When and why did SWAT start wearing Black masks?


PDA






Tokugawa
September 4, 2007, 09:58 PM
I'm curious, it always seemed the bad guys should be the ones wearing masks. Hell, even the SS and Gestapo didn't wear them. So what's up with it?

If you enjoyed reading about "When and why did SWAT start wearing Black masks?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
Nolo
September 4, 2007, 10:02 PM
They don't want to be identified when the do a forced entry on the wrong guy's house. ;)
Either that, or they finally come out with Kevlar ski masks.

Roadwild17
September 4, 2007, 10:03 PM
I'll take a crack at it.

Suppose your on a swat team and you bust a house full of BGs. You arrest 3 and let like 7 go. That's 7 ppl that are probably ticked at you, and what could happen when they run into you and your family at wallyworld would make you want a mask.

Lucky
September 4, 2007, 10:12 PM
Nolo they do make them. Kevlar has good insultating properties and heat resistance.

Roadwild that sounds implausible.

GhostlyKarliion
September 4, 2007, 10:19 PM
um, how is it implausible?

I had an unruly customer at work last night which we had to throw out of the store, we went to Denny's for lunch, guess who we saw at the restaurant? guess who tried to pick a fight at the restaurant? (and, on the same note, guess who got thrown out of the restaurant?... it wasn't us :D)

if you can't see someones face then you usually won't be able to recognize them in public, if I dealt with violent murdering psychopaths on a daily basis then I wouldn't want them to see my face either.

Gunnerpalace
September 4, 2007, 10:22 PM
I can definitely agree with roadwild on the identity issue especial after one moron in New York PUBLISHED the names and addresses of cops doing stuff like drug raids and such, I now understand why my father was so concerned with the familys safety when he was a LEO.

MICHAEL T
September 4, 2007, 10:31 PM
Sorry I don't think they need to dress andlook like 3 world commandos. They are Police not military No matter what name they go buy.. The police have arrested and killed a lot of BG over the years with out all the commando gear. Its not needed and time they return to a proper police uniform This includes the SWAT teams. Not the ball caps. jump suits, boots, and other military gear. Want to dress like a solder join the Marines or Army.

Nolo
September 4, 2007, 10:36 PM
It is one of the unspoken rules of Law Enforcement that your face should be visible at all times. In fact, that's one of the reasons that the Brits did away with helmets in Iraq, because they were in a much more LE role than a military one.
I think this rule applies to SWAT as well.
Not that it's allowed in every state, but isn't that what concealed carry is for? To protect against weirdos bent on revenge (among other things)?

trueblue1776
September 4, 2007, 10:39 PM
Smugglers/dealers have CC video all over the place, plus the news cameras would love to put a shot of you in action on the evening news. Once you have a face you can get a name, once you have a name you can get an address, once you have an address you can come burn my house down with me in it.


Then again there are a lot of bozos who think it goes with the outfit. I never minded showing my face until I got photographed for ID by somebody.

220_Swift
September 4, 2007, 10:49 PM
Some SWAT members also do undercover work, and can't blow that cover. I have a cousin who is on a SWAT team and that is the only reason he wears a face mask.

Nolo
September 4, 2007, 10:51 PM
Fair enough to wear a mask in that scenario. However, I think that all UC guys should be UC full-time, because it would really suck to see your best buddy drug dealer Mega-G stopping traffic on Madison Avenue.

jaholder1971
September 4, 2007, 10:52 PM
lucky said:Nolo they do make them. Kevlar has good insultating properties and heat resistance.

Roadwild that sounds implausible.

Kevlar ski masks are worn by firefighters for this reason as well.

Nolo
September 4, 2007, 10:53 PM
I never knew they made Kevlar ski-masks, but it didn't seem to be a long shot, either.

Juna
September 4, 2007, 10:54 PM
I think there are two sides to this.

Sure, the masks protect the anonymity of the LEOs during raids/arrests of violent bad guys who might do them harm in the future.

On the other hand, say they raid the wrong house. You see a bunch of masked guys run into your house with guns. Don't you think your interpretation of what's going on might be a little different than if they were all dressed like LEOs?

