William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Karan R. Singh


The increasing use of SWAT teams and paramilitary force by local law enforcement has been the focus of a growing concern regarding the heavy-handed exercise of police power. Critics question the constitutionality of joint-training between the military and civilian police, as well as the Fourth Amendment considerations raised by SWAT tactics. This Note examines the history, mission, and continuing need for police SWAT teams, addressing the constitutional issues raised concerning training and tactics. It explains how SWAT joint-training with the military is authorized by federal law and concludes that SWAT tactics are constitutionally acceptable in a majority of situations. Though these tactics are legal and constitutionally authorized, this Note acknowledges the valid fears critics have regarding the abuse of such police authority, and the limitations of constitutional tort jurisprudence in adequately redressing resulting injuries.