It Isn’t About No-Knocks. It’s About Home Invasions.

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Chris Roach notes last week’s drug raid death of FBI agent Sam Hicks, and writes…

…”libertarians’ silence on the Hicks’ case as the facts have come out is noteworthy.  The pro-drug-dealer libertarians of the CATO [sic] Institute make a big show of every mistaken drug raid, while ignoring the many cases of brutal drug dealer violence against police and one another.”

Well first, my “silence” on the issue is due mainly to the fact that the case is only a few days old, and I’ve had other things to work on.  But I’ll bite.  Let’s look at this case.  Unsubtly referring to me, Roach writes:

FBI agent, Samuel Hicks, was killed this week in Pittsburgh while serving an arrest warrant in a botched drug raid.  He was 33.  After the agent knocked on the suspect’s door and announced his intention, the suspect apparently proceeded to flush his stash of cocaine down the toilet.  After the suspect didn’t answer, they were shot by the suspect’s wife when they came through the threshold.  The arrest went down using the “knock and announce” tactics and non-SWAT gear that libertarians have long asked for.

Problem is, I haven’t “long asked for” police to knock and announce before blowing open doors and raiding private homes to enforce nonviolent, consensual crimes.  I’ve explained on several occasions (including the last paragraph of the post he links to) that my problem with paramilitary raids for nonviolent offenses is not that the police don’t knock first, it’s with the forcible entry into a private home in the first place.   These tactics create violence and confrontation where none existed before.  An announcement is better than no announcement.  But that’s beside the point.  For the people inside (this case being the exception), the difference is usually negligible.

It’s the paramilitary tactics that are the problem.  These tactics carry a very low margin for error, on the part of both the police and the suspects they’re raiding.  You’re waking people up, and while they’re groggy and fearful, you’re forcing them to process and evaluate an armed confrontation.  I don’t care how much force you bring, that’s a needlessly dangerous situation, not just for suspects and innocent bystanders, but for police officers.  And even if all of these raids went down exactly as planned, there’s the broader question of whether the image of armed men dressed as soldiers battering down American citizens’ doors some 40-50,000 per year, mostly for consensual crimes, is one that’s consistent with a free society.  I’d argue it isn’t.

Moreover, not only does the Korbe-Hicks raid not refute my position, it reinforces it.  The police themselves have conceded that they didn’t consider Robert Korbe to be dangerous, or at least heavily armed.  And in fact, he was neither.   Korbe didn’t respond to the police knock at his door by shooting at them.  He responded by fleeing to his basement to dispose of his supply of cocaine.  That’s when they broke down his door.

It was Korbe’s wife who shot and killed Agent Hicks.  Christina Korbe had no prior criminal record.  She had a legal permit for the gun she used.  She was upstairs with her two children, ages 10 and 4, when the police tore down the door at 6 am.  She plausibly says she had no idea they were police.

For most people, Christina Korbe won’t be a particularly sympathetic person.  She knew or should have known of her husband’s criminal history, and early indications suggest she benefited from the lifestyle his drug dealing afforded her.

That said, from what I know of the case, I don’t believe she knowingly shot and killed Agent Hicks.  She says she didn’t hear the announcement, and thought her home was being robbed—not an unreasonable assumption.  She says she fired at the men invading her home because she feared they might hurt her kids. More to the point, she was on the phone with a 911 operator during the raid.  Now I’ll admit that I can’t easily assume the mindset of a cold-blooded cop killer, but it’s hard to imagine one who would knowingly kill a raiding police officer, then call the police to come investigate.  The more logical explanation is precisely the one Christina Korbe has given—she was scared, and thought her home was being invaded.  When I’ve talked to innocent people who’ve been targeted in these raids, every one of them has said the same thing—that their first thought was that their home was being invaded.

So yes, you could argue that Christina Korbe was foolish for continuing to live with a career criminal.  You could argue that she was selfish for not getting her kids out of that environment.  But I’m not arguing that she’s sympathetic.  Only that she isn’t a cop killer.  She reacted instinctively to defend her home and her family.  Just like Cory Maye did.  Just like Kathryn Johnston did.  Just like Ryan Frederick did.  Just as just about any of us would do if someone we couldn’t identify had just violently broken into our home.

Robert Korbe was wanted for a nonviolent crime.  The police, once again, decided to employ violent, invasive tactics to arrest hi for it.   Now an FBI agent is dead.   And instead of taking a second look at whether or not these tactics were appropriate, they’ll just put the brunt of the blame on Christina Korbe, throw her in prison, and carry on with the raids, until the next time someone dies.

The cops knew all about Korbe.  The knew he had a full-time job.  They knew (or at least should have known) that his wife had a legally-registered gun.  Why couldn’t they approach him and arrest him at work?  Why not nab him as he’s coming or going from his house?  Why was it necessary to tear down the man’s door and rush his house early in the morning, while his wife and kids were at home?

Roach thinks the cops should have used more overwhelming force—that if they hadn’t observed the knock-and-announce requirement, Agent Hicks would still be alive.  Maybe.  Or maybe that would have merely allowed them to advance further up the stairs before Christina Korbe fired her gun.  At which point they may have fired back.  At which point you’d not only have the cops and Christina Korbe shooting at one another, you’d also have two kids caught in the crossfire.

Even if Christina Korbe is a cold-blooded cop killer, if you don’t bring the violence into her home, she never gets the chance to shoot at Agent Hicks.

Want an alternate scenario were Agent Hicks unquestionably comes out unharmed?  Here it is:  The cops never raid the Korbe home in the first place.  They approach Robert Korbe at work, or as he’s about to enter or exit his house.  They don’t put Korbe’s family, the raiding officers, and Korbe himself at risk with the violence of a paramilitary-style drug raid.  Christina Korbe isn’t put in the impossible position of having to determine in an instant if the armed men who’ve just broken into her home are cops or criminals.  Robert Korbe is arrested without incident, and becomes another drug war statistic.  Agent Hicks goes home to his wife and kids.  The Korbe kids don’t have to grow up without their mother, and the Hicks kids without their father.

That’s a hell of a lot better scenario than what we ended up with, isn’t it?

MORE:  Per a few comments below, when I say it would be better to apprehend nonviolent suspects at their place of work, or as they’re leaving coming home, I mean getting 3-4 plain clothes cops to show up to make a quick and low-key arrest.  I don’t mean sending a SWAT team into the local McDonalds or neighborhood office park.  This domestic application of the Powell doctrine (use overwhelming force, all the time) is what’s so troubling.

Also, Roach responds in addendum to the post linked above.  I’ve had this debate with him before, and his addendum is filled with the same arguments I’ve rebutted dozens of times, on this site, in <em>Overkill</em>, and elsewhere.  I have no interest in exchanging 3,000-word posts with him.  But his response is there if you’re interested in reading it.

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106 Responses to “It Isn’t About No-Knocks. It’s About Home Invasions.”

  1. #1 |  Andrew Williams | 

    The problem with your scenario, Radley, is that it makes too much goddamn sense and doesn’t give the cops excuses to shoot their guns, knock doors down and kill dogs. Which, as we all know, are pillars of law enforcement activity.

  2. #2 |  Andrew | 

    Of course that would be a better scenario. But one of the things it comes down to is THEY LIKE THE VIOLENCE. In the appeal in Cory Maye’s case that was filed a couple of weeks ago the defense team noted that the prosecutor stated during the trial that the cops could’ve killed Cory after he shot Officer Jones and nobody would’ve ever questioned it.

    Plus … there’s no excuse for a violent entry into a home where there are kids. None.

  3. #3 |  Rick Caldwell | 

    Notably, none of the myrmidons have responded to your trackback, even though they were mighty active beforehand. Then again, it takes them a while to read fully formed paragraphs. Give them a chance.

  4. #4 |  scott clark | 

    What of the Korbe’s contention that Hicks was killed by friendly fire? Has that been dealt with and ruled out to your satisfaction yet?

  5. #5 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    Given how critical announcement evidence is in a case like this, you would think that there would be some serious effort, at least by defense counsel, to establish how difficult it is to comprehend an announcement made outside a home with the windows and doors shut. The evidence usually comes in without qualification, however, and the jury is free to believe that the announcement (if made) was crystal-clear to the home’s occupants.