Moreover, say some mask-wearing LEOs violate your rights during a botched raid. How do you identify them to complain (assuming you even survive)? I believe you have a right to know who's arresting you and why. I think being an LEO is a potentially dangerous job, but I think we, as citizens who pay the LEO salaries, deserve to know who is arresting us in case, for example, he/she violates our rights or behaves inappropriately.

I think the police are becoming way too paramilitary--mainly b/c of the "war on drugs," which is ridiculous. If we ended modern-day Prohibition (AKA the "war on drugs"), we'd save over half our police budget and end all of this paramilitary nonsense. Sam's club would put your local street corner dealer/gang banger out of business in a week, and the LEOs would have less to worry about. We could topple the whole drug cartel economy if we legalized drugs in the U.S. So much money (PD, DEA, etc.) and so many lives are wasted on enforcing modern-day Prohibition. It didn't work then, and it doesn't work now.

Doing undercover work should be separate. You shouldn't pull double duty with undercover work and non-undercover work. That seems like common sense.

JLStorm
September 4, 2007, 10:54 PM
If my job was to break into someones house who was deemed as a serious threat to society Id be wearing a damn mask too.

crazed_ss
September 4, 2007, 10:56 PM
They wear masks to hide their face. Also, they wear them to be intimindating. I was watching a program about SWAT teams on the History Channel and they mentioned SWAT purposesly tries to come off as intimindating as possible. They want the bad guys to think there is absolutely no way they can win.

another okie
September 4, 2007, 10:56 PM
I understand why police officers would occasionally want to wear them, but I don't think they should be allowed to. If they are undercover, stay undercover. If they are afraid of retaliation, there are ways to deal with that, as well. If the law they are enforcing is so unpopular that they don't want to be seen, perhaps they should give that some thought.

In a democracy, police officers are servants of the people and should have faces visible and name tags at all times. I hate to see police officers dressed up like soldiers.

Geronimo45
September 4, 2007, 11:00 PM
Also for protection against chemicals? Throwing a pot of boiling oil was pretty good at changing intentions of attackers in the middle ages. These guys are running in with body armor, goggles, protective clothes. Probably want added protection against BGs with mace... or BGs with hot Crisco.

Nolo
September 4, 2007, 11:01 PM
Amen, Okie!
That's what separates a land under martial law from a land under civil law. In a land under civil law, the law enforcement should be civil, and, thus, unmasked and identified.
It's just like reading your Miranda Rights, it's all about the accused being informed.

Rexster
September 4, 2007, 11:02 PM
Some narcotics raid teams include guys doing undercover work. I have been along on such raids, and only the UCs are masked. Some SWAT types are wearing Nomex balaclavas for protection against some of the pyrotechnic stuff they deploy, or against perceived dangers posed by the subjects of a raid. LEOs who shoot criminals are also targeted by the news media and leftist groups who support criminal causes. That is a difficult burden to bear. Many agencies will not publicly reveal the SWAT guys who pull the trigger, unlike the patrol officers, who unfortunately, do bear the burden of being publicly labeled as killers. Is it right to protect the identities of SWAT officers? I am of mixed emotions about that; perhaps I should say that I am a uniformed patrol officer, whose every faux pas is subject to public scrutiny, and if I shoot someone again, the media will list every on-duty fender bender, every time I missed court, and my previous incidents involving deaths of citizens, right alongside my photo. If I am really unlucky, they will publish my home address, so people won't even have to do research to figure out where I live.

Gator
September 4, 2007, 11:05 PM
Criminals have long covered their faces to prevent identification by their victims. In a free society no government official should EVER cover their face.

Remember when the police used to be "Peace Keepers"? They were respected then. Now they are militaristic thugs, acting in secret, who delight in trampling on our rights.

Rexter, you sound like one of the few remaining decent, honest, law enforcement officers. I salute you for that.

Threeband
September 4, 2007, 11:07 PM
Of course you can justify it any number of ways. But it doesn't change the core reality:

The un-restrained growth of (secret) police powers and abuses of those powers signals the end of the Liberty our forefathers bequethed us.

