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I've seen following claims made by pro-legalization lobby:

  • SWATs are used more often for drug warrants than to deal with any violent crimes
  • most of these warrants are for marijuana
  • significant number of people are killed during these SWAT raids

How true are these claims?

As for reference, some of such claims are contained in this article by Gawker: "SWAT Team Raids House, Shoots Dogs over 'Small Amount of Marijuana'":

As Balko points out, there are as many as 100 of these terrifying paramilitary raids per day in the U.S., conducted under the aegis of "the war on drugs," theoretically targeting drug traffickers and other "enemies." Some of the raids turn up significant amounts of illegal substances; others turn up even less than the "small amount of marijuana" the police were able to find at Whitworth's house. Many wind up targeted innocent people. This map of "botched raids" gives some indication of the disturbing frequency not just of the operations themselves, but the mistakes, often fatal, that occur during their execution.


To address some of the doubts expressed in the comments:

  • definition of violent crime (according to FBI UCR): "composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force." (source)
  • as for significant number of people killed: comparison with number of people killed by criminals in home invasions would be great.

I've seen following claims made by pro-legalization lobby:

  • SWATs are used more often for drug warrants than to deal with any violent crimes
  • most of these warrants are for marijuana
  • significant number of people are killed during these SWAT raids

How true are these claims?

As for reference, some of such claims are contained in this article by Gawker: "SWAT Team Raids House, Shoots Dogs over 'Small Amount of Marijuana'":

As Balko points out, there are as many as 100 of these terrifying paramilitary raids per day in the U.S., conducted under the aegis of "the war on drugs," theoretically targeting drug traffickers and other "enemies." Some of the raids turn up significant amounts of illegal substances; others turn up even less than the "small amount of marijuana" the police were able to find at Whitworth's house. Many wind up targeted innocent people. This map of "botched raids" gives some indication of the disturbing frequency not just of the operations themselves, but the mistakes, often fatal, that occur during their execution.

I've seen following claims made by pro-legalization lobby:

  • SWATs are used more often for drug warrants than to deal with any violent crimes
  • most of these warrants are for marijuana
  • significant number of people are killed during these SWAT raids

How true are these claims?

As for reference, some of such claims are contained in this article by Gawker: "SWAT Team Raids House, Shoots Dogs over 'Small Amount of Marijuana'":

As Balko points out, there are as many as 100 of these terrifying paramilitary raids per day in the U.S., conducted under the aegis of "the war on drugs," theoretically targeting drug traffickers and other "enemies." Some of the raids turn up significant amounts of illegal substances; others turn up even less than the "small amount of marijuana" the police were able to find at Whitworth's house. Many wind up targeted innocent people. This map of "botched raids" gives some indication of the disturbing frequency not just of the operations themselves, but the mistakes, often fatal, that occur during their execution.


To address some of the doubts expressed in the comments:

  • definition of violent crime (according to FBI UCR): "composed of four offenses: murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force." (source)
  • as for significant number of people killed: comparison with number of people killed by criminals in home invasions would be great.
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Are SWATs in the US mostly used for serving marijuana warrants?

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