S.W.A.T. – Then and Now

The Agitator reminds me that a new reality show is coming January 5 on A&E: Dallas SWAT.
Radley has been doing a great job pointing out how the SWAT mentality has been taking over this country, with even small towns having SWAT teams that end up killing innocents and/or using SWAT tactics for drug raids involving non-violent possession of marijuana.
And I’ve talked for some time about drug task forces and their tactics, and how busting into houses used to be reserved for situations where innocents were being threatened (like hostage situations) and has now become a regular tool of drug enforcement.
I’m sure all this will be glorified in the new show.
In fact, it reminded me that there was another S.W.A.T. television show back in 1975, so I took a look at the episode descriptions. In the 36 episode life of the show, only 3 even mentioned drugs, and none of them involved today’s middle-of-the-night break-down-the-door raids:

  • Episode 16 – Two officers go undercover to catch drug dealers.
  • Episode 22 – Hondo and a convicted dope dealer are stranded in rough terrain when syndicate thugs who want to keep him from testifying sabotage their helicopter.
  • Episode 32 – Lt. Eddie Chew is assigned to aid Lt. Hondo Harrelson when an elderly shop owner is fatally beaten by an illegal Chinese alien working as a shakedown man for Albert Parker, the Caucasian leader of what appears to be an all-Oriental crime syndicate, a deadly drug and protection ring. Hondo begins to doubt Chew’s integrity when it becomes obvious that Chinatown criminals are being given secrets of his investigation.

Most of the episodes involved real S.W.A.T. type hostage or terrorist situations, such as:

  • Episode 7 – A terrorist group takes a professional basketball team hostage and demands money.
  • Episode 8 – The team must find an elusive assassin who is unaware that he is spreading a deadly disease.
  • Episode 9 – …As Miss New Mexico tries on the crown and scepter, the armored car thieves attempt to steal the jewels, taking Susan and Miss New Mexico as hostages.
  • Episode 10 – Student protestors steal guns and seize control of a nuclear reactor.
  • Episode 17 – Street and his girl friend are trapped in a deserted movie studio planted with bombs by an embittered movie stuntman
  • Episode 25 – man steals a tugboat laden with explosives and threatens to blow up a famous marine biologist unless he is given a million dollars.
  • Episode 29 – The SWAT team protects a key government witness against an organized crime boss.
  • Episode 34 – A group of militants take over a radio station and demand that their jailed leader be released or they’ll blow it up.
  • Episode 35 – A mentally unbalanced veteran touring a movie studio suddenly thinks he is back fighting in Vietnam.

Now those are some good reasons to call in the S.W.A.T. team!
So what do we know about the upcoming Dallas SWAT show? Well, in the description, we see…

Ride shotgun as the team executes high-risk drug busts, apprehends murder suspects, searches for high-profile missing persons, and rescues hostages.

Notice the order of priority?
That’s right – Dallas SWAT cares more about busting pot smokers than saving Miss New Mexico (and Susan) from the Armored Car Thieves.
I wonder what percentage of the new show will be drug busts. Also, since it is a reality show, will they show when they bust down the door in a wrong-address raid and kill the homeowner? I’m guessing… probably not.

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