work that takes up the cause for society and law enforcement to conduct a realistic, rational assessment of the proliferation and expanded use of special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams. ...This very nice scholarly work, well researched and supported with factual, albeit occasionally sarcastic, commentary, is well suited for criminal justice and especially public issues collections. ...Recommended."Choice

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