    Here’s a fun experiment to try at home: send someone outside with a book, have them pick a sentence at random, and see if you can make it out when shouted at the top of their lungs. When I tried this, my friend just sounded like a pissed-off drunk. And that was not in the middle of the night, with a lot of crashing noises from door kicks competing with it. Give it a try– in three minutes you can become an expert.

    And Andrew, as for:

    Of course that would be a better scenario. But one of the things it comes down to is THEY LIKE THE VIOLENCE.

    I disagree. Police officers don’t “like the violence,” but they do believe forcible entries are necessary for safety or investigative purposes. That belief springs from a number of assumptions, value judgements, and, in some cases, prejudices, that desperately need to be addressed, but which absolutely won’t be if police groups believe that they are being vilified.

  6. #6 |  Gregory | 

    So the fact that it was a cop that got killed somehow justifies the use of military tactics? I’m trying to wrap my head around this logic. Is the point of a police home invasion to increase the chances of a criminal becoming violent, thus justifying the approach used?

    I’m someone who has at times considered becoming a cop in spite of–or in some ways because of–the things I’ve read on this blog. I certainly would not want to become one if I get shot dead and then have my death be used to show that the strategy that caused my death works and is necessary.

    Could someone please explain how a cop being shot and killed shows that a strategy works?

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Radley’s solution makes too much sense. The problem is that Radley is going against long held and accepted beliefs in the society.

    The viewpoint of the police is not only accepted by too many cops, but by the majority of society and politicians. As a general rule, people don’t like their assumptions challenged, and they often get upset and attack the person challenging them. Here, Radley’s opposition to SWAT raids is immediately painted as pro-criminal, pro-drugs etc: i.e. the dangerous other.

    Its not much different to pro/con the Iraq war, GOP v Democrats, etc. I can only hope that the incoming President is less prone to the politics of smear and divide than Bush et al, and we can actually get some sensible discussion of issues. At least Obama has pushed for greater police oversight in ILL (tho backed down on Federal wiretapping).

  8. #8 |  Whim | 

    If I was soundly asleep at home, and the police silently surrounded my house, yelled “Police, Open UP” a few times, followed by sledgehammers knocking my door off the hinges, I doubt I would process the information accurately.

    My presumption is that I was being subjected to a home invasion.

    For the homeoner, No-Knock raids, or Knock-Announce-and-Blow-Open the door matter little in the middle of the night with the resident soundly ASLEEP.

    A normal person just cannot process that stimuli accurately while asleep.

    Instead, they just re-act to the noise of the door being knocked in by the intruders.

    Why hasn’t law enforcement figured this out?

    Because they want to keep every advantage: SURPRISE, overwhelming firepower, overwhelming numbers, slumbering residents, and their Cardinal Rule:

    “Dead Men Tell No Tales”.

  9. #9 |  Warren | 

    Dead. Solid. Perfect. Radley.

    So more force is the answer? So…maybe an artillery barrage or airstrike before the raid? That would sure suppress any potential resistance and make for a Hell of a highlight video.

  10. #10 |  Liberty or Bust | rights | liberty | privacy | politics | technology | economics | limited government | 

    […] Balko does a good job of putting to words my personal view of how to serve nonviolent warrants. Here is the link. Posted in Uncategorized […]

  11. #11 |  Mike T | 

    Roach is the sort of man who made Waco happen. I’ll never forget when my dad, a career cop-turned-federal agent watching the videos of Waco when they first hit the news. He nearly went berserk and destroyed the TV in a fit of rage at, what he said, was the non-existent professionalism of the cops involved. A lot of retired cops feel that way about the newer generation of cops. They think “hey, why pick David Koresh up during his daily walk to town, when we can storm his heavily fortified and armed compound?”

    If they had just waited until this guy left for work, they could have surrounded him, arrested him and order his wife to come out unarmed while they searched the house. That’s how they used to do these things before SWAT units became an option.

  12. #12 |  Lee | 

    I’m always baffled as to why violence and force is used under the guise of “we need to get evidence, we need the surprise.” I know the answer is because they want to shoot dogs and people, and need a plausible scenario to pass to the investigators (their colleagues) so everyone can rubber-stamp it and say “policy was followed, carry on”.

    So some pot, cocaine, etc. gets flushed or destroyed, big deal? It’s much better than bullets flying everywhere, lives being destroyed, neighborhoods being turned into a battle zone, etc. It’s even more stupid when, as pointed out many times here, they can just arrest the guy at work, outside, etc.

  13. #13 |  Lee | 

    And to #5: you’re right on, go perform the experiment NOW and you’ll see that you can’t hear things well in an IDEAL setting. Now make it dark, you’re asleep or drowsy from waking up, etc. and it is IMPOSSIBLE to determine much. It does give the “element of surprise” to police, but it also gives people the justified reaction of shooting to defend their home from unknown intruders. Therefore it’s a violent situation created by the police, and only the police are to blame.

  14. #14 |  Johnstank | 

    #5 has a good point! It’s a bad situation all around, knock or no-knock, and it’s prone to get either a homeowner or an agent killed.

    Let’s say I’m asleep. I hear maybe 3 seconds of shouting, then the door being ripped off the hinges. I have maybe two seconds to react – in the 1st second, I grab my weapon and assume the stance; in the next second I have to decide whether to kill the target in front of me. I know either way, that sillhouette is NOT supposed to be there! That means either I’m going to die (if I hesitate) or the agent’s going to die (if I don’t). Neither of those is a very good outcome.

    The unecessary escalation of force is what is at issue. You can’t tell me that these people never leave the house. You can’t tell me that they coudln’t be arrested through ruse or subterfuge. I imagine the Feds wanted to be able to show a big pile of cocaine and weapons for the nightly news. That kind of thinking cost an agent’s life, and it regularly costs civilians lives. Great reasons to end both the raids and the drug war.

  15. #15 |  Steve Verdon | 

    That said, from what I know of the case, I don’t believe she knowingly shot and killed Agent Hicks. She says she didn’t hear the announcement, and thought her home was being robbed—not an unreasonable assumption. She says she fired at the men invading her home because she feared they might hurt her kids.

    If we were to swap Korbe’s place with a cop and this was his justification for shooting her we’d not be discussing this case in this manner. It would be settled out of court and the officer would not go to jail, not suffer career wise, and the kids would not have their mother.

    Frankly, once I got to this point, the issue should be settled. She acted just like a cop would in the same situation, so not guilty. Done and done.

  16. #16 |  Steve Verdon | 

    The cops knew all about Korbe. The knew he had a full-time job. They knew (or at least should have known) that his wife had a legally-registered gun. Why couldn’t they approach him and arrest him at work? Why not nab him as he’s coming or going from his house? Why was it necessary to tear down the man’s door and rush his house early in the morning, while his wife and kids were at home?

    Oh, and nabbing him at work and then sending officers at a reasonable our to knock politely on the door with a search warrant and search the house probably would have nabbed the drugs too.

    Stoooopid cops. They got that FBI agent killed.

  17. #17 |  a. depaul | 

    You asked: “Why couldn’t they approach him and arrest him at work? Why not nab him as he’s coming or going from his house? Why was it necessary to tear down the man’s door and rush his house early in the morning, while his wife and kids were at home?”

    I’m going to take a stab at the answer. If I remember correctly from law school crim pro class, in order to execute a search warrant in a home you have to have an arrest warrant and a search warrant. If there is an arrest warrant for the person, you can get a search warrant if you have probable cause to believe that there is a fugitive in the home. Then you execute the search and arrest warrant at the same time and you get to search the home.

    If you nab them outside the home, you don’t get the chance to get the search warrant and you don’t get to search the home, because chances are that you don’t have any probable cause to believe there is evidence of criminal activity in the home – drugs can go in and out in pockets. It’s not like getting a search warrant for a person – it’s easy to obtain knowledge sufficient to constitute probable cause to believe that a person is in the home because people are big and obvious and use doors.

    Arresting people inside the home gives the cop an advantage because it allows them to execute search warrants and obtain evidence they would otherwise not be entitled to search for. That’s why they do it, notwithstanding the danger to themselves or others. It’s a police shortcut that would yield a substantially higher conviction rate.

    That’d be my guess, based on the 6 class meetings of crim pro that I actually went to. And effective prosecution tactic or no, I think it’s despicable.

