Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America

(Cato Institute, 2006)

Policy Forum
September 12, 2006 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT


Featuring the author Radley Balko, Policy Analyst, Cato Institute, with comments by Norm Stamper, Seattle Police Chief (Ret.) and author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of Policing.

Over the last 25 years, America has seen a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of SWAT units for routine police work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually with forced, unannounced entry into homes. These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted suspects to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping. In a new Cato Institute white paper, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, policy analyst Radley Balko looks at this disturbing trend in police work and analyzes the drug war incentives that have inspired it.

The Cato Institute gratefully acknowledges the support of the Marijuana Policy Project in making this event possible.