More Militarized Than the Military

Friday, May 14th, 2010

A reader who asks his name not be used writes about the drug raid video from Columbia, Missouri:

I am a US Army officer, currently serving in Afghanistan.  My first thought on reading this story is this:  Most American police SWAT teams probably have fewer restrictions on conducting forced entry raids than do US forces in Afghanistan.

For our troops over here to conduct any kind of forced entry, day or night, they have to meet one of two conditions:  have a bad guy (or guys) inside actively shooting at them; or obtain permission from a 2-star general, who must be convinced by available intelligence (evidence) that the person or persons they’re after is present at the location, and that it’s too dangerous to try less coercive methods.  The general can be pretty tough to convince, too.  (I’m a staff liason, and one of my jobs is to present these briefings to obtain the required permission.)

Generally, our troops, including the special ops guys, use what we call “cordon and knock”:  they set up a perimeter around the target location to keep people from moving in or out,and then announce their presence and give the target an opportunity to surrender.  In the majority of cases, even if the perimeter is established at night, the call out or knock on the gate doesn’t happen until after the sun comes up.

Oh, and all of the bad guys we’re going after are closely tied to killing and maiming people.

What might be amazing to American cops is that the vast majority of our targets surrender when called out.

I don’t have a clear picture of the resources available to most police departments, but even so, I don’t see any reason why they can’t use similar methods.

I’ve heard similar accounts from other members of the military. A couple of years ago after I’d given a speech on this issue, a retired military officer and former instructor at West Point specifically asked me to stop using the term “militarization,” because he thought comparing SWAT teams to the military reflected poorly on the military.

Back in 2007 I wrote a bit more on this:

There’s a telling scene related to all of this in Evan Wright’s terrific book Generation Kill. Wright was embedded with an elite U.S. Marine unit in Iraq. Throughout his time with the unit, Wright documents the extraordinary precautions the unit takes to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties, and the real heartbreak the soldiers feel when they do inadvertently kill a civilian. About 3/4 through the book, Wright explains how the full-time Marines were getting increasingly irritated with a reserve unit traveling with them. The reserve unit was mostly made up people who in their civilians lives were law enforcement, “from LAPD cops to DEA agents to air marshalls,” and were acting like idiot renegades. Wright quotes a gunnery sargeant who traveled with the reserve unit:

“Some of the cops in Delta started doing this cowboy stuff. They put cattle horns on their Humvees. They’d roll into these hamlets, doing shows of force—kicking down doors, doing sweeps—just for the fuck of it. There was this little clique of them. Their ringleader was this beat cop…He’s like five feet tall, talks like Joe Friday and everybody calls him ‘Napoleon.'”

The unit ends up firebombing a village of Iraqis who’d been helping the Marines with intelligence about insurgents and Iraqi troops. Yes, it’s just an anecdote. But it’s a telling one. It suggests that to say some of our domestic police units are getting increasing militaristic probably does a disservice to the military.

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97 Responses to “More Militarized Than the Military”

  1. #1 |  Nando | 

    There is a process to civilian (SWAT) raids, too. They must petition a judge or magistrate for a warrant. We are angry at the SWAT teams for performing these actions but, the truth is, it’s the person signing the warrant who is to blame. No warrant = no SWAT team breaking down the door.

    BTW, I use the word warrant, but I really mean no-knock warrant, not a warrant for someone’s arrest. It’s the magistrate or judge’s job to ensure that these no-knock warrants are only used as a last resort, yet we find that they hand them out like candy.

    Some of these guys are elected to their positions. If we stop electing judges who will just sign their name to anything a cop give them then we can reduce these raids exponentially.

    I’m not saying that we don’t need to educate and train the SWAT teams on how to execute these warrants without injury (to human or canine), or how to do them less dangerously, only that it starts with the guy signing the warrant and authorizing them in the first place.

  2. #2 |  Aresen | 

    Nando makes a good point.

    Fundamentally, we have to convince people that acting like power-mad thugs (and facilitating those that do) is NOT the same as being “tough on crime.”

    Also, we have to convince people that what people do to themselves is none of their F*****G business.

  3. #3 |  Michael Chaney | 

    We are angry at the SWAT teams for performing these actions but, the truth is, it’s the person signing the warrant who is to blame.

    I agree totally with this. But the problem is deeper. Judges have absolute immunity and there is absolutely no reason for them to not sign a warrant. Nothing bad can come of it for them personally, so in the absence of a moral foundation (which is obvious lacking in large segments of the criminal justice system) they have no reason to not sign.

    Giving the judge and the cops personal liability, both civil and criminal, would fix the problem overnight.

