Editorial: Why SWAT needs body cams, too

From The Denver Post:  In recent days two Denver police officers have landed in the hospital after being shot while doing their jobs, one during a traffic stop and the other as part of a SWAT team trying to serve an arrest warrant.

Their injuries should remind all of us of how dangerous wearing a badge can be, and also why the glib anti-police rhetoric you hear from some quarters is so despicable. For the most part, cops conscientiously try to protect the public and maintain order. And that should not be forgotten.

Nevertheless, the national debate over incidents of excessive force remains legitimate and is not going away. And one of the two recent Denver shootings, in which the suspect was killed, highlights a potential weakness in reforms instituted in Denver.

Denver Police’s Metro SWAT Unit is typically involved in the toughest and most violent police actions, but Chief Robert White has said SWAT officers won’t wear body cameras as they are issued throughout his department because he doesn’t want their sometimes secret tactics divulged.

Denver should be commended for embracing a body camera program and ramping it up, in answer to public input, to include sergeants and off-duty officers who are working in official capacity.

The goal of the program is not to reveal police maneuvers, it is to be a record of action. And few units see more action than the militarized SWAT team.

SWAT members are trained in special weapons and tactics and respond to special scenarios, such as raids, mass demonstrations and hostage and barricade situations.

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