  18. #18 |  Art Kling | 

    Around here, the city cops are paid extra to do warrants on their off days. I have a friend that does this and he really enjoys the thrill. Only one dead citizen so far.

  19. #19 |  Frank | 

    This is why I keep reading your blog. This may be the best op-ed pieces I’ve read about these raids.

    There’s also the idea of still raiding his house, sure, but only using force if you meet resistance or the suspect tries to run. A nice knock on the door and a showing of a warrant may result in more drugs down the toilet and thus fewer drug busts, but it’ll also result in fewer deaths, and honestly, which one’s more important? I fear that the answers of most citizens and the answers of most law enforcement officials may be drastically different.

  20. #20 |  MacGregory | 

    First of all:
    “The pro-drug-dealer libertarians of the CATO [sic] Institute…”
    This guy really doesn’t get it at all does he? I would prefer that my “drug dealer” be Wal-Mart, K-Mart or Rite Aid. Or better yet me, a few seeds, soil, water, some hyponex and the sun.

    Next, why not nab him to or from work then serve the warrant when the house is empty. It isn’t difficult to trick the wife and kids into leaving their home for some bogus reason.
    Show of force?
    Deterance for other offenders?
    Or maybe they just wanted to slap another charge on him for destroying evidence. Maybe kick the shit out of him in the process.
    At any rate, Dad’s never coming home and its because of Balko and his band of evil Libertarians.
    Roach is such a douchebag.

  21. #21 |  Troy | 

    These cops die because they are amateurs. It’s a simple as that. If they were serious about reducing crime and arresting a suspect, they would first find out who it was they were going after, make a realistic portrait of their mark, find out in which environment he lives, what the risks are, who else might be involved.

    Then, as poster states, the man is a non-violent criminal. I’m not defending cocaine use, I think it’s stupid. I also think it’s stupid to engage in night-time raids for people who are low-level risks. This man can be picked up off the street with no more drama than it takes to tie shoes. It’s all in the way the situation is handled.

    A pro will use the absolute minimum force required to get the job done. And they will succeed because they will be experts in the field, capable of using massively excessive force while knowing when it is appropriate to use it and when it is not.

    A team that knocks down someone’s door, at night, with children in the house, with a wife with a licensed gun [and a partner that she knows is going to get into trouble at some point for meddling in the illegal drug trade] is introducing a totally unwarranted level of risk into equation.

    A professional doesn’t do that. A pro team picks this guy up without any hassle. A real pro team doesn’t go after a two-bit criminal for mere possession. Real pros have bigger fish to catch. Officer Hicks died because he was an amateur who made an amateur mistake. He paid for it with his life.

  22. #22 |  GU | 

    But teh drugs must be stopped at all (civilian) costs!

  23. #23 |  MacK | 

    #17 | a. depaul
    You state “Arresting people inside the home gives the cop an advantage because it allows them to execute search warrants and obtain evidence they would otherwise not be entitled to search for.”

    This makes no sense under a search warrant to me.
    Lets suppose they serve the arrest warrant/search warrant but J. Doe is not home so no arrest can be made, does that then negate the search warrant?
    No they would go ahead and search anyway because they have a search warrant for the property usually the main dwelling and any buildings within the curtilage.
    Now if they have an arrest warrant only they are not allowed to do a search of the home even if the suspect is arrested in the home. They can search adjacent rooms (protective sweep) but only plain sight contraband is admissible.

  24. #24 |  BobG | 

    I think that some departments like the publicity and being able to tell how they knocked down doors and kicked asses. It’s as if they watched The Untouchables too many times, and like the image.
    Just my opinion.

  25. #25 |  Jason | 

    Excellent post. A very complex issue, examined very carefully and very closely. Thanks for the perspective.
    http://rightklik.blogspot.com/

  26. #26 |  Dakota | 

    Another thing that bothers me….If they are so worried about “flushing drugs” why not just turn the water off at the residence.

  27. #27 |  B | 

    It’s simple, really.

    The tendency of people to respond with deadly force to their home being invaded justifies the police tactic of no-knock raids, which increases the chance of the suspect responding with deadly force, which justifies the police tactic…etc., etc., ad infinitum…

    Radley, you spend more time on Mr. Roach’s argument than he really deserves. But in any case, well done.

  28. #28 |  OneByTheCee | 

    I realize this is a bit off topic but I couldn’t resist.

    http://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_11062478

    It’s too bad it wasn’t a LEO! You know, to even the score a little bit!

    Just sayin…

  29. #29 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Great post, Radley – just not sure it’ll convince people who classify us as “pro-drug-dealer”. Always worth a shot though….

  30. #30 |  HTownTejas | 

    I’d imagine that having my home invaded, especially in the middle of the night, would be terrifying. If I’m terrified in the middle of the night I can’t imagine having to determine within seconds whether the invaders terrifying me are criminals, cops, criminals-pretending-to-be-cops, or cops who are acting criminally. The only responsible response is to stop the invasion if you can, then call the cops to sort it out.

  31. #31 |  Mini Marine | 

    I believe in the need for police departments to have SWAT teams trained and ready, there are situations that come about that need them time and again, however, raiding someones house when you can easily arrest them elsewhere is a moronic idea.

    supporting or opposing our current drug laws is a separate issue entirely. this is simply thinking things through, ORM(Operation Risk Managment) is all about minimizing risk, and assaulting a fortified position, and a locked house can be considered to be one, should be a measure of last resort, not standard operation procedure.

  32. #32 |  Tactical Jack | 

    You tell ‘em Radly.

  33. #33 |  SWAT Team Lead | 

    The only mistake that S.A. Hicks made, was not having a 12 man element blow through that house. I’d like to put you in a room and toss a flash bang in, and see how much of a mood you’d be in to fight; the only thing you’ll be doing is wiping the feces off your underwear and blood out of your ears. Overwhelming force works.

  34. #34 |  billy-jay | 

    #26:

    That wouldn’t work. You’d still have one flush left after the water was cut off.

  35. #35 |  z | 

    Why couldn’t they approach him and arrest him at work?
    The innocent people he works with are put into danger.

    Why not nab him as he’s coming or going from his house?
    Impractical really, unless he is completely regular in his comings and goings.

  36. #36 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Excellent work Radley, I think you won that bout. Now a couple comments:
    “More to the point, she was on the phone with a 911 operator during the raid.”
    –Thanks for pointing that out, Radley. That is obviously crucial and is a true indictment of these dynamic entry tactics. You don’t know who you’re dealing with; you hear crashes, you hear screaming, you are scared shitless, you’re afraid for your kids. You make a split second decision. Police are faced with this scenario during critical incidents, so they should be able to understand what is going on here. If more officers learn what is going on in these situations, and think of what they would do in similar circumstances, then the drug war could end pretty quickly.

    #6 Gregory: “I’m someone who has at times considered becoming a cop in spite of–or in some ways because of–the things I’ve read on this blog. I certainly would not want to become one if I get shot dead and then have my death be used to show that the strategy that caused my death works and is necessary.”

    –Good points Gregory, and career-wise, I’m in the same boat as you. Radley’s work has helped me to look at my field more critically, but it has also helped me to realize what is truly important about police work. The job should be about being there for fellow citizens who are in a jam. The job should be about providing services to people when they are at their most vulnerable. The drug war gets in the way. The drug war degrades the quality of policing and wastes resources that could be spent taking the profession to the next level. There are better, smarter ways to provide law enforcement services, and if drug policy ever changes in this country, I think we could experience something of a renaissance in policing.

  37. #37 |  Radley Balko | 

    I’d like to put you in a room and toss a flash bang in, and see how much of a mood you’d be in to fight; the only thing you’ll be doing is wiping the feces off your underwear and blood out of your ears. Overwhelming force works.

    Charming. I hope you really aren’t a SWAT lead. Because you’re really the embodiment of the worst caricature of the typical cowboy SWAT cop.

    And I could site you a dozen cases off the top of my head where the flashbangs certainly confused and bewildered the occupant of a home, but didn’t prevent him (and in some cases, her) from taking up arms against the raiding cops.

    But you’re right about flashbangs in once sense. They inflict significant injury. Which is why they’re wholly inappropriate for most domestic police work. They’re essentially a form of punishment used against everyone in the targeted house–people who in most cases have yet to even be charged with a crime, much less convicted.