  4. #4 |  MikeZ | 

    “Some of these guys are elected to their positions. If we stop electing judges who will just sign their name to anything a cop give them then we can reduce these raids exponentially.”

    This seems like a tough problem to actually solve here. At least with the military every General started out somewhere as a lowly Cadet somewhere. So the method described by our anonymous poster makes a lot of sense. A judge pretty much knows diddly squat about how dangerous a particular situation is so would have to take someone elses word for it. I’m not sure there is a judge who could intelligently decide if a SWAT team is ever neccasary. The judges sole purpose should be to see if there is enough evidence to get by the 4th amendment. A normal judge shouldn’t be involved into the how of the search, because he isn’t qualified. I’m not faulting the judge here, it just isn’t reasonable to ask that every judge be an expert in the law, and military.

    Seems like this particular problem is a legislative one not a judicial one. We really need a law saying SWAT or any forced entry is only allowed for X. As a start holding the state accountable for all damages incured in the raid (even when the suspect is guilty) also seems reasonable. I wouldn’t be surprised if police captains changed their response if they knew every raid will effect their budget.

  5. #5 |  Aresen | 

    Giving the judge and the cops personal liability, both civil and criminal, would fix the problem overnight.

    The inevitable argument against this is that it would “hamstring” the police and judiciary, especially considering how litigious things are nowadays. However, this is not a true argument against personal liability for actions taken in the course of duty, but an argument for more objective standards in tort law (along with implementation of “loser pays” for costs.)

  6. #6 |  JS | 

    There is no way to solve this problem. Oh theoretically maybe but there is absolutely no incentive for any judge to stop rubber stamping warrants and in fact every incentive to do so because if they don’t they fear being seen as not being “tough on crime”

    For the cops there will never be any accountability and they love dressing up and playing army so it will never stop. Hopefully someday the people get pissed off enough to overthrow the government and start over.

  7. #7 |  freedomfan | 

    I echo Nando’s comment about the role of judges in rubber-stamping the warrants. But, the problem exists at all levels and the police and judges are effectively unaccountable. The police who ask for so many such warrants are part of the reason so many are given. They know how to word the request to the judge so that a certain mode of entry is likely to be approved. If they didn’t ask for permission to conduct so many violent raids, fewer would be approved.

    And, of course, the ultimate issue here is one of policy. Even aside from whether prohibition itself is a failure that should come under the knife (which I – and probably many here – think it should), there is just the problem that it is still politically acceptable to use extreme violence in executing these warrants for nonviolent crimes. The blame for that rests with politicians and with the public which consistently elects tough-on-crime (and weak on common sense) candidates.

    We will see progress when town hall meetings start to occur in which a candidate who promises to be merciless in going after drug offenders finds himself booed and subject to questions about whether he approves what happened to Kathryn Johnson, Cheye Calvo, this family in Missouri, etc. And, when he starts giving the glib answers about how we can’t tie the hands of police and how those incidents are rare and how review panels ensure there is no abuse, the public rejoinder must be that the police simply don’t need that power to go after non-violent offenders and that incidents like those will never, ever go away as long as the policy is to turn what should be a routine search or arrest into a violent confrontation conducted with overwhelming force.

    Without that sort of change in public attitude, I don’t see too much hope for progress. Of course, that change in public attitude will come faster as more of these raids are filmed and the unedited video made public…

  8. #8 |  Matt D | 

    Well, I think one of the differences is that the military is actually more accountable to its civilian leadership than many police departments.

  9. #9 |  Economiser | 

    Re: Nando:

    Was this a no-knock warrant? The video clearly shows the police announcing their presence and their warrant before entering. I’m not an expert on Missouri criminal procedure but I don’t think the judge has any say in how a standard knock-and-announce warrant is served. I would imagine that the police have the discretion to serve it via an overnight SWAT raid or via a uniformed cop knocking on the door in the morning.

    The judge is not necessarily to blame.

  10. #10 |  Aresen | 

    freedomfan | May 14th, 2010 at 12:00 pm
    .
    .
    .
    Of course, that change in public attitude will come faster as more of these raids are filmed and the unedited video made public

    Which is why I would advocate that ALL cops be required to carry cams at all times while on duty and they be required to make the videos available to the defense at a minimum. (I would prefer the public in general, but that is never going to happen.)

  11. #11 |  TG | 

    You’ll never see the domestic police adopt a policy of cordoning off the suspect and requesting peaceful surrender in daylight… at least, not for narcotics or any other easily-disposed contraband. One of the objectives of the no-knock warrant and surprise entry is to preserve evidence of the underlying criminal charge. (Note: this is not a defense of no-knock warrants or any of the other tactics that Balko rightly decries, it’s just an acceptance of the law-enforcement aspect of the policy. Change the law and the tactics should adjust accordingly.)

