The Columbia Police Department has completed an internal investigation into a Feb. 11 SWAT raid that drew much criticism after a video of the raid went viral on YouTube. The video showing the raid had 1.2 million views as of Thursday morning.
When the SWAT officers entered the home of Jonathan Whitworth with a search warrant for marijuana, he, his wife, his 7-year-old son and their two dogs were all in the house. Officers shot and killed Whitworth's pit bull after the dog became aggressive, Police Chief Ken Burton said. While shooting at the pit bull, police also accidentally shot the other dog in the paw.
The warrant was eight days old at the time of the raid and was issued based on tips from two confidential informants. The police only found a small amount of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia in the house, which led to a misdemeanor and a $300 fine for Whitworth.
Residents listed changes they would like to see the Police Department make to its SWAT team procedures at a City Council meeting on May 17. Concerns included the use of confidential informants and violent tactics and the use of limited police resources to fight nonviolent crime.
The internal investigation has led the department to several changes to SWAT-team policies and protocol including equipping each SWAT officer with a helmet camera, acting on warrants more quickly, engaging in more surveillance before raids and using SWAT raids less frequently.
Burton also said the policy for paid informants is under review and that he was open to the idea of monthly reports on SWAT raids.
Has the Columbia Police Department sufficiently addressed concerns about SWAT raids?