A Good Use of a SWAT Team

During a recent hostage/shooting situation in a Chicago law firm a SWAT team did the job that such units were originally created for: killing a rampaging psycho who is a danger not only to himself, but those around him.

Armed with the revolver, as well as a knife and hammer he hid in a manilla envelope, the gunman locked the office door using a chain and a padlock, and demanded to see lawyer Michael R. McKenna, a 58-year-old Edgewater patent attorney who rented space from the firm.

Angry over what he thought was the theft of what a source called “a toilet seat in a truck,’’ the gunman was quickly met by McKenna and McKenna’s longtime assistant, Ruth Zak Leib.

The gunman, identified by police Saturday as Joe Jackson, 59, of the 5900 block of West Chicago, fatally shot McKenna and shot Leib in the foot.

Jackson then walked down a hallway where he killed Allen J. Hoover, 65, of Wilmette, a partner at Wood Phillips, and North Sider Paul Goodson, 78, a retired school teacher who worked for the law firm in the afternoons, distributing mail and handling deliveries.

Jackson then reloaded and forced a hostage to the floor, alternately pointing the revolver at the law firm employee and at his own temple as the hostage tried to talk the gunman out of shooting anyone else, police said.

Arriving through a back door, a police SWAT sharpshooter aimed and fired. A second police sharpshooter also shot the gunman. Jackson was hit once in the head and once in the chest. Both sharpshooters had permission from their supervisors to fire.

“When we have an active shooting — somebody in the process of shooting people — we don’t negotiate,’’ Police Supt. Phil Cline said. “We try to take them out and that’s what we did tonight.’’

Cline earlier told reporters, “There [were] at least another 25 to 30 people on that floor and I think the Chicago Police officers and SWAT saved those people’s lives.’’

This is what SWAT teams should be used for. Non-violent and non-threatening individuals should not be the target of SWAT teams. Even if there is a possibility of losing evidence, generally the safety of human life should outweigh this consideration, in my view. Pictures like this are simply ridiculous.

Via Radley Balko.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, , ,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.

Comments

  1. Original Article syndicated via RSS from Outside The Beltway | OTB

  2. kelle0888 says:

    The picture is not as ridiculous as it looks. I assume this picture was taken after a drug raid on a home. Some people are not beyond placing their “wares” on children. I’ve known of several officers whos have checked the diapers of children for drugs and found them. Also, the team is responsible for the welfare of all individuals inside of the house (anti-swaters, place snarky comment here) after the raid. Swat teams have their place in policing-although in a limited fashion.

  3. Steve Verdon says:

    The picture is not as ridiculous as it looks. I assume this picture was taken after a drug raid on a home. Some people are not beyond placing their “wares” on children.

    Uhh, in case you are not up to date on these modern contrivances, that thing in front of the kid is a toilet. He is going, pee, not being searched. Having a machine gun toting SWAT team member guard a 4/5 year old while he pees is ridiculous.

    Also, the team is responsible for the welfare of all individuals inside of the house (anti-swaters, place snarky comment here) after the raid.

    Gladly! So, storming a house with machine guns and flashbang grenades is how you keep non-violent offenders safe? I’m sorry, I just don’t believe that.

    Swat teams have their place in policing-although in a limited fashion.

    The only glitch here is that SWAT teams are used extensively to serve warrants, even warrants on non-violent suspects with no criminal records.

  4. kelle0888 says:

    Gee , thanks for pointing out that toilet thing out. That aside, one can only search the property, person or person(s) named in the warrant. Unless this minor is named, he cannot be searched. In theory. Also, one does not let one, 4-5 years old or not, walk around a crime scene. Yes, it looks ridiculous. Probably proper procedure though.
    In my hometown, CRT teams (community response teams) are used in war rent work (they do wear vests, but aren’t armed with automatic weapons). The swat team hits the houses with known violent criminals. Have they made mistakes? Yes. I will not deny that–however they’ve taken down some bad people also.
    Sorry, I’m a little bit biased. Too many LEO’s in my family. Thank you for letting me use this forum.

  5. Boyd says:

    Unless this minor is named, he cannot be searched.

    My understanding is that this isn’t true everywhere. I recall a recent drug raid where the warrant included everyone in the house. They did this so that they could search any children that those “paragons of parenthood” might use to hide their drugs.

  6. legion says:

    Uhh, in case you are not up to date on these modern contrivances, that thing in front of the kid is a toilet. He is going, pee, not being searched. Having a machine gun toting SWAT team member guard a 4/5 year old while he pees is ridiculous.

    While I usually agree completely with you on these issues, Steve, I’m not so sure on this one. If someone’s going to train their kid to be a mule/portable stash, it seems likely that they would also teach them to ditch the evidence ASAP when the cops show. Sure, a heavily-armed SWAT type isn’t the _best_ use of manpower to make sure that doesn’t happen, but he may have been the only guy available when the call of nature came down…

  7. Steve Verdon says:

    Gee , thanks for pointing out that toilet thing out. That aside, one can only search the property, person or person(s) named in the warrant. Unless this minor is named, he cannot be searched.

    You brought it up, not me.

    In my hometown, CRT teams (community response teams) are used in war rent work (they do wear vests, but aren’t armed with automatic weapons). The swat team hits the houses with known violent criminals. Have they made mistakes? Yes. I will not deny that—however they’ve taken down some bad people also.

    And how many of those mistakes were stupid mistakes such as not double checking the address?

    While I usually agree completely with you on these issues, Steve, I’m not so sure on this one. If someone’s going to train their kid to be a mule/portable stash, it seems likely that they would also teach them to ditch the evidence ASAP when the cops show.

    The problem is using SWAT to prevent the destruction of evidence. I just don’t think it is worth the risks.

    Sure, a heavily-armed SWAT type isn’t the _best_ use of manpower to make sure that doesn’t happen, but he may have been the only guy available when the call of nature came down…

    In reading the caption for the picture, my guess is they found nothing at the house. Usually when they find something they trumpet it to all and sundry. Here, there is the rather disturbing quote about “sending a hard message”. If sending a “hard message” is important, then why not simply do raids on random residences? Its bullshit.

  8. legion says:

    Here, there is the rather disturbing quote about “sending a hard message”. If sending a “hard message” is important, then why not simply do raids on random residences? Its bullshit.

    Yup. _That_ I’m with you all the way on. The casual indifference towards the use of power and the impact (psychological, economical, societal, etc) it has on ‘regular people’ can be very frightening…