This may just be ignorance on my part, but there seems to be a fair amount of variation in the way these teams are used. For example, last week was the 30 year anniversary of a terrible hostage situation in Rochester. A deranged man shot his parents and another man at his home and then walked down the street to a local bank and took hostages. Here’s how it ended:
“Our sniper who took this guy out,” John Strong a now retired veteran of the Rochester Police SWAT Team said. “He saved more innocent lives that day than you’ll ever know.”
The incident ended when a sharpshooter fired through a bank window from his position across the street in a church window. He struck and killed Griffin moments after Griffin shot and killed a hostage in front of the bank’s side door.
To this day Faggiano [another policeman] and Strong say that one shot represents the only bullet the Rochester SWAT team has ever fired in a combat situation.
There are plenty of drug arrests in Rochester, and there have been incidents of questionable shootings during those arrests. But apparently the SWAT teams at least have kept their powder dry, if they were involved at all, if they’ve only fired one shot in 30 years. Yet other jurisdictions deploy paramilitary police regularly for what sound like fairly routine raids and warrants, and those cops tend to fire their weapons with terrible results. Do any of you guys know if the standards for deploying paramilitary police are really this scattershot, or am I just drawing conclusions from a few anecdotes?