Juna
September 4, 2007, 11:09 PM
If the law they are enforcing is so unpopular that they don't want to be seen, perhaps they should give that some thought.

In a <constitutional republic>, police officers are servants of the people and should have faces visible and name tags at all times. I hate to see police officers dressed up like soldiers.

Well said.

I think that enforcing laws anonymously could be a slippery slope with respect to our rights. It sounds more like anarchy or the KGB when masked men break in and enforce their will on ordinary citizens anonymously. The police are public servants, not government enforcers. That's why I somewhat disagree with the term "law enforcement officer". I prefer "public servant" as that should be their primary purpose.

Rexster, you sound like one of the truly good public servants. Keep up the good work, and thank you for your service to our society.

another okie
September 4, 2007, 11:12 PM
Rexter: Thank you for what you do for your community. You sound like a good officer. I don't know if your agency gives you any help in this regard, but here's some things you can do:

1. unlisted phone
2. home purchased in the name of a trust (trust name should be something anonymous)
3. wife can use maiden name on the job
4. live outside the jurisdiction of your agency
5. don't tell people where you live that you are an officer (this is for general safety as well, since you don't want the clerk at the store to say "you're a cop, do something!" when the armed robbers burst in)
6. mail should go to a post office box, which should also be away from downtown, and indeed the box can also be in a trust name

These only work if you are in a big city, and it's sad anyone should have to do them.

Actually most of these are something anyone can do. In my experience, social workers and teachers are more likely to suffer retribution than police officers, since officers are known to be armed and to have self-defense training, and since those who attack officers find themselves high priority suspects.

Ragnar Danneskjold
September 4, 2007, 11:12 PM
Geronimo makes another good point. If you inflict damage on someone's face, you have a pretty good chance of taking them out of the fight. A pot of boiling water, a handful of sawdust, or some other particulate can blind, burn, or incapacitate an officer. A good nomex mask can do wonders for face protection.


As for "the good guys should always be visible with a shiny name tag" idea, that is quite frankly archaic. The image of a street cop walking down the street twirling his whistle carrying a .38 revolver, helping Johny get a cat out of a tree is nonsense. A cop like that would get his ### handed to him in the real world. I for one am thankful that there are still people who want to be police period. For all the crap they get from armchair tacticools, the danger they face, the long strange hours, strain on families, and having to confront societies dregs day in and day out. If they want to wear some armor, clothing or weapons that makes sure they make it home so they can come out the next day and do it all over again, I am fine with it. I'm glad that there is someone out driving around at 2:30 am LOOKING for the bad guys who are looking for me. Let em stay safe so they can keep doing their job. And Lord help us all if they decide to quit because of the cost, hassle, and strain.

c_yeager
September 4, 2007, 11:13 PM
It is one of the unspoken rules of Law Enforcement that your face should be visible at all times. In fact, that's one of the reasons that the Brits did away with helmets in Iraq, because they were in a much more LE role than a military one.
I think this rule applies to SWAT as well.
Not that it's allowed in every state, but isn't that what concealed carry is for? To protect against weirdos bent on revenge (among other things)?

This is also why you almost never see motorcycle cops wearing full face helmets. It's been long established in our culture that the "good guys" don't need to wear masks.

Nolo
September 4, 2007, 11:14 PM
That's the right answer, Threeband.
It's like the Second Amendment, there are some bad repercussions from allowing people to have arms. But it's just right to. Not to mention all the good things that come of it, too.
Good things that come of not wearing masks:
-Honest citizens can recognize you in the event of a bungled entry.
-You remain firmly LE and don't step into "Commando" territory.
-People are more likely to recognize you as a person and not a government-controlled SpecOps robot.
-It helps with negotiations.

Mannix
September 4, 2007, 11:14 PM
Sorry I don't think they need to dress andlook like 3 world commandos. They are Police not military No matter what name they go buy.. The police have arrested and killed a lot of BG over the years with out all the commando gear. Its not needed and time they return to a proper police uniform This includes the SWAT teams. Not the ball caps. jump suits, boots, and other military gear. Want to dress like a solder join the Marines or Army.

I swear I've heard something similar before...

