UNC-Charlotte gets its own SWAT team

Why does the University of North Carolina-Charlotte need a SWAT team? "Virginia Tech and Columbine," explains Lieutenant Josh Huffman of Campus Police.

Radley Balko, a journalist who covers the militarization of police, says:

Yes. Virginia Tech and Columbine. Now, let’s look at the numbers: Any given middle school, high school, or college in America can expect to have exactly one homicide on its campus every 12,000 years. So how long before the UNC-Charlotte SWAT team feels the need to justify its existence by expanding its mission? I predict they’re serving drug warrants and raiding frat houses within a year.
Congratulations, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, you now have your very own SWAT team.


  1. SWAT team for a university?  Dude, if they only deploy it when it is really called for, I REALLY want that job.  I wouldn’t even need to go into the office.  I could do that job from home.

    1. The point of course is that they won’t just deploy when “needed”.  None of these units do.  

      Once they’re created, their departments find more and more excuses to use them, and you eventually end up with a bunch of dudes with machine guns driving a tank down to arrest the local stoner.

    2.  They’ll probably interrupt half the UNC-Charlotte college basketball schedule so they can go kick some unattended trash ass.

  2. Oh, joy. Barney Fife S.W.A.T.

    More Carolina swine sewage from the pigshit capital of Earth (that’s not tar on their heels).

      1. Rep Virginia Foxx (R-NC) isn’t very nice… among other things, said on the floor of Congress the murder of Mathew Sheppard was a HOAX.


        Hurricane Floyd… known locally as “The Pig Shit Hurricane” was not very nice either. It’s NC locals name for Hurricane Floyd, not mine. Here’s WHY Hurricane Floyd got called “The Pig Shit Hurricane.”


        If someone thinks I have to making all this up… here’s the facebook page for a new band from New Bern NC who describe themselves as “a folk-punk trio based out of New Bern, North Carolina.
        Guitars, banjo, djembe, and three kids screaming about life. What’s not to like?” The name?

        Pig Shit Hurricane





        Check ’em out. They’re pretty good :)

          1. Not hardly. Raised in Richmond by single mother disabled w/ MS. Her only sibling’s husband was a chemical engineer for DuPont there. My grandmother moved in to help when we got there.

        1. I’m NC born and raised, and I have never heard of Hurricane Floyd being called “pig shit hurricane.” And while Virginia Foxx IS a douche canoe, not every North Carolinian is. Thank you for generalizing us as backward, shit-smelling, ne’er-do-wells.

        2. I’ve lived here twenty years and was in Wilmington for Floyd (and Fran, Bertha, Bonnie, etc.) and never heard that nickname. Although it does make sense, as the flooding of the hog waste lagoons in the eastern part of the state was a serious problem.

          1. I agree that it does make sense, I read about the hog farms in the news during Floyd.

            I just take issue with generalizing all of us as having a Mayberry/antiquated mindset, and calling NC/Charlotte the pigshit capitol of the world. There are plenty of open-minded/non-judgemental, educated, and nice Carolinians (that DIDN’T vote for Foxx or Strom Thurmond incarnations).

            (Thurmond was from SC, but still tainted many perspectives of NCians as bigoted backwoods hicks)

  3. So how long before the UNC-Charlotte SWAT team feels the need to justify its existence by expanding its mission?

    The answer to this question conclusively wraps up the debate.

    Outfitted with (very expensive tuition-funded) fully automatic weapons, body armor, pepper spray and tasers these mustachioed “public servants” will start booking overtime daily in the very near future as they throw student after (male) student to the pavement and kick in doors in the (male) dorms at 5AM.

    (They know better than to target female students as that would put them out of business in a matter of hours)

    How long has it been since the UC Davis pepper spray incident?  Ten weeks?   People are actually going to support this?

    1. Yes because there is a large segment of American society that has a deep seated resentment towards intellectuals.

  4. I was a student at UNC-Charlotte from 2004-2006, and I’m very sad to hear about this development. Unless things have changed drastically since I was there, there’s clearly no need for a SWAT team. There’s already a patrolling police force. There’s already Charlotte PD SWAT available in the extremely unlikely event that they might be needed.
    What a shame. What a power grab. What a *liability*

  5. There’s a part of me that really, really wants to see raid after raid of frat houses. This isn’t a good idea, but I have to be honest — seeing a bunch of guys in Ed Hardy face down with zip ties cuffing them gives me a sense of validation.