  38. #38 |  edward2020 | 

    #33:

    Lets say that the guy works at a Best Buy. Its a simple matter really to find out when he gets off and have a few plain clothes officers pick him up. Guy walks out of the store and then all the sudden the dudes who were smoking cigarettes grab his arms and cuff him. Done deal; no innocents harmed.

    In so far as coming and going from his house, it doesn’t matter if he’s regular or not (hehe). I’m sure that it would easy to find out his employer’s schedule (even easier if its a big company that employs a lot of people since asking for the info would be less likely to tip the guy off). Then, go to his house before or after he gets off work and wait in the neighbors driveway or something. Done deal. No one dies.

  39. #39 |  Why Is This So Hard? « Nicholas Cote | blog | 

    […] by Nicholas Cote on November 24, 2008 Radley Balko, telling it like it is (or rather, how it should […]

  40. #40 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    “But you’re right about flashbangs in once sense. They inflict significant injury. Which is why they’re wholly inappropriate for most domestic police work.”

    Agreed. I just saw a story on the news (NBC evening news, I think) last week about flash bang injuries. The injured parties were FBI Agents and Iraq war veterans, and I think they had the misfortune of getting faulty flash bangs. One of the soldiers lost a hand, and the special agents lost hearing and had other severe injuries. One shouldn’t be too jocular about flash bangs, “SWAT Team Lead.” They are very dangerous, and they could hurt you too.

    Also, I join with Radley in hoping that #33 is not actually on a SWAT team. Overwhelming force might work sometimes, but it doesn’t encourage people to respect their police. For me, this is reason enough to curtail the use of paramilitary tactics in civilian policing.

  41. #41 |  TBoneJones | 

    Google “Tony Creed Task Force Raid” You won’t find the story in a newspaper. I wonder how many similar stories there are out there that the media chooses not to report on? Most people don’t have the means to file lawsuits when their rights are trampled. Unless something terrible happens the news doesn’t even cover it and often downplays it or emphasizes the police “version” of the story on the rare occasions they do. Its awful when cops get shot but in my opinion worse when they kill (or even injure) innocent citizens with their unjustifiably rough handed tactics.

    Personally I’m much more concerned with “public” than “officer” safety. WE pay THEM to protect US. Not sure who came up with the idea but replacing neighborhood policing with federally funded, militaristic, goon squads was a terrible idea. With the jack booted thug approach there’s bound to be causalities and although few and far between, and it will never get close to the number of innocent civilians they injure and kill, every now and then a cops number will come up.
    Given the amount of no knock (or yelling police a split second before they break down the door when they can’t find a judge to rubber stamp a no knock) raids daily across the country I think cops are very lucky they don’t bump into more people willing to use deadly force to protect their homes and families. I suppose the more violent and intrusive they become, the more often it will happen.

  42. #42 |  runcible | 

    As a former police officer I’m… well, I’m at a loss. How many times does this have to happen?
    How many times does the rock have to roll down the hill before someone comes up with a better plan than just pushing it back up again?

  43. #43 |  No Knock Warrants and Drug Raids | Brillianter.com | 

    […] The Agitator » Blog Archive » It Isn’t About No-Knocks. It’s About Home Invasions. The cops never raid the Korbe home in the first place. They approach Robert Korbe at work, or as he’s about to enter or exit his house. […]

  44. #44 |  Coffee! | 

    Ben (the other one): bravo on a level-headed assessment of the situation:

    “I disagree. Police officers don’t “like the violence,” but they do believe forcible entries are necessary for safety or investigative purposes. That belief springs from a number of assumptions, value judgements, and, in some cases, prejudices, that desperately need to be addressed, but which absolutely won’t be if police groups believe that they are being vilified.”

    I think the psyche of the ‘War on Drugs’ can (and has) filled many Ph.D. theses. I believe there is an undercurrent of ‘war’ going on and that the human response to it is not necessarily a socially-friendly one. We take the men and women of law enforcement (all branches), fill them full of rhetoric regarding the evil of these evildoers, put guns in their hands and send them to war. Because this is a failing war we need results, any results—whatever can be scrawled out as a statistic or shown as a sound bite on the evening news. Moreover, no one likes to think themselves part of the losing side which only strengthens law enforcement’s desire to catch the ‘bad guys’. The consequences are self-fulfilling. Until law enforcement, politicians and society can take an introspective look we will all continue down this road.

    Oh BTW, don’t feed the trolls.

  45. #45 |  Jefferson | 

    Well done. Though you broke the cardinal rule:

    Don’t feed the roaches.

  46. #46 |  SWAT Team Lead | 

    Running and gunning, and kicking doors isn’t right for warrant service, but you pinheads dont understand that a supposedly “no risk” collar like at the guy’s place of employment (if he has one), is always problematic. You start doing things in public, and you increase the risk of hostage situations, bystanders getting shot, etc. Additionally, a lot of these scumbags get taken down as part of a multi-suspect investigation, and we’re executing simultaneous warrants all over the city. None of this rings a bell to you, because you have a 1940s view of policing in America, where you think cops should be local beat cops, and the problems being dealt with are the town drunk or a juvenile delinquent. Instead, we’re dealing with complex and violent criminal organizations, 14 year old sociopaths, and multi-time losers who think of the pen as their second home away from home. Guys like this dont respect a badge, or even a badge and a gun–they need to be dealt with “shock and awe” style, at 4 am, with a team of hooded 220 lb guys in balaclavas pointing M4s at their head , safeties off.

  47. #47 |  SWAT Team Lead | 

    Sorry, that should have started “isn’t right for EVERY warrant service”

  48. #48 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I have a question:

    As I understand it, it is a long-standing principle of Common Law that if a death occurs during and because of a felony, the persons responsible for the felony may be charged with murder regardless of who attacked who.

    Has anybody seriously tried to charge raiding Police under the theory that A) If they were charging headlong into the wrong house, and simple due diligence would have told them this, they were performing a felonious act. and B) Since they were committing a felony the death of one of their number is their fault?

    I realize this doesn’t apply IN THIS CASE, but the discussion brought up the thought.

  49. #49 |  Fritz | 

    I’ve been reading Radley’s work on these violent, unnecessary home invasions for quite some time now, but this one hit a little too close to home. The wife of Sam Hicks belonged to a Mom’s Club in a neighboring area, and my wife received this email from one of their members:

    One of our members, Brooke Hicks, lost her husband Sam during the FBI raid on a house in Indiana Twp. Please keep her and their son in your thoughts and prayers.

    My kids are whining for a wii, trashed the house, and broke a favorite dish. My husband walked past the full laundry basket at least a dozen times and still asked for a favor while I was doing 9 other things at one time. I am so grateful.

    Hug your husband and children a little tighter and take time to realize what you have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

    These drug warriors are always worried about protecting “the children”. Well, now one child is going to grow up without a father, and two other children will likely be visiting their mother in prison until she dies.

    All because of what some people choose to put into their bodies.

  50. #50 |  Marty | 

    I’m surprised they’re not busting down doors to search hard drives for evidence of gambling, illegal pornography, prostitution, etc. Catherine Hannaway or some other ‘tough on crime’ bureaucrat will ratchet this war on crime up another notch. To them, this agent getting killed is proof that the bad guys are behind every door. Until consensual crimes are decriminalized, we’re all at risk. Remember, ‘It’s for the children!’

  51. #51 |  Chris | 

    Sorry Swat Boy, this guy wasn’t a hardened criminal sociopath. He was a man living at home with two children in what sounds like a middle class neighborhood. He didn’t fight back against the cops, he went to flush an object. So what, that is the whole point isn’t it? That the “evil” drugs are off the street?

    Then we have the question of why we don’t have the “town drunks” and “JD’s” any more. Could it because making substances people desire illegal gives rise to the crime? If you could buy cocaine, heroin, or pot down at the local liquor store, do you really think that we would have the “drug crime” problem we do now? ALL of the problems with crime and drugs now are due to them being illegal. I know, I know, for a government employee this is a hard concept for you to understand.

    I tell you. I don’t respect any badge or cop. You deserve no respect at all. Kick in my door, my M4 will be pointed at your head.

  52. #52 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I am a “pro-drug dealer” libertarian. Several friends and family work at Biogen and Amgen. Others work at bars. Drugs “is” drugs.

    These home invasions are not needed. I’ve always said they put both POLICE and citizens at risk.