  12. #12 |  dave smith | 

    But there might be an ounce of pot inside the US residence!!!

  13. #13 |  Ben | 

    Not sure I agree with you Nando. To echo MikeZ and freedomfan, the judges don’t know anything about how dangerous serving any particular warrant is. They depend on the police to make that determination, then they just make sure the legal ducks are in a row and sign the warrant. The source problem is the police automatically requesting SWAT raids and no-knock warrants for every drug arrest across the board.

  14. #14 |  Dave Krueger | 

    …a retired military officer and former instructor at West Point specifically asked me to stop using the term “militarization,” because he thought comparing SWAT teams to the military reflected poorly on the military.

    Yeah, I sometimes worry that referring to SWAT as stormtroopers reflects badly on the intellectually superior, white-uniformed, characters depicted in “Star Wars”.

  15. #15 |  qwints | 

    Matt D has it right.

    The military cares much more about what civilians think than police officers do.

  16. #16 |  MacGregory | 

    I think it’s a good idea to get as much mileage as possible from the CoMo video. I suspect we won’t be seeing anything like it in a very long time; not that raids like this won’t continue, more like any existing video will be destroyed and none will be taken in the future. If there is one thing other than thuggery that LEOs are good at, it’s covering their ass.

  17. #17 |  ravenshrike | 

    The irony of your comment Krueger is that the Stormtroopers were much more like the empire’s police force than an actual military.

  18. #18 |  Zargon | 

    Well the thing about the military is that there’s at least a reasonable chance that a fuckup will come back on the ones perpetrating it (both the ones doing it and the ones signing off on it). It won’t always, it probably won’t most of the time, even, but it can. With swat raids, there’s virtually no chance that anybody will ever be held to account for it, no matter what happens. That’s the difference.

    Instances where people even notice, much less do something about it, are statistically nonexistent.

  19. #19 |  Chris Mallory | 

    It isn’t just the no knock warrants. The warrant in Columbia was a “knock and announce” warrant. But the badges only gave, at most, 10 seconds before kicking in the door.

  20. #20 |  Mario | 

    Economiser @ #9 (and Chris Mallory @ #19)

    I watched the video and counted 9 seconds from the time the lead cop gave the first knock to when the door was busted open.

    Whatever the warrant reads or authorizes, that’s effectively a no-knock entry.

  21. #21 |  Wrong Tool For The Job - Page 8 - INGunOwners | 

    [...] MO civilian oversight meeting. Both good reads on a subject that is not going away anytime soon. More Militarised Than The Military [...]

  22. #22 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    If Ed McMahon is outside with a huge check in my name, it’ll take more than 30 seconds for me to get to that door. And it ain’t because I’m flushing my drugs and loading my .50 caliber.

  23. #23 |  Eyewitness | 

    Boyd #21
    If Ed McMahon is outside your door, you have zombie troubles.

  24. #24 |  Bob | 

    I can’t tell if they broke in the door, or if he answered it and they then barged in. Either way, they did not serve the warrant (As SHOULD be required by law) prior to entering.

    This is what people are talking about when they say “Erosion of 4th amendment rights”.

    I also still can’t figure out what they were arresting him for.

    What cops will tell you, is that the “Knock and announce” rule is NOT so that you can saunter up to the door and answer it… it’s so that you know it’s the police prior to breaching the door so you can know to assume an obsequious, compliant position right away.

    Just so we’re clear, SWAT teams do not “Serve search warrants”. they “Occupy and Subdue” through any force the courts will allow, even tacitly.

    The courts have to stop allowing this shit.

  25. #25 |  Cynical in CA | 

    The rogue reserve unit should not have been in Iraq.

    But, then again, neither should the crack Marine unit.

    Call it whatever you want, Radley. America is a free country, right?

  26. #26 |  Nick | 

    What about this raid or this raid? Good info?

    Let us hope cops don’t start shooting people on their way home from a volleyball game or people that happen to be riding in a bus because [insert official reason for aggression here].

    And I definitely don’t want to be around when cops start using missiles to kill civilians from a distance. When it gets to that point, cops will also need a civilian death price list.

    “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,”General Stanley McChrystal referring to the 110 civilians shot at checkpoints in Afghanistan since last summer.

  27. #27 |  djm | 

    If in the 20 or 30 seconds of reasonable time that it takes for someone to answer their door, they can flush their entire supply, then you’re not exactly dealing with Pablo fucking Escobar.

