Speed Reads

The police state

This interactive map of paramilitary police raids is terrifying and depressing

This interactive map created by Washington Post journalist Radley Balko and the libertarian Cato Institute shows botched paramilitary police raids across the U.S. The map focuses on the use of heavily armed SWAT teams who use forced entry to storm homes unannounced, usually while inhabitants are sleeping. As many as 40,000 of these raids happen each year — most frequently as police become soldiers in the drug war, often against nonviolent offenders. Many end up targeting innocent civilians by accident. Family pets are frequent targets as well; by one estimate, police in the U.S. kill a pet, on average, every 98 minutes.

Click the image below for the full interactive version at Cato.


Unfortunately, the map is far from complete, as it is notoriously difficult to find large-scale data about police brutality. There are no national statistics on police shootings, for instance, though they occur on a regular basis. Since Michael Brown's death in Ferguson on Aug. 9, police have killed unarmed civilians in Los Angeles; San Jose; Victorville, California, and South Salt Lake, Utah.