    Meanwhile, almost every cop thinks anyone critical of their actions is a “pinhead”. It’ll be hard to have to an informed discussion about this. Keep that blue line formed, boys, but it won’t keep you safe from the truth or the march of time.

    ps: I’ve met many more pinhead cops than pro-drug activists (like doctors, lawyers, mothers, teachers, business managers, bankers, landscapers…you get the point).

  53. #53 |  Miggs | 

    “Running and gunning, and kicking doors isn’t right for…”

    2/10

  54. #54 |  tarran | 

    Instead, we’re dealing with complex and violent criminal organizations, 14 year old sociopaths, and multi-time losers who think of the pen as their second home away from home.

    Ah, at last we have an argument. I weak one, but an arguemtn nonetheless.

    Hey SWAT Team Lead, you know whythere are such organizations? It’s because guys like you create them. It’s not all your foult. The legistlatures that make the sale of some drugs illegal bear most of the responsibility. However, you guys are far from blameless. The more violently you guys attack the citizenry, the less you will be respected, and the more violent the gangs that oppose you will be. If you guys were fighting a war on cow-milk, arresting cow owners, kicking down doors on to raid refrigerators etc, you would find gangs of milk runners trying to provide milk to customers. And the more people wanted the milk, or the more violently and ruthlessly you tried to suppress the trade, the more violent the gangs of milk runners would become.

    You want to know why inner cities are so bad? Look in the mirror pal. You’re willingness to suit up and bash your neighbors is why things are so bad. If guys like you didn’t enthusiastically agree to make war on your fellow citizens we would be in the 1940’s model.

    Your country would be a better place if you stopped gangbanging and went out and found some decent, honest work.

  55. #55 |  tarran | 

    Ahh stupid tags. It should have been:

    Instead, we’re dealing with complex and violent criminal organizations, 14 year old sociopaths, and multi-time losers who think of the pen as their second home away from home.

    Ah, at last we have an argument. I weak one, but an arguemtn nonetheless.

    Hey SWAT Team Lead, you know why there are such organizations? It’s because guys like you create them. It’s not all your foult. The legistlatures that make the sale of some drugs illegal bear most of the responsibility. However, you guys are far from blameless. The more violently you guys attack the citizenry, the less you will be respected, and the more violent the gangs that oppose you will be. If you guys were fighting a war on cow-milk, arresting cow owners, kicking down doors on to raid refrigerators etc, you would find gangs of milk runners trying to provide milk to customers. And the more people wanted the milk, or the more violently and ruthlessly you tried to suppress the trade, the more violent the gangs of milk runners would become.

    You want to know why inner cities are so bad? Look in the mirror pal. You’re willingness to suit up and bash your neighbors is why things are so bad. If guys like you didn’t enthusiastically agree to make war on your fellow citizens we would be in the 1940’s model.

    Your country would be a better place if you stopped gangbanging and went out and found some decent, honest work.

  56. #56 |  tarran | 

    Oh, and I would like to call your attention to Sir Robert Peel’s 9 Principles. You probably learned them in the police academy since he is the founder of the London police and is widely considered the father of modern policing:

    1. The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.
    2. The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon the public approval of police actions.
    3. Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observation of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.
    4. The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.
    5. Police seek and preserve public favour not by catering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.
    6. Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice, and warning is found to be insufficient.
    7. Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent upon every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
    8. Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions, and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.
    9. The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.

    Again. Do us a kindness. Get honest work. Give up your life of violent thuggery.

  57. #57 |  Sam | 

    trying to resist the urge to feed the trolls…but he’s brought up a valid point or two for argument (once you assume the law being broken is a reasonable one…drug laws are their own discussion) which need addressed.

    Conspiracy arrests *do* require hitting all the people involved at once. Arrests at work *do* put workers and customers at risk.

    The question is whether those points support the raids our fearless leader is advocating. My 2 coppers:
    Multi-suspect arrests must be exceedingly rare. These are the sorts of things politicians tout to support their programs and the paper is far from full of them. I don’t do research into these things, someone (Msr. Balko?) please point us to some published values. If these types of raids were only used in this case I *might* be willing to accept them. That said, even when several individuals must be taken down at once, I believe it is still best to do it outside their home (see below) when possible and the raids should be arranged so that the least dangerous situations evolve (the single guy that’s just a stoner and has a different sleep cycle than everyone else gets the no-knock, not the 9-5 guy laundering money with four kids at home and a labyrinthian home). Evidence so far is that not only are SWAT teams not performing thorough risk evaluations, they’re not even making sure they’re hitting the right home. Repeated failure to take even minimal steps to prevent catastrophic failure over thousands of events means I don’t trust you with this power, no matter how useful you find it.
    That’s just conspiracy raids.

    As to the question of home vs work arrests there are a number of risk factors to evaluate.
    1) Will the subject more likely be armed at work or at home? I submit that in most cases home has the higher likelihood. Even gun-toting thugs aren’t always packing when they hit the grocery store, but they’ll damn sure have it handy at the house. Sometimes this will not be the case and we move on to

    2) Are there more innocents likely to be put in harm’s way in or out of the home? In most work situations and excursions outside the home it is dramatically easier to seperate an individual from bystanders and to minimize false target acquisition. You already have eyes on target and you’re not going to shoot a woman holding her baby because a door opened. Also: bullets travel *very* far. Even shotguns can penetrate several walls, including exterior walls, exposing everyone in the neighborhood to the flying lead. The rifles SWAT commandoes prefer (why? are they more effective at close range for putting someone down? Please. A shotgun is still the first choice to anyone not playing “who looks cooler”) can penetrate dozens of layers of sheetrock and 2-3 exterior walls. I base those statements on video evidence, ammunition manufacturer reports, and personal trials. It’s important to remember this: you’re not minimizing the number of potential victims by attacking someone in their home because homes do NOT contain bullets when they are fired.

    3) Which approach minimizes a subject’s time to react most? I submit that bursting into an office, walking up to someone stocking the aisles at the local Kmart, finding your target on a job site and walking up to him, grabbing him from behind in frozen foods, waiting for him to exit any building while you stand right next to the entrance, etc etc etc…all provide law enforcement with immediate access to the subject. Breaking into someone’s home gives them anywhere from several seconds to a minute or more to freak out and start firing before LEO’s can work their way to a bedroom, lock the place down, and even determine who else is in the house. Catching them outside the house wins by a landslide.

    When we were going after suspected war criminals in Bosnia while I was there, we almost never stormed their suspected hideouts…we always waited for them to move. People are fortified in their home and shit happens when you try to break in.
    Now, there are other reasons to hit the house, but they’re all about how easy it is to nail down evidence (a second team hitting the house at the same time might be in order, but unless it’s a crackhouse no one’s going to be flushing anything when you come to the door. ).

    Please feel free to add your thoughts to the discussion oh fearless SWAT leader…I’m deliberately making the assumption you were attempting to actually have a civilized argument using logic. Past history suggests this is unlikely, but I’ll be pleased if you can offer more useful points to the debate.

    Sorry this is so freaking long. Skimming/clipping it may be in order.

  58. #58 |  paul | 

    It’s about time the police acquired a few Predator drones and a non lethal version of the Hellfire missile..

  59. #59 |  FBI Agent Dead After Following Preferred Libertarian Arrest Procedures « MANSIZEDTARGET.COM | 

    […] and Response:  Radley responded at length to my past, as have many commentators […]

  60. #60 |  z | 

    Poor Radley, today he suggests that arresting people at work is the better and safer way to go, but in this post he wonders why the police put everyone at McDonalds at risk. Which is it?

  61. #61 |  Sam | 

    I submit that McDonald’s is the better place for the action. The problem is that the cops dressed like thugs and mercenaries as opposed to dressing like cops. In that particular case the undercover police did a decent job, the only thing they screwed up was letting the guy get to McDonald’s at all and that I can forgive them since they managed not to burn the building down. A failure of intelligence (information, not capacity) and reaction, as well as inability to make themselves readily known as police, makes this another item where police look bad…but like I said, it beats the house.

    ((seriously, McDonald’s customers didn’t even realize they were police…still think a midnight raid is a great way to make yourself known?))

  62. #62 |  perlhaqr | 

    Guys like this dont respect a badge,

    Neither does anybody else.

