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SWAT and non-SWAT Police Officers and the Use of Force

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 31 Issue: 5 Dated: September/October 2003 Pages: 469-474
Jimmy J. Williams; David Westall
Date Published
September 2003
6 pages
Based on an analysis of the use-of-force data collected from a police department in Glynn County, GA, this study examined whether SWAT and non-SWAT officers used force differently.
The Glynn County Police Department has used SWAT teams since the early 1980's; its team is called a Special Operations Response Team (SORT). The SWAT team consists of part-time officers from various divisions within the department. SWAT officers, therefore, perform the same duties as non-SWAT officers. The use of force by SWAT members acting in a SWAT capacity was not considered in this study, only their use of force in a non-SWAT capacity. Information about the officers' use of force was obtained from the use-of-force reports maintained by the department. These reports had the name, race, and gender of the officer who used force, the date of occurrence, location, time, and type of force used. The report also included a supplemental report from the officer involved. The study theorized that the socialization of SWAT officers might influence them to use force more often than non-SWAT officers when responding to similar situations. The study found, however, that there was no statistically significant difference between the use of force by SWAT officers and non-SWAT officers. This may be due to the strict policies of the department against the unauthorized use of force. Suggestions for future research are offered. 3 tables, 1 figure, and 32 references