  28. #28 |  Gary | 

    We are now being told that the U.S. war on drugs is failing. In the last 40 years, the cost has been over 1 trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives. I would call that a failure.
    I am ex-military and I do believe that the military cares more about what civilians think than do the police. That is unfortunate. The police have a tough job to do and alienating the civilian population will only make matters worse. Once the civilian population loses faith and trust in the police, it will be almost impossible to turn that around. We are getting close.
    I have just finished watching the World War II series and the behavior of Columbia, Missouri SWAT team more closely resembles the behavior of the Nazi’s that that of our military. Maybe we should stop using the word “militarization” out of respect for our fine men and women serving in the military and start using the word “Nazization” which seems to be more on the mark.

  29. #29 |  thefncrow | 

    “You’ll never see the domestic police adopt a policy of cordoning off the suspect and requesting peaceful surrender in daylight… at least, not for narcotics or any other easily-disposed contraband. One of the objectives of the no-knock warrant and surprise entry is to preserve evidence of the underlying criminal charge.”

    This isn’t really an excuse. Even with a knock-and-announce raid, you only have to give the people in the house a reasonable amount of time to come and answer the door.

    If you’re dealing with a search warrant for actual, substantive evidence, 30 seconds of advance notice isn’t going to make the evidence disappear. And if 30 seconds will make the evidence disappear, you’re probably wasting your time with the search to begin with.

    In either scenario, a no-knock warrant is not justified.

  30. #30 |  jb | 

    When I become exasperated to the point of no return, I consider jamming an icepick into my forehead.

    This is one of those moments.

    Cops do not think like the normal person. I am sorry, they do not. They are trained to see “civilians” (as they call us), as potential enemies. They do! I have relatives and personal friends who were cops—both civilian (does that really apply as a term?), and military SPS. Sorry to say, in their minds, everyone is a bad guy unless a court says otherwise—which means—with a warrant, they have complete license to do whatever in their minds (which they often do!), which is why these events happen.

    Now, I happen to knock doors for a living. 30 seconds? BS to the nth degree. I ring the bell, wait a minute; knock, wait a minute; do it all over again. And this is during business hours. That government lackeys, all dressed up and weaponized as if they had discovered Osama bin Laden’s hideout, wait until the early AM hours, give it 30 seconds before the door gets crunched and dogs get killed and folks get hauled away in cuffs for the aberrational “reefer madness” left over from the 1930’s, is either institutional madness, or proof that gummint will rule your life, citizen.

    It is perhaps time to apply Posse Comitatus not only to the military, but to the formerly civilian police forces that routinely ignore the law (But we got a warrant to bust down your door.

    Not for cannabis, or anything else illicit, but I went through this silly horse hockey two times—both times after midnight (reminds me of John 3:19-21). Both times I asked the poh-lice ossifers involved—“Warrant? Charge? Why are you waking me and my family up for no reason whatsoever?”

    Both times they apologized. I might have been merely lucky, or they got a contact from headquarters that a new supply of donuts and coffee had just arrived. Whatever—they left.

    Long and short, though? My body, my decision. It is that incredibly simple. If my body is not my own, freedom is a myth.

    And Sports Fans–that is the attitude that every American must not only attempt to have, but regain.

    Once . . . long, long ago, we were a free people.

  31. #31 |  Didn’t Mean to Log This One « Oh, My! | 

    [...] From the Rad [...]

  32. #32 |  DPirate | 

    The police cannot set up a perimeter and wait/knock. It isn’t that they haven’t the resources, but that the suspect will flush the drugs. That is the simple fact of no-knock/surprise/forceful -entry search warrants.

    It is quite simple to solve, in the most obvious way, by ending prohibitions on drugs.

  33. #33 |  Officer Zealot | 

    unnecessary civilian casualties

    And this phrase means what, please?

  34. #34 |  EH | 

    I couldn’t care less if warrant service procedures allow people to flush drugs down the toilet. If they’re truly criminals, then you’ll be able to pick them up when they resupply.

    But the police are becoming dumber and dumber, with fewer and fewer trained responses for on-the-job situations. Ignore, Ticket, Taser, and Kill. That’s pretty much it these days, and I am fully convinced that the increased police aggression toward the citizenry is due to a failure of training and a reduction in standards. It’s the police who are hiring worse people; crime is down overall.

  35. #35 |  jb | 

    EH—

    Just a Q (as in “question) . . .

    Is my body mine to do with what I wish, or does it belong to gummint, who will tell me what I can or cannot do to my own body?

    :-)

    (Your second paragraph was pretty spot on, but your first paragraph merely defended the cops, rather than address root issues.)