  63. #63 |  Marty | 

    several years ago, police in St. Louis county arranged for a buy at a busy Jack in the Box at 4pm. They ended up filling the car with bullet holes and killing one innocent guy and a minor drug user/dealer. LOTS of people could’ve been killed.
    I’m voting against arresting in businesses/public buildings. End prohibition and go after criminals in their homes- don’t put the general public at risk. However, if you end prohibition, the decrease in warrant services and breaking down doors should address everyone’s concerns about violence and public/police safety.

  64. #64 |  Andrew | 

    Poor Radley, today he suggests that arresting people at work is the better and safer way to go, but in this post he wonders why the police put everyone at McDonalds at risk. Which is it?

    How bout neither? Unless you assume that the at-work arrest must be by way of an armed raid, that is.

    Just come up to the guy and arrest him as he leaves work. Have a police car come in and block his car in if you want to be sure. No fuss, no muss, and everyone gets to go home to their families.

  65. #65 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    How stupid are the cop-supporters if they frame the discussion as:

    “Should we shoot up a McDonalds during lunch or shoot up a home with kids in the middle of the night to serve this warrant?”

    Houston, we have located the problem. It is enough to make you NEED drugs.

  66. #66 |  Michael | 

    Z

    That article looks like there was a screw-up. Cops got in too big of a rush and did not wait until the suspect was separated from the public. I thought the strategy was to arrest him OUTSIDE. I guess none, of us, is perfect. But that imperfection put many lives in danger! And John Q public is not very forgiving!

    And, as pointed out, the drugs were brought in BY THE COPS! Is this what the drug war offers? Increasing the danger to everyone? Maybe it is time to rethink the drug problems and the way to, actually, decrease them, in our country!

  67. #67 |  gDavid | 

    I’m all for taking away all firearms, tasers, and pepper spray from all “law enforcement” and giving them a little whistle to blow. Also, no black suits and masks to hide behind. The swat teams need to be disbanded or one team only to a state to be used as a last resort. Law enforcement in this country is more about ‘I’m in control because I have the badge’ and not remembering that they are servants of the public.

  68. #68 |  Red Green | 

    Prohibition is “problematic”. Angry SWAT members are “problematic”. Violent tactics are ‘problematic”. SWAT for “safety” is idiotic. Seems everyone but the SWATzi’s and their shotcallers, already know this to be true. So how do we concerned citizens stop this tyranny? More appearances before congress. They are not listening.

  69. #69 |  ktc2 | 

    SWAT-proof homes?

  70. #70 |  TBoneJones | 

    #48
    There is no possibility of that ever happening. Besides being shielded from personal responsibility for anything they do, by more illogical immunities than imaginable, while participating in raids, the people responsible for filing charges are also cops. (In most counties, trained liars uh I mean lawyers, aka DA’s are the highest level of law enforcement ) In case you haven’t noticed, wrong or right, cops stick together closer than any mafia or gang in history. (Actually, according to their own criteria, which for some reason is not used against them, they are the bigeest gang inb the world)

  71. #71 |  Steve Verdon | 

    The only mistake that S.A. Hicks made, was not having a 12 man element blow through that house. I’d like to put you in a room and toss a flash bang in, and see how much of a mood you’d be in to fight; the only thing you’ll be doing is wiping the feces off your underwear and blood out of your ears. Overwhelming force works.

    Well there you have it.

    By the way, SWAT Team Lead talks a good game, but the hardest criminal he has probably taken down is a jay-walker…with his entire SWAT team.

    I think getting rid of SWAT Teams is the answer. They don’t actually do the job they are supposed to do (i.e. go after the guy with a sniper rifle on the roof, the hostage situation, etc.). Instead they are used to serve drug warrants on non-violent offenders (Sal Culosi anyone). We have them in towns where there have been no murders in a decade. At Columbine they sealed up the school while people died. Basically they suck, but think they are hot stuff.

    Oh, and he clearly is the wrong guy for the job. He likes it. He likes the adrenaline rush, the power, the excitement. These kinds of things corrupt and it seems from his chicken shit anonymous posting he has been corrupted by it. Needs to be rotated out of the unit and put in a chevette doing meter maid work for a few years.

    Conspiracy arrests *do* require hitting all the people involved at once. Arrests at work *do* put workers and customers at risk.

    And arrests at a home puts neighbors and innocent family members at risk. Seriously where I live a 9mm round can go from my neighbors house into mine. The distances are very short. In an apartment building it is even worse with fairly insubstantial walls. And when the cops shoot it is with overwhelming force “shock and awe” you heard it from the Mr. SWAT himself. It is okay to put neighbors at risk, but co-workers? And you wouldn’t send in a SWAT team at his place of work, a couple of guys in suits would do just as well and be quite a bit less conspicuous. Of course you can’t scare the crap out of everyone that way.

    Hell, if you really think there is a risk of a hostage situation you do this.

    1. Contact the employer about the employee.
    2. Mention the risks.
    3. Have the employee’s boss call the employee somewhere to minize such risks, (an office, a conference room, etc.).
    4. Have the police waiting for him.
    5. Arrest him as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

    Surprise. It doesn’t have to be with overwhelming force and machine guns.

  72. #72 |  Sam | 

    Marty (#63):
    The change I’d like to see (besides repealing neo-prohibition) in that case would be that the cops would arrange for a drug buy and then not mess with the guy until the next day, or whenever they could easily pick him up…as opposed to trying to pick him up when his perception is cranked and he’s got an itchy trigger finger.
    Also, innocent bystanders can easily get killed when you assault homes too…in fact they regularly do, as noted on this blog.

  73. #73 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Ah, yes…the reclusive drug dealer who hides out only at his house or at “the office”. Too bad they don’t like to party, work out, drive cars, visit friends, or any number of things where it would be infinitely safer to nab them.

  74. #74 |  Ben (the other one) | 

    I was not a drug prosecutor, but I suspect that the number of one-off search residential search warrants is at least an order of magnitude greater than the number of coordinated takedowns of coconspirators.

    Simultaneous warrants and/or arrests are certainly necessary on occasion, but that possibility is not what should be driving this debate. Most of the cases I have read about do not involve conspiracy-related searches or arrests.

  75. #75 |  a. depaul | 

    MacK:

    You ask:
    Lets suppose they serve the arrest warrant/search warrant but J. Doe is not home so no arrest can be made, does that then negate the search warrant?

    The larger point I was making is that if you claim to be searching in the home, you can prove probable cause and get your search warrant a lot easier. I think there is an objective probable cause belief in addition to the formality of issuing a warrant. If you get a warrant, but there is an objective and subjective knowledge of changed circumstances such that you no longer have probable cause, I’m not sure if you are allowed to execute a search warrant for a fugitive if they have already been arrested. If the arrest happens first, outside of the home, there would be no probable cause anymore for the search. If you go in when you know they aren’t home, that may also fail an objective test of probable cause.

    You also say:
    Now if they have an arrest warrant only they are not allowed to do a search of the home even if the suspect is arrested in the home. They can search adjacent rooms (protective sweep) but only plain sight contraband is admissible.

    All they have to find in plain sight is enough to give them probable cause for another search warrant – which, if the cops burst into your home where you don’t expect them to be, and you’ve left your stash in the bathroom, gets them everything they need to be admissible, i’s dotted and t’s crossed. I can also see potential here for the cops – those “plain sight” affidavits sometimes smell fishy. But for the most part, in the home, where you have an expectation of privacy, the plain sight search is probably going to be all that the cops need. And if not, there’s room to fudge.

    If there are other ways for the cops to get into the house with various other warrants and tactics, I don’t think that negates my argument. The search/arrest combo warrant seems like a pretty heavy, pretty blunt instrument. There is less chance of a technical legal violation that could cause the evidence not to be admissible. I am thinking of this in the context of examining all of the detailed factual allegations of a search warrant as to evidence only, where the officer can be questioned on each point of how he knows there’s drugs there, who he talked to, when that occurred, etc. Each detail necessary to support that kind of warrant is a vulnerability open to question later by judges and defense attorneys.

  76. #76 |  OneByTheCee | 

    #41 | TBoneJones | November 25th, 2008 at 4:17 am
    Google “Tony Creed Task Force Raid” You won’t find the story in a newspaper.

    Can’t find it. Can you provide a link?

