Here’s What Utah’s SWAT Teams Have Been Up To in 2015

Utah is the only state with a law requiring police transparency regarding “forcible entry” (no-knock or knock-and-announce) warrants and the use of SWAT teams. Last year’s report provided the first look into the use of force in Utah. This year’s report—showing data for 2015—has just been released.

As with last year, many law enforcement agencies did not comply with the law, and failed to complete the report when contacted by the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. 149 agencies were contacted, and 110 completed the report. As the report summary notes, “the information presented… is only as accurate as the data reported by each individual law enforcement agency.”

Here is a summary of the data that was provided:

  • There were 457 total “reportable incidents” in 2015—a decline of 18% compared to the year before.
  • Of these, 281 incidents involved forcibly entering the residence or building.
  • 74.4% of forcible entries pertained to offenses regarding drugs or alcohol.
  • Warrants were obtained in 97% of all reported incidents.
  • Weapons (including non-firearms) were brandished by suspects in 3% of reported incidents. Firearms were used by suspects on two occasions.
  • Seven officers were injured—two of which were from an altercation with no weapons, and three of which were from chemical exposure. The remaining two officers were injured for unreported reasons, though not due to a weapon from the suspect.
  • Two civilians were injured. None were killed.
  • No animals were injured or killed.

Here is a breakdown of the reasons leading to these incidents:

This graph shows the breakdown of what kinds of warrants were issued:

When we proposed the legislation that led to these reports, the prevailing concern around the country (and in Utah) at the time dealt with forcible entry warrants. Now, however, most officer-involved shootings seem to occur outside the home—at a roadside stop, at a gas station, or on the front porch. As such, we intended to seek an amendment to the law such that these incidents are also reported, so that the public can better understand the reasons that lead to these encounters, as well as the overall “big picture” of how force is being used by law enforcement officers—public servants—around the state.

The entire report can be read here.