  36. #36 |  JS | 

    I’ll believe this country cares about freedom when they bring the troops home and turn them on the police.

  37. #37 |  Mario | 

    This question is brought up again and again, but it needs to be reiterated. Why don’t the police simply pick these people up when they’re outside of their homes?

    Is everyone in the house a threat? I would think that, given a bit of rudimentary investigation, the real threat — if there is one — could be identified and picked up when he’s all alone and away from the house; meanwhile, a warrant could be served at the home in a manner befitting a civilized, free society.

    Follow the money. There are no federal funds for suits and ties — only automatic weapons, shields, and body armor.

  38. #38 |  Michael Chaney | 

    They depend on the police to make that determination, then they just make sure the legal ducks are in a row and sign the warrant.

    Theoretically, yes. In reality, no. Again, there is absolutely no reason (aside from having morals) for a judge to care if the legal ducks are in a row. He has absolute immunity and cannot be subjected to any kind of repercussions of any kind for doing it wrong. He has no reason to care. (Yes some judges are elected, but even in those cases I would argue people don’t know or care for 99.99% of the cases)

    The police cannot set up a perimeter and wait/knock. It isn’t that they haven’t the resources, but that the suspect will flush the drugs.

    I don’t know about you, but in my town the water line accesses are a pretty obvious rectangle in the front yard which can be opened by hand and the water turned off far quicker than a door can be knocked in. This “problem” is along the same lines as “the dogs that just have to be shot” even though mailmen, the fedex and ups guys, meter readers, etc. seem to get by without having to shoot dogs. It’s way funner to bust the door in and rough people up than to do things properly.

  39. #39 |  J | 

    @38: Even if you turn the water off, there is still water in the toilet tank, enough for a flush.

    Plus, the exit point of the flushed drugs isn’t a water line, it’s into the sewer, so it’s not feasible to ‘catch’ the flushed items.

    But like the previous commenter stated, obviously we aren’t dealing with no fucking escobar.

  40. #40 |  Dakota | 

    Question about the whole flushing drugs thing. Can’t the cops get the water company to turn the water off, from the line in-between the street and the house? Honestly.

  41. #41 |  Dakota | 

    Crap should have read all the comments. Sorry for wasting pixels.

    Okay but feasibly how much by weight could you flush with one (likely) 2G tank. Maybe a lot of blow maybe but more then an ouce of weed.

  42. #42 |  jb | 

    Stop rhymes with cop.

    When Americans get that, most of this crap will stop.

    Until then . . .

  43. #43 |  BSK | 

    Not only do the cops have leeway, but they have more armor, generally speaking. -Vomit-

  44. #44 |  Officer Zealot | 

    Comment #33 was meant facetiously.

  45. #45 |  supercat | 

    //Plus, the exit point of the flushed drugs isn’t a water line, it’s into the sewer,//

    So, hire Mike Rowe to go into the sewer and put a catch-bag over the house’s drain outlet.

    //Oh theoretically maybe but there is absolutely no incentive for any judge to stop rubber stamping warrants and in fact every incentive to do so because if they don’t they fear being seen as not being “tough on crime” //

    The solution would be to allow defendants to have jurors evaluate all the factual issues related to their case, including (1) whether real probable cause existed for the search, and the police seeking the warrant did not withhold information which might have caused a judge not to issue it; and (2) whether the search was executed in reasonable fashion; a jury which finds that a search fails (1) or (2) has a right and duty to ignore any evidence from the search that would be adverse to the defendant.

    If the police make a bona fide effort to secure probable cause and conduct a search in even halfway-civilized fashion, a jury isn’t apt to second-guess them. On the other hand, if police knew that they’d sabotage their cases if they used deception to get warrants or used grossly unreasonable tactics to conduct searches, they’d have an incentive not to cheat.

  46. #46 |  Section8File13 | 

    Officer Zealot, wow a little bitter about this article?
    I can only hope that the law enforcement community begins to see the error in its ways and decides to treat civilians with respect and dignity. and SWAT to stop waging war on its own people. it is shameful for anyone to enjoy putting a gun in their own peoples faces. I hope that LEO’s understand that a smug ,holier than thou, make my day attitude is what most people see from them. I know there are many many good police in our country, and I hope they stand up and oust these bad apple cops so the trust can be restored to the people about they’re law enforcement,

  47. #47 |  MikeL | 

    Sadly, this is starting to seem like a good idea.

  48. #48 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Even if you turn the water off, there is still water in the toilet tank, enough for a flush.

    Yes, one flush. Good luck with that. Remember that these people supposedly have tons of drugs