  77. #77 |  TBoneJones | 

    It’s fun to yak about it but unfortunately the police have been militarized, the task forces funded, there’s more Judges who will rubber stamp warrants than not, and a new mindset among the police that’s more officer than public safety oriented. Even on regular warrants (as opposed to no knock ones) they kick or battering ram the door as they’re yelling police. A person wouldn’t possibly have time to make it to the door to open it from the couch, let alone the bedroom. Younger cops reared on cop TV shows don’t even know there’s anything unconstitutional or morally wrong about what they’re doing and I doubt would care anyway. (OUR Constitution and how it differentiates us from the rest of the world has basically been removed from the public education system) SO, although with way less frequency than cops injure or murder (Google “Donald Scott Malibu” ) the general public, every now and then a cop’s going to get a taste of his own medicine. Be careful about defending yourself or your family if your door’s getting kicked in. If they say police don’t even ask for ID or to see a badge. Just get on the floor and spread em.. Even if it’s robbers they probably won’t shoot you if you’re just laying there and the police can come and take a report later

  78. #78 |  OneByTheCee | 

    #68 | Red Green |

    “SWATzi’s”

    Clever. I like that.
    But then I’m immature.

  79. #79 |  Marty | 

    sam, I like the idea of arresting in a low-testosterone environment… waiting a day sounds reasonable, but I still can’t get past the whole arresting people for consensual crimes thing.

  80. #80 |  DdC222 | 

    As Americans, we have the Constitutional right to bare arms. But the Constitution is made of parchment, it can’t stop bullets from cops. So what is the point of defending your home from invasion, if actually doing it gets you thrown in a cage, or killed? The problem is like musical chairs. Take a seat when the music stops and that will be your new job. Cops practicing medicine. Doctors busting patients. Judges legislating for the DEAth. Politicians playing God and preachers bowing down to them. While most of the sheople graze on the status weird fauxnews BS. Then a few drug worrier zealots spew hate and false incriminations about not advocating for dead cops? If the citizen with certain drugs bust down an FBI door and shoots them and their babies… then maybe I’ll listen. An FBI agent was shot, bet old Janet Edgar Hoover from Reno is upset.

    Medicinal Pot Caregivers Can Be Persecuted By Jennifer Squires
    CN Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel November 24, 2008 S.Cruz, CA

  81. #81 |  supercat | 

    As Americans, we have the Constitutional right to bare arms. But the Constitution is made of parchment, it can’t stop bullets from cops.

    The purpose of the Constitution is to tell citizens when government agents are acting legitimately and should be supported, and when they are acting illegitimately and should be opposed. It is the responsibility of the citizenry to make use of this information.

    With regard to #48, that’s a question I’ve asked repeatedly but not received much of an answer to. Per the Fourth Amendment and the Supremacy Clause, any search which is unreasonable is illegitimate. Reasonableness and unreasonableness are, at common law, matters for a jury to determine; I expect most juries, if instructed to use common sense, could easily be persuaded that many pseudo-SWAT raids are patently unreasonable.

    If the cops deliberately attack someone in such fashion as to disorient them, it would be unreasonable for them to expect that the target of the attack will identify them as cops. People should be expected to react to such raids with deadly force, whether they are guilty of anything or not. It is fundamentally unreasonable to put potentially-innocent people in that sort of jeopardy without some solidly compelling reason; I doubt such justification exists in even 1% of pseudo-SWAT raids.

  82. #82 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    On some of these raids police were balaclavas masking their face. I can understand this as a form of protection from glass fragments etc. However the first thing one looks at is another persons face. If you see someone wearing a mask breaking in then effectively that person has identified himself as a robber even if they aren’t. You are likely to react quickly before any other form of identification such as “POLICE” written on vests registers. They should not complain if they are misidentified and treated as such. They have set up their own misidentification.

  83. #83 |  SWAT Team Lead | 

    You guys really have no idea what SWAT teams do on a day to day basis. Also, your entire argument is premised on the occasional raid that goes sideways and an innocent gets killed–its like you’re making the “rule” based on the “exception”.

    I won’t stand here and be an apologist for every part time, yahoo team that decides its a good idea to go full bore on the the wrong house such that a good guy buys one in the grape. But you shouldnt be so argumentative to think that EVERY raid goes down like this, either.

    A major metro SWAT team, with full time dedicated officers, and a heavy training schedule, is a tremendous asset. It can be safely deployed for everything from terrorist event, to dignatary protection, to hostage/active shooter, to yes, Virginia–running warrants.

    Cops spend 99% of their day dealing with the 1% of the population that you ivory tower pinheads might–MIGHT–spend 1% of your day encountering (if you’re having a bad day). It’s a bad world out there, and the bad guys have guns, often rifles, some have body armor, some have training in weapons and tactics, and all of them have no compunction about killing.

    It’s very disturbing that reflexive, Libertarian anti-state instincts end up cultivating a mindset where you’d rather see cops killed, than scumbags. You guys are garbage.

  84. #84 |  claude | 

    “It’s a bad world out there, and the bad guys have guns, often rifles, some have body armor, some have training in weapons and tactics, and all of them have no compunction about killing.”

    U forgot badges. They also usually have badges.

  85. #85 |  raven | 

    I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest #1-very, very few “forced entries” ever encounter serious resistance, and #2, A LOT of “swat” team guys DO enjoy the rush. They are sub-selected for it.

    I recommend M.Scott Pecks book, “People of the Lie”. Few folks know he was an Army shrink tasked with figuring out the Mai Lai massacre. If you sub-select from a big enough pool, you can find people who will do ANYTHING.

    And if you think the Police will question orders to do “anything”, I am going to suggest another book to disavow your beliefs- “Ordinary Men, the Story of Police Reserve Battalion 101.”

    After you walk up behind some little girl , put your Mauser to the back of her head and blow her brains out onto the grass, it’s very hard. You puke- and then you shoot the next one. Or maybe a young boy. Blam. No problem, after two or three hundred it’s just a job. Hi, Honey, I’m home!.

  86. #86 |  claude | 

    “It’s very disturbing that reflexive, Libertarian anti-state instincts end up cultivating a mindset where you’d rather see cops killed, than scumbags. You guys are garbage.”

    The real question when it comes to short-dicked control freaks like yourself is if u could ever actually fight someone one on one in a fair fight? I doubt it. Youve probably been a total pussy since your mommy popped u out of the womb 9 months after a broken rubber and bottle of jack daniels on prom night.

  87. #87 |  Aaron Brown | 

    Also, your entire argument is premised on the occasional raid that goes sideways and an innocent gets killed

    Or what Radley calls an “isolated incident“.

    you’d rather see cops killed, than scumbags

    If you reread Radley’s post above (not to mention his other stuff), you’d see that he and the rest of us with similar views want less innocent civilians and less cops to die.

  88. #88 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    Swat Team Lead…uhhhhh calm down dude. Have a little testosterone overload going on there? You’re upset…because regular citizens are upset at being considered disposable fodder by people such as yourself. Where is the logic? What is it that terrifies you guys so much about using more common sense and less firepower and muscle? Maybe because you all have too much of one and not enough of the other? You say it’s not the 40’s. You are right…it is not. Those days have passed us by. And so will yours. Eventually, policing will be done using more common sense and brain power and relics such as yourself will have to find another outlet for your rage and a new way to get your adrenaline rush.

  89. #89 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    SWAT Team Lead,

    If people think that you are just looking for an excuse to use violence then you have created that impression. “I’d like to put you in a room and toss a flash bang in, and see how much of a mood you’d be in to fight; the only thing you’ll be doing is wiping the feces off your underwear and blood out of your ears.” That sounds like you consider terrifying people to be a pleasant thought. You seem to be revelling inthe power that you have over them. Oh, you say they are scumbags. How do you know? All you have is that they are suspected of some crime. Suspected! You have no business acting on the assumption that they actually are guilty.

    You are a polce officer. Dealing out punishments is not your job. You are also not a soldier. Falling for war rhetoric and trying to deal out punishments are refusals to do your job properly.

    If you want surprise and disorientation then there is no way to identify yourself properly. You should only seek these things when the situation is already violent or would become violent without your intervention. Not when it could become violent because of your actions.

    If you have to seek surprise then you need to use enough force to bring the situation to an end quickly. So much force that you should always question whether it is necessary. You seem far too unconcerned with the effect of that force on people even if no one is physically injured. If you traumatise and terrify an innocent person then you have done them a grave wrong. This should disturb you more than it seems to.

