In Response to: Militarizing Police

Mr. Maas: Thank you for taking the time to learn about my research and for your considered response. I think you make several reasonable points. I agree there are very likely emergency situations that necessitate the use of SWAT teams. In the conclusion of my study, available here, I stated, "While SWAT teams arguably remain a necessary tool for violent emergency situations, restricting their use to those rare events may improve perceptions of police with little or no safety loss." I believe this statement is well-supported by the empirical evidence in my study.

I also understand that many search-warrant situations fall in the category of "high risk," meaning they pose a special safety risk to officers and may therefore call for different tactics. I have two thoughts on this. First, I think we need more study on what constitutes a "high-risk" situation, as there is reason to suspect this term is being invoked liberally and routinely. Second, my results also show no decreases in violent crime rates following the adoption/usage of SWAT teams, so I think the benefit of these raids, even if they are truly high risk, may also require further consideration.

Reasonable people can disagree on all these points and on other policy implications of the evidence I provide. My hope is that interested parties will benefit from having some hard data on these questions and can reevaluate related policies from a more informed standpoint in terms of the costs and benefits they are likely to impose.

Jonathan Mummolo, assistant professor, politics and public affairs
Princeton University