The federal government deployed SWAT teams from 16 different federal divisions to deal with the unrest surrounding racial justice protests in May and June, Congress’ chief watchdog said in a report Thursday that reveals the extent of Trump administration action.
Teams deployed from Buffalo to Miami, and from San Diego to D.C., in some cases as the main protection for federal buildings and in other cases as backup to other national or local law enforcement agencies, according to the Government Accountability Office.
The deployments have drawn intense scrutiny, with Trump critics saying the federal presence was heavy-handed, particularly in the nation’s capital.
The District of Columbia was the most intense, with 11 different tactical teams playing some role there during protests. They ranged from the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team to the Pentagon’s 14-member Force Protection Emergency Response Team, which deployed to clear protesters from near a military courthouse in downtown.
Buffalo and San Diego each saw four different SWAT teams deployed.
Other cities included El Paso, Dallas, House and Pearland in Texas; Detroit and Port Huron in Michigan; St. Louis; Los Angeles and San Francisco in California; New York City; Seattle and Tacoma in Washington; and Denver.
Portland was not listed, likely because of the time frame. GAO’s review only spanned through June, and additional federal tactical teams were sent to the Oregon city in July.
Federal officials say they sent in reinforcements after violent riots broke out around the federal courthouse and local police were told to stand down.
The U.S. Marshals Service declined to say where it deployed tactical teams, calling it a sensitive matter. The agency wouldn’t even disclose the number of people on its tactical teams.
Other agencies, though, were forthcoming.
GAO released the information as part of a broader audit of 25 tactical teams run by federal agencies.
They range from the FBI’s SWAT team, with nearly 1,100 members, to a two-man team at the National Institutes of Health.