I don’t get it…

While eating dinner with neighbors Thursday evening, we observed numerous Tucson police cars driving by with lights and sirens going. After we left, we observed the SWAT van rolling in the same direction, followed shortly thereafter by a couple more police cars and what appeared to be a mobile command unit. Since I’m no longer getting paid to run toward dangerous situations (and as our apartments are located in the opposite direction), we didn’t personally investigate the situation.
According to the Tucson Citizen, the TPD SWAT’s M113 armored personnel carrier was also summoned.
Why, you might ask?
Well, from what I can make out (information is spotty, as the police have cordoned off a large area, and won’t allow anyone, including journalists, in or out), one guy has holed up in a house. He claims to be armed, and he is known to be a “prohibited person” and is prohibited by law from owning guns. The reason for his prohibition is not yet known, nor is the reason why he decided to hole up. No shots have yet been fired.
This whole situation seems a bit unusual to me. Here’s what puzzles me:

  • It’s one guy, alone, in a town house. Why, exactly, do we need a brazillion cops, SWAT, and an APC? (One of the pictures at the Citizen shows an unhelmeted, regular cop standing in front of the APC, presumably directing its driver. SWAT officers are shown standing on top of it. Clearly, they’re not advancing under withering incoming fire.) Is this guy some sort of bionic superman?
  • Why not just surround the building, turn off the power, water, and gas and wait a few hours for him to get bored of sitting in the dark? Maybe toss in a telephone or something so he can announce when he’s ready to surrender.
  • Why are the SWAT guys wearing woodland camo uniforms? There are no forests for some distance from here, and certainly none in the middle of Tucson. Level IV armor over regular police uniforms should be perfectly suitable, if not fancy. Cheaper, too.
  • Why does TPD have an APC? It doesn’t really hold any tactical purpose, except to be a bullet magnet (and anyone shooting at it can be nailed by a police marksman) and look cool on TV. While the cops distract the bad guys up front, can’t SWAT come in from the side or back doors?

After a few years in the military, I can’t really imagine any sort of realistic (or even semi-realistic) scenario where an APC would be required by police anywhere. The only remotely possible situation that comes to mind is a rare scenario like the LA riots where an APC could provide mobile shelter for riot police, mobile storage for munitions (tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.) and supplies, and a mobile strongpoint for police to rally around as they disperse the mobs of people. Somehow, I don’t really see that happening here in Tucson…or if it did, just call in the National Guard.
Honestly, I don’t get it. The whole situation seems like a huge overreaction, particularly with the APC involved. What could an individual possible do that would warrant such a massive response?
Hopefully more information will be available on Friday.
UPDATE: According to the police (as reported by the Citizen), the suspect had a record of drugs and weapons offenses. He was evidently also a heavy meth user. The police showed up to arrest him when he barricaded himself inside. The suspect killed himself early this morning.

3 thoughts on “I don’t get it…”

  1. I think the answer to all the questions you posed is that the war on drugs has a bad side effect; it has created a highly militarized police force in most major cities who have time on their hands and lots of toys that they like to play with at the slightest possible excuse.

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