    But no, this shouldn’t be happening. I just… I’m torn.

    1. There’s a part of me that really, really wants to see raid after raid of frat houses.

      I’m pretty sure that you can find plenty of videos with that theme.

    2. I guarantee that fraternity row will be the one place completely safe from UNC-SWAT.  They’re just boys being boys, after all.  Also, their daddies would not be amused.

  6. You know – I have a theory: these guys just want to play with toys. You can’t buy a REAL MP-5 with out dropping some serious cash (10K+, IIRC). You can’t buy a full auto AR-15 with out some serious cash. And if you buy one of these, often times they are older versions with out all the new bells and whistles.

    But if you’re a cop and get approval from the higher ups, you can buy an AR-15 or MP-5 or what ever at retail prices. Very affordable. Why not make a SWAT unit to justify the hardware – maybe even get the city/school to pay for guns and ammo?

    I am not being flippant. The last ticket I got was for expired tag in a city so small in the KC Metro area, that I thought it was the name of a sub division – not an actual city. So this cop is wearing what was at least a $300 tactical vest. The bulletproof vest underneath makes it even more expensive.  For WHAT? Writing tickets to fund the city for the poor schmucks who make a mistake of driving through it?

    Not all cops are assholes. Not all cops are “gun guys”. MANY cops I can out shoot one handed – as they just barely pass their fire arms tests they have to take every year. But there are asshole gun guys making SWAT teams where there simply are not crimes to warrant them. If we abolished drug laws, I dare say we would almost never need them.

    There would be a way to bring down the prices for ‘civilians’, but I don’t want to get tooo far OT.

    1.  I hope they’re not stupid enough to let these idiots blow up every package left unattended on the UNCC campus. There won’t be any campus left in 2 years.

    2. “MANY cops I can out shoot one handed – as they just barely pass their fire arms tests they have to take every year.”  

      I had that experience firsthand once.  I was on the next lane over from a cop taking his test, and he had trouble hitting a silhouette target at 7 yards, even when given all the time he wanted to line up his shots.  I couldn’t believe it.  I say “shit” if I don’t hit the 10 ring at that distance.  

      Eventually the cop eked out a barely passing score (after repeated mulligans), and left.  I talked to the examiner a while.  He said he sees this all the time.  The cop’s expensive Sig Sauer was useless to him; might as well have been a cap gun. We both shook our heads.

      Oh, and then he told me, “I was watching you too.  YOU definitely pass.”  That was kind of nice.  But on the other hand it’s apparently not a very high bar.

      1. Yeah – its fucking sad. I had one guy who couldn’t hit shit at a local pin shoot. He had a good excuse – he shot right handed and was left eye dominant, so he was trying to shoot with his left hand. I wonder if the cop was left eye dominant and had no idea about it – though in practical shooting you keep both eyes open. The other thing is some Sig Saurs are DAO, double action only – which makes their triggers harder to pull and more likely to pull one off target.

        Still – shit – 7 yards and I could shoot blindfolded and at least hit the target centermass. And I am really very average.

        Some cops see a gun as little more than a tool like a flashlight and are about as skilled with one. There are some amazing police shooters – and there are some who are more dangerous with one :o/

      2. That is utterly scary, that guy has no right to be a leo.  When I took my CPL class I did palm sized groupings with a 9mm and .40 , and CD sized groupings with my friend’s 10mm. Previous experience was a .22lr and a .300WinMag, both of which I hadn’t used in over a year.

        I sincerly hope that guy changed career paths and got out of law enforcement.