    Most people here think that in general evidence preservation is not sufficient reason to run these sorts of risks. Yes,you have anobligation to enforce the law. You also have an obligation to use proportionate means.

    And a thing you shoud get rid of is talking in terms of good guys and bad guys. No one who labels himself as a good guy is one. If you focus on labelling people as good or bad then you are likely to not focus on morally evaluating their acts. Right and wrong aren’t sides. We all can do both. Call yourself a good guy and you are likely to think you don’t need to look at your own actions. And this is the path to becoming a bad guy.

  90. #90 |  Radley Balko | 

    I’m starting to think SWAT Team Lead is a fake. No cop could be that perfect an embodiment of my precise argument about why police militarization is a bad idea.

  91. #91 |  Danno49 | 

    SWAT Team Lead:

    Don’t you and your team of professional thugs have a town with a population of 547 to ‘protect and serve’? Shouldn’t you just stop barking up the wrong tree? No one here is buying what you’re selling. And never will. We’re evolving, not devolving.

  92. #92 |  Red Green | 

    May be a “fake” SWATzoid. But not in his support of SWAT, used inappropriately. Either way, he’s no friend of mankind. Maybe he’ll begin to think about these responses. Maybe he’ll just get angrier…and implode.

  93. #93 |  Sam | 

    Eh, he’s not as bad as *some* trolls.
    Here’s a real use for SWAT:
    http://www.ktvu.com/news/18145632/detail.html

    Funny thing is, I spent a bit of my earlier life wearing body armor, carrying real weapons, and dealing with that “1%” of people looking to kill you if you gave them a chance. When I got back home to the good ol’ USA I remember being astonished to realize that the attitudes I was fighting overseas were represented in police officers. Traffic cops (about 10% of stops I get swaggering jackoffs with their hand on their guns threatening me…they’re always confused when I bite back with a smile. I’ve got the tickets to prove it.), desk jockeys (they usually threaten by proxy “our guys will kick your ass!”), SWAT guys, border control (my old boss’ son in law…not a bad guy, but enjoyed his desert rat appearance a bit too much), even the airport cops (coming back from a trip overseas even my totally oblivious g/f remarked, shocked, on how we were treated like criminals the second we got to the American side) are fascists. I mean that in the basic definition of the term where they believe that massive force and control must be forced on the subjects of government whereas the units of government are sacrosanct.

    I don’t intend to raise arms against them, though I swore to defend against domestic enemies and put on a uniform to prevent shit like Guantanamo (god, I still grit my teeth even writing the name of that place). Best I can do right now is talk about what I think is wrong and try to spread the belief…I just don’t know how to be effective, like Radley. I’m also a little concerned about how many lists I’ve made just by posting on sites like this one, but hey.

    SWAT team lead, you lost your chance to argue with reason by making blowhard statements backed only by your say so. If you’re not willing to put your name and your record behind what you say so we can pick it apart and devour it (I sincerely doubt you’re clean) then you need cold, hard statistics…not bullshit you believe, but backed by public numbers. Try again with some substance please? I don’t mind the drama and the name calling, but it seems like you’re still reading the thread, so it’s an opportunity to change one of our states of mind.
    Of course, you could still be a total troll, but it’s entertaining to feed those once in a while too. Been too long since I wrote out my thoughts in depth.

  94. #94 |  Garrett J | 

    SWAT Team Lead-

    You say it’s like we’re making a rule based on an exception, but the point is, we’re making a rule- That rule is that in order for police to conduct a military-style assault, they make some documented showing that the subject of that assault is in fact a violent individual. What you’re arguing for is no rules at all, no basis for when these tactics should and shouldn’t be used, and that’s precisely what most of the libertarians here can’t wrap their heads around.

  95. #95 |  Cliff | 

    Cops love to invade. They don’t have their finger on the trigger because they care about the humans in the house. They want you to charge so they can kill. They are the violent ones who need who need to be stopped.
    It makes me sick knowing my tax dollars pay the wages of these murders.

  96. #96 |  JT Barrie | 

    We had the exact same rationale for the debacle with David Koresh: those in law enforcement wanted a public relations coup. Shock and Awe is not all about winning against “bad guys”. It’s about impressing the public about the seriousness and credibility of law enforcement. Of course, law enforcement on the drug war has been totally about cowardice and bullying. They won’t appear in public with knowledgeable drug war critics like myself. They are terrified of the truth! Their dishonesty is legendary and cowardice unparalleled. Stealing taxpayer dollars to advance and justify their terrorist tactics is their modus operandi. I have a video on my site on drug testing that says it all about banned drugs and why they are banned.

  97. #97 |  Jim | 

    This is in reply to Sam in #57 who wondered why cops used rifles instead of shotguns. They may appear safer, but really the shotgun offers a much lower chance of survival. Especially at close range. Personally, in close quarters at least, I would rather see cops use things like bean-bag guns which do not kill quite so easily.
    Actually, having grown up in South Georgia, where the cops are dangerous elements of society, I don’t like cops having any lethal weapons. Everyone abuses their power to some extent, why should police be any different?

  98. #98 |  David Nieporent | 

    Also, your entire argument is premised on the occasional raid that goes sideways and an innocent gets killed


    you’d rather see cops killed, than scumbags

    Notice how the times when an innocent person gets killed is treated as merely “occasional,” but the very rare times when a police officer is killed is treated as somehow commonplace.

    Cops like to pretend their jobs are dangerous, but they aren’t particularly so; usually more are killed in motor vehicle accidents than by being shot. Moreover, of the police officers who are shot and killed, virtually none of them are killed while knocking on someone’s door in order to serve an arrest warrant. (Of those killed at people’s residences, most were killed while responding to domestic dispute calls.) (You can find most of the data at the Officer Down Memorial Page.)

  99. #99 |  Lloyd Flack | 

    you’d rather see cops killed, than scumbags

    What people who say things like this forget is that whether a shootinf is justified has nothing to do with who the shooter and the victim are. It is the circumstances of the shooting that matters. Even if the shooter is a scumbag he might have still been justified in his action.

    If you shoot someone in self-defence you do not do so because your attacker deserves to die. If fact he may not, but it might still be necessary in order to protect yourself from serious harm.

    A police officer conducting a surprise raid does not deserve to die for it, even if the raid is unjustified. But if he puts a homeowner in fear for his life and the situation had not already become violent, then it is his fault if he gets shot. And in such a case it doesn’t matter whether the homeowner is scum or not.

    In a surpise attack on a house police cannot adequately identify themselves. Fearing for one’s life is reasonable under the cirumstances.

  100. #100 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » More on the Korbe/Hicks Drug Raid | 

    […] to the drug raid that ended in the death of FBI Agent Samuel Hicks that I wrote about earlier, this letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review gets the problems with the […]

  101. #101 |  Joel Rosenberg | 

    I wouldn’t bet, either way, whether SWAT Team Lead is real or fake, but I will say that such attitudes are not unknown among the doorkicking crowd, and are pretty much the norm among their badgelicking fans.

  102. #102 |  The Pale Scot | 

    I have a feeling that “SWAT Team Lead” is the Shopping Mall Ninja.

  103. #103 |  Rad Geek People’s Daily 2008-12-11 – In which I court public opinion | 

    […] asked for, that somehow proves the folly of libertarian complaints about paramilitary SWAT raids. Radley Balko replied that the basic issue is not about the no-knocks. It’s about the home invasions, and that FBI […]

  104. #104 |  Don Tabor | 

    As someone who has actually had the experience of having police knock down his door ( http://tinyurl.com/5q7tfz ) I can tell you for certain that there is a considerable amount of “fog of war” that occurs in those first seconds when you are awakened by your door crashing in.

    The only reason I didn’t kill a policeman some 36 years ago myself is dumb luck and a gap in a curtain. There is no excuse for intentionally creating such dangerous and confusing situations when there are safer alternatives.

  105. #105 |  Caby Smith | 

    Right on target, as usual… please keep up your great work in covering the injustice… …Justice for Sal !!!!

  106. #106 |  Our Courageous, Consistent, and Totally Useless Libertarians « MANSIZEDTARGET.COM | 

    […] evildoers like Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell in favor of the Agitator, who has never found a puppy or drug dealer he doesn’t like, and who is now showing his high regard for liberty, federalism, and common […]

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