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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Report Calls for LAPD SWAT Team Overhaul

From latimes.com: A panel of law enforcement experts convened by Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton to examine the department's elite SWAT unit concluded in an undisclosed report that the rigorous testing to get into the unit should be changed to make it more open to women, called for tighter supervision and criticized officers for relying too heavily on force over negotiations.

Those conclusions and others, included in a draft of the panel's confidential report obtained by The Times, have deeply angered several Special Weapons and Tactics Team members, who say the changes -- some of which already have been imposed -- are misguided and will probably weaken the specialized unit that is charged with handling hostage situations and other high-risk operations.

"This is a recipe for disaster," said a SWAT officer who has served in the unit for more than a decade. "We don't get to back up and do things over. . . . These changes are going to put us and the public in danger."

Several current SWAT officers and one former team member who were interviewed for this report all spoke on condition that their names not be used, out of fear that they would face retaliation by superiors. In an agency that rarely, if ever, deals publicly with internal turmoil, the report exposes a growing rift between Bratton and the department's most storied group of officers. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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