    3. You have no idea how close you are to the truth.  There was more than a little scandal in Texas a while back when it was discovered that Municipal Utility Districts (MUDs) were operating that shouldn’t exist.  A MUD is set up by a real estate developer to provide services to a housing development that’s too far out to hook into existing services.  Basically, they’re they guys who make sure there’s a water tank, some fire hydrants, and places for new construction to tap into the supply.  They’re also responsible for maintaining and guarding the facilities.  To that end, the legislature gave them the authority to set up their own police forces, essentially on-staff security but with actual sworn officers.  It’s reasonable to want a small force like that in case you catch someone vandalizing the infrastructure, e.g. stealing valves, something that can be very lucrative.  Immediate arrest authority in those cases is a reasonable thing to have.

      HOWEVER, it turned out that there were a number of completely failed subdivisions with active MUDs.  There was no infrastructure to protect; just a few acres that someone had tried to develop into a subdivison and gone bankrupt.  But the MUD had been created and the legal “police” agency existed on paper.

      Some guys got the bright idea of buying up these bankrupt corps for next to nothing.  By doing so, they bought themselves their very own police force.  They set the hiring standards low, hired themselves, and could then bypass all the federal paperwork to buy all the toys they wanted.  Automatic weapons, destructive devices, you name it.  All they had to do was send in a purchase order on “official” stationery.  And because they were law enforcement, they didn’t have to pay normal retail (which has been climbing through the stratosphere since new production for civilian sales was outlawed in 1986).  Instead of spending $30K for an old, used but “fully transferable” submachine gun, they could spend $3K for a brand new “LE-restricted, post-’86” automatic weapon.

      The legislature found out and cracked down but they had quite a scam going for quite a while.

      1. Hah – I have to admire the ingenuity. Another trick – while expensive – is to set yourself up as a manufacturer, and you can make almost anything you want. You just can’t sell them except to LEO/Military. This is why you have shows like Son of Guns who can make all the toys.

         The ’86 law needs repealed. It was put in as a “poison pill” and swallowed. It does nothing to stop crime – all it means is the rich get the fun toys that the other 95% can just dream about. :o/

        1. Have you ever seen the video of the final vote on the ’86 ban?  It was done by voice. 

          “All in favor say aye.”

          “Aye” rather lackluster, medium volume, clearly a minority.

          “All opposed say nay.”

          “Nay” booming, loud, from all over the chamber, clearly a majority.

          “The ayes have it” without a pause or a look up.

          There was some screaming at that point, a little gavel-pounding, and the next order of business was brought to the floor.   The fix was in from the beginning. 

          As insane as some of the choices are, I’d vote for any candidate for President if they could reasonably guarantee repeal the ’86 law and an end to the ban on basic safety equipment (hearing protection devices) for firearms.  Of course, I know that no President can do that but I can dream.

          1. Depending what state you live in, your fire arm can have its own external hearing protection device. The $200 tax on it is from the old NFA. If you live in a fascist state, you have my sympathy.

          2.  Courtesy of Charlie Rangel and William Hughes. Two of the most corrupt men to ever have seats in Congress. Just goes to show what entitlement vote buying will get you.

      1. Westwood. AND I was going to the fucking KU Cancer Center. The one place you would think you could get a break. “Sorry for the expired tags, chemo is expensive.”

        But no – I don’t have cancer cancer – just toomaahs.

  7. Short answer:  little boys like big toys.  Long answer:  after long hours of playing Call of Duty, and walking coeds to cars, and busting the rare doobie dealer, these boys want action, and they want to look good doing it.  

  8. And that, boys and girls, is how the University of North Carolina got sued out of existence.  The End. *close book* *gleeful applause*

  9. I’m not a fan of militarized campus cops… or municipal or state cops for that matter.  But, please note that school shootings are not limited to VT and Columbine.  There have been other school shootings at Northern Illinois University, as well as  other elementary schools, high schools, and colleges.

    I think there are far better ways to prepare for, prevent, and minimize damage from violence.  I hope these guys do no undue harm and do not don their suped-up paintball outfits except when actually responding to a shooting.  I understand, however, why they think they need all this military equipment.  But, if they pull any of this shit out on anyone not likely to cause imminent severe harm or death, then their toys need to be taken away forever.

    1. I think these are good points. For a truly rural school it might make sense to have a force integrated with the local police, since it is likely that neither could really afford it alone. For a school in a big city, why wouldn’t you rely on the big city for this? It seems ridiculous.