"You like to fire assault weapons? I have a place for you. It's not in the homes and streets of America. It's called the Army, and you can join any time!" -Wesley Clark

"There is no right to have access to the weapons of war in the streets of America.
For those who want to wield those weapons, we have a place for them. It is the US military. And we welcome them."
John Kerry

RobMoore
September 4, 2007, 11:16 PM
I'm suprised nobody has mentioned one of the most obvious reasons to wear a mask while "raiding" a house.....to PROTECT YOUR FACE. Not from recognition, but from damage.

Gordon
September 4, 2007, 11:18 PM
Heck, I'd go in looking like Darth Vader!:cool:

Nolo
September 4, 2007, 11:20 PM
Mannix (if I am correct), you are extrapolating that I (and a couple others) am a hypocrite. Far from it, I am placing limitations on the government, not the people, which is something I have always advocated. If the LEO wants to wear a ski mask in public (or even own one), he is certainly free to do so, but he should be only allowed to do so as a private citizen. If you have to go paramilitary on these thugs, then maybe it's a job for the National Guard.

Ragnar Danneskjold
September 4, 2007, 11:44 PM
I guess it has to do with how we view police. I pesonally think of police officers as everyday guys who had something inside them that made them sign up for a job where they would get spit on, kicked, yelled at, shot at, accused of everything imaginable, all while working terrible hours away from their wives and kids. Normal, good-hearted guys doing a tough job because it has to be done.

Others see police as automatons and part of some Big Government scheme to turn our society in to some Orwellian dystopia. Cops are just the hired thugs and henchmen.


Given my personal view, I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, thank them for their service to me and my family, and let them have whatever gear they think can level the playing field against criminals who would love nothing more than to see them(or me) dead. I think the military should have what they need to fight the bad guys overseas. And I see no reason why the police should not have what they need to fight the bad guys here.


And the idea that all cops who want to wear masks must be out to deprive me of my rights sounds a lot like the idea that all people who want to carry guns must want to hurt people.

Mot45acp
September 4, 2007, 11:44 PM
Closed in...5...4...3...2...

cslinger
September 4, 2007, 11:54 PM
Heck, I'd go in looking like Darth Vader!

God I can just imagine that and I am ROTFLMAO.

Toss in a couple of flashbangs, blow the door off the hinges have a bunch of assaulters clear the room and then through smoke and haze you come walking in in full Darth Vader armor, with the DV breathing etc. Maybe mutter something like "Commander, tear this house apart until you find those drugs."

Really it would make a great cops episode.

Sorry for the thread creep.:neener:

Nolo
September 4, 2007, 11:55 PM
Not at all, taurusowner, in fact, exactly the opposite for me. I think cops should (and for a large part, at least, are) normal people who feel a need to do a duty to society. I myself have considered becoming an LEO, and, for that reason among others, I think that police should not encourage the look of the government-controlled automaton. Hence, why I think it is unwise to mask your police officers. It breaks trust with the populace when trust is so important. How do you think you got the information as to where the crack house was in the first place? Maybe an UCO, and maybe a tip-off from an average Joe. A tip-off that may be far less likely if your officers are running around in masks. It's about your people trusting their officers, and that is harder if they won't even show their faces to us.

GunTech
September 4, 2007, 11:59 PM
My wife is a federal LEO, and they never wear masks while doing raids, unless it is a high threat raid. The masks aren't kevlar, they are Nomex - just like firefighters, who also wear Nomex. Nomex is a fire retardant material. The use of Nomex hoods by dynamic entry teams pararllels the use of stun and flash grenades, which have a nasty habit of throwing hots stuff around and lighting fires.

But hoods also parallel the militarization of law enforcement. Groups started using hoods for a practical reason, now they do it because you need to be all intimidating and 'tacticool'. Hood were priginally meant to be safety equipment. Now many of the hoods worn aren't even fireproof.

Makes one wonder.

hso
September 5, 2007, 12:03 AM
Don't see anything 'bout guns so this one's closed. Good topic for ArmedPoliteSociety, though.

If you enjoyed reading about "When and why did SWAT start wearing Black masks?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!