      1. Shouldn’t the question really be whether “it is likely that neither could ever really need a SWAT team”? 
        Read this article:

        Actually, my real question is: “Keeping in mind indefinite detentions, stupidly-costly medical care, Citizens United, government-sanctionned torture, the anti-science school curriculum, this ‘treat the citizen as the enemy police policy’, plus anything you care to throw into the pot, why would anyone want to live in the USA?

        1. Thankfully nobody (except the incarcerated) is compelled to live in the United States. By all means, people should emigrate if they choose, or not visit. I have no idea what that is supposed to do with a SWAT unit at a college in North Carolina, but hey, you nailed it. Or whatever.

          1. Thankfully nobody (except the incarcerated) is compelled to live in the United States.

            I’m 54. It’s unlikely that any country would accept me as an immigrant at my age. I’m compelled to live in the United States by virtue of having no options.

          2. If you really wanted to leave, Mexico would probably be an option. Or Puerto Rico – it’s like America thats not America.  Or work for a cruise ship and be a citizen of the world!

            Also, in my limited experience, there are many Americans living in Europe illegally.

  10. North Carolina is becoming more like a police state every year.

     ….ooooh oooh, my congressman just called and I am on a live townhall conference.  Hopefully I can ask about the need for SWAT on a UNC campus.

  11. In case anyone is wondering, according to the article the team was formed back in 2010. Further, it seems that they did not acquire a new team, exactly – certain existing campus PD officers (of which apparently there are a lot – big campus I guess) were selected and given extra training, and of course the special weapons.

    I’m sure they have plenty of time for training, since campus PDs typically don’t have very much to do, and I would like to think that they didn’t go overboard on the weapons spending (although it looks like they do have their own big RV, which probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars even without the special SWAT configuration).

    It’s all more than necessary, obviously, but frankly so is the bulk of any typical campus PD. They’re mostly there to make people feel safe even though the campus is probably naturally the safest place in town.

    1. Haha. Diminishing returns or whatever.
      Campus cops there to make people feel safe by toting giant guns and heavy armor.  Damn, the irony hurts.

    2. Well compared to most places in NC a campus is probably not the safest place.  Considering the population density and late hours that are kept by the students violent crimes do happen a decent amount.  During my time at NC State muggings with theft, rape (not of the boyfriend variety), and violent assault were something that occurred every year.  I kept all kinds of odd hours but never witnessed anything.  I do however believe I was being followed once while returning from the library around 3am.

      1. Well, I yield to your local knowledge; my basis for that comment was anecdotal anyway :)

        In my university experience (at two universities, I went to grad school) the campuses were some of the safest places to be in the entire city – and not because of campus police. In fact, at the University of Rochester, where I went as an undergrad, they don’t even have police – just security, who have to call in the city police to actually do anything. Yet while the campus was nestled adjacent to two of the poorest, most dangerous neighborhoods in the city, that rarely spread onto campus.

        Yes, theft, rape, and various other crimes do happen on campuses – and did at Rochester, but at least in that case they are relatively rare events and pale in comparison to the stuff that’s going on right next door. Most of the campus criminal activity that was reported each week in the campus newspaper (police blotter type page) was things like your example of people thinking they were being followed late at night (which happened to me too), petty student-on-student theft, and people being drunk.

        This side discussion does further illustrate how ridiculous a campus SWAT team is. As I said though, for some people, having this kind of force makes them feel safer – but it doesn’t help when you think you’re being followed at night (which is terrifying)!

        1.  I definitely agree.  I rarely saw the campus police out and about after dark.  If anything more officers or at least visible officers would help compared to having more force.  Most of the more violent crimes were not student on student, so usually it was target of opportunity types of issue (single person typically female at night).

          As a side note, campus police did raid one of my suite mates…  I had gotten back from the library probably around 3:30am or so.  Finished cleaning up for bed and was back in my room.  I heard the suite door open and several people come in.  I got curious so I cracked my door to see who it was.  At least 2 officers dressed in all black, with vests, and armed stood across the hall.  I quickly and quietly closed the door, and resumed watching through the peep hole.  They had keys (or at least a master key).  I believe there were 4 officers in total.  It turns out they had suspected one of the guys for dealing drugs…needless to say he wasn’t there that night.  I believe he was caught dealing not long after and expelled.  I’m not sure what he was dealing, but I’m guessing it was more than pot.

      2. Yup.  That’s just what every rape victim dreams about:  having the SWAT team show up.

        1.  I’m not sure what would be worse, the hyper aggressive SWAT member, or the obese, I can still smell the Krispy Kreme on your breath, while you are dripping sweat patrol officer…

  12. Nobody noticed that at least 2 of those dudes in the pic are white?  In North Carolina? Campus po?  If I were anything but white, I’d be matriculating… SOMEWHERE ELSE next fall…

    1.  Well if your major problem with the school is the racial make up of the police force I’m sure another school like NC A&T would be happy to have you.

      1. All I’m sayin is the campus po are the people who are supposed to help get you home from a party if you’ve had a little too much, not the guys who shoot you in your boxers in your dorm room.

        1.  Umm, when I was in college that’s what your friends were for.  Not that the Campus police wouldn’t mind helping you if you were of legal drinking age….but considering most freshman are 18 it usually wasn’t wise to get the law involved.

          1. Maybe awjt went to college back in the day when the drinking age was still 18. But that far back, most campuses didn’t even have police except for writing tickets for parking in the faculty lot.

  13. When I was a college student in a Virginia school we had a housemate who was a campus cop.  (Not sure why we thought it was a good idea to live with a police officer as college students)

    Anyway no joke, he tried to get our college to form a SWAT team on campus.  This was loooong before Columbine or Tech, so of course the school didn’t bite, but I wonder if they might now.  He also brought home vulnerable young freshman coeds and nailed them on our couch.  Can’t remember what happened to the guy but thankfully he didn’t last long in our dingy pad as he was really creepy.

    1.  Did everything seem consensual? Did you have any reason to suspect that he was using his authority as a police officer in any sort of low intensity coercive way? Did the school have a policy against this? Did he ever go stalker on anyone? If none of these are the case, I don’t see how there’s a problem.

      Also, the term “coed” is archaic at best, sexist at worst.  There’s nothing unusual these days about being a woman and a college student. “Coed” dates from a time when it was novel and less usual, though you could argue that it might ave applied equally to men even back in that time.

      BTW, I agree with most others here that UNCC does not need a SWAT team. Waste of resources with potential for abuse. I work on a much larger campus in a pretty gnarly area. We have never entertained the idea of a SWAT team.

      1. Thanks for the reply.  Let me take your questions in order:
        -I suppose so.   He was a young, good looking guy so I don’t doubt that young women were attracted to him.
        -No, although I can’t rule the possibility out.
        -I have no idea.
        -I don’t know. I didn’t see any evidence of this.

        As for your comment, “I don’t see how there’s a problem.” I agree. I don’t see how there’s a problem either.  I didn’t mean to suggest that him screwing young girls on our couch was a problem.  Everybody was screwing everybody in college, at least as far as I could see.  He was taking part in it just like everybody else. I just mentioned this as a funny sidenote to what I remember about him.

        As to any possible abuse of power/stalking/coercion to obtain sexual favors from students on his part, I honestly never thought about it until now, because it’s not like it was hard to get laid at my school, policeman or not.  But now that you mention it, it wouldn’t surprise me to (gasp!) hear about a cop abusing his authority. This idea has apparently crossed your mind as well.

        The truth is that this policeman who lived with us was just a weird, creepy guy in general and we all felt uncomfortable just being around him.  Seriously, what kind of police officer chooses to live with a bunch of wastoid students in a dilapidated hovel and obsesses about starting up a campus SWAT team on our mellow, peacenik campus? He reminded me of Ted Bundy.

        As to the usage of the word “coed,” I do not deny being either archaic or sexist.  I’m also old.

        Have a pleasant day!

  14. Does the local city police department not already have a SWAT team?

    Some entire police departments don’t even have their own, because it’s so extremely rare for them to be needed. Many of the smaller cities in my area do not have a SWAT team, and in the rare event that they require one, they simply request the assistance of the team from the city nearby that does have one.

    SWAT teams are really kind of a boondoggle in most cases. I’d actually be kind of optimistic that instead of finding terrible excuses to deploy the team, they’ll eventually just dissolve it for budgetary reasons. It’s pretty expensive to maintain a police task force with SWAT equipment in a constant state of readiness (which is exactly why the one city in my area that does maintain one also happens to be the most affluent: they’re the one city that can actually afford it).

  15. Unintended consequences… knowing that SWAT teams are present might actually encourage the exact type of behavior that UNCC say they do not want. The “crazies” actually want that last shoot out and might seek out this very campus as a venue.

    1. This actually happened at the Occupy camp in Houston a couple of months ago. A person bent on committing suicide by cop came to Tranquility Park because he knew there would be a quick response.

      Two rookie bicycle cops took him down quite quickly.  He lived.

      No swat team needed.

  16. “I predict they’re serving drug warrants and raiding frat houses within a year.”
    I could care less about what a college in another state is spending its money on, however this sort of nonsense rhetoric drives me up a wall.

    1. Rhetoric it is! And a ridiculous prediction based on preconceived bias against law enforcement at that. 

      In spite of the dislike for police that BoingBoing is fostering here, I do think it is relevant that in each of the cases of fatal campus shootings various factors aggravated the situation. Namely slow response time by officers, lack of tactical training and tactical experience, insufficient co-ordination of the tactical response and inadequate gear. In a nutshell, if these campus cops are already employed in a normal campus police capacity then it cannot hurt to give them training that prepares them even a little bit to respond to a violent incident. 

      However, some of them are rather fat and I think a more stringent PFT is necessary for them to be considered ‘on standby’ in the event of a shooting.

      1. I don’t know enough about rhetorical theory to know if this sort of reasoning has a title, but I do know once you are aware of it you will see it everywhere.

        “biased predictive hyperbole.”

      2. However, you have to calculate the cost vs. benefit for maintaining a SWAT team versus the number of times a year they get called out, and the advantage in response time having a barely-used team get called out vs. having the city PD roll out its much more frequently deployed SWAT team.

        How many campus shootings have involved people running round in so much body armor that standard police weapons won’t touch them? What possible situation would be so dire that having an inexperienced SWAT team a few miles closer could possibly make any difference?

        Seriously, in most situations, they’ll do what any police force does in a hostage / nut with a gun situation. Set up a perimeter, evacuate everyone in the area, and wait for the specialists to come in. Owning a few submachine guns and size 52 tactical vests does not make you that team of specialists…

  17. Sounds like an episode of “Community.” Dean Pelton thinks the institution will get more prestige if they have a swat team, but there’s no money in the budget for it, so he  tells Chang to wear a SWAT halloween costume and brandish a scary looking paint gun.

  18. Just curious as to what these guys are supposed to be “protecting” people from…most school shooters have no intention of leaving the event alive anyway, so if anything, in the remote possibility that there’s a shooter in the area, he might PICK this school on purpose as a way to go out in a blaze of glory. And as was mentioned, you know that in no time these guys are just gonna be busting the heads of freshmen sitting around listening to Dave Matthews records and blazing a blunt cause they’re bored of sitting around their shiny new Winny.

  19. Random thoughts:
    If it wasn’t so easy to buy guns and if there were more stringent laws regarding where you can carry them…
    If the Military Industrial complex hadn’t become the economic force Pres. Eisenhauer warned us against, lo 50+ years ago…
    If the constant drumming to fear an enemy that is lurking everywhere in the US hadn’t captured the not so “Home of the Brave” imaginations of so many Americans…
    If our representatives represented their constituents instead of the corporate lobbyists who support their elections…
    I could go on but I’ll leave with this:
    What was President Obama thinking when he proposed to hire Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans as police and firemen here at home? As if they don’t have enough trauma to deal with. Are their lives to be condemned to an unending horror show? I thought that idea was a way of tossing those vets into their own worst nightmares for the rest of their working lives. A police/warrior class, if you will. It bodes no good to the future of free speech, the right to assembly, etc.

  20. Comments on BoingBoing are very valuable to someone who doesn’t live in the USA.
    I just learned more about the country and those who live there than a month of reading the NY Times would have given me.

  21. A  SWAT team really ? – I wonder how much that is going to hike up the tuition ?
    “That will be $2500 for the semester classes  $500 a month for dorm $200 a month for local fees and $ 175 a month for swat protection – please pay at the window”

  22. I am a VT Alumni.  That semester in 2007 was my final semester, and I was also there for the Will Morva fiasco. It makes me sick that people are frankly trying to exploit it. It was tragic, but an expensively outfitted SWAT team would have done zippy to change what happened. It occurred because of rules on the books regarding mental health disclosures, gun laws, and mistakes in police procedure. What happened was not the result of an outgunned police force. If your campus police cannot handle expected situations from a campus with standard equipment then they are unfit to be doing their jobs. Throw around your illogical arguments all you want UNC, but leave my school out of it, please.

    1. Fellow Hokie here, completely agree. I left VT long before the shootings (class of ’97) but I still read as much as I could and talked to as many people I could about what happened and I can’t see how a SWAT team would have changed anything for the better (but how they might have changed a lot for the worse, had they gone in guns-a-blazin’, full on SWVA hillbilly style).

  23. Gotta get those homeland security dollars!!!

    It’s like the federal drug enforcement money: the bureaucracy feeds unnecessary enforcement.

  24. OK, it’s been a long time since I have commented, so be gentle. 
    First militarization of police forces is an extremely bad idea. Like giving officers pepper spray and tasers, it allows departments to make the leap to violence faster when the situation may not call for it.So here goes; I’m not sure how the rules work now, but in the past the presence of certain types of facilities on campus required certain levels of protection from police and fire departments. The presence of some reactor types, biological facilities etc, required the police and fire departments to be able to respond in kind, should the situation require it. Will the equipment and training be held in a glass case that reads “Break only in the extremely unlikely event of somebody trying to break into that science lab we have all been told to stay out of”, not bloody likely. Do they need to be able to respond should they be called to, yes. Stating that the reason is “Columbine or Virginia Tech” may be total BS, but it makes the general population shrug and say “well maybe, oh well who’s on american idol tonight”, the real reason may be just as unlikely but far more panic inducing. We wouldn’t fault the fire department for being trained on how to respond to a toxic chemical fire, when most of the houses in town are made of wood.The officers should be trained to respond appropriately, and then go home safely. As a society, we give them awful responsibilities, for not a lot of money, then we give them very little respect and eye them with distrust. If the social contract we all live under is to hold up, on some level we have to trust that are behaving and performing in a way that is best for society. We also must verify that is the case; and in the event it is not, we mustn’t be so quick to condemn them as rednecks, racists, incompetents, or opportunists. 

    1. @tiny-zombie Yes, a fire department should be ready for a toxic chemical fire even if most area houses are wood. But a toxic chemical fire at a university is probable, and the fire department’s training would actually impact the situation. For justification, they’ve cited situations that would not have been prevented, alleviated, solved etc with a campus SWAT team. One must keep in mind, this is UNC Charlotte CAMPUS police NOT Charlotte PD. Charlotte is the largest city in NC. They have SWAT teams. They have a lot of police.  If (Knock on wood) there is a situation on UNC Charlotte campus requiring action from a SWAT team, there already exists a city police form to provide that.

      1. Fair point Dave, and I will even concede  that, the campus PD likely got a budget and like all government institutions they are going to spend it on toys for the boys. I would gently point out that that if both the city and the campus have police departments, their may be jurisdictional grey areas that may require separate swat departments, but I am sure a simple agreement from the two forces could alleviate the issue. I will also point out that I am still against the militarization of the police forces, I think it sets a bad precedent and encourages departments to actually use all their new cop stuff. :)

  25. The men at far left and far right in the photo are members of my university’s police force, which has full police powers despite not being accountable to any body outside the university. As you can see, they also wear black uniforms and are armed with lethal weapons identical to those formerly issued to the military.

    I still prefer them to most American campus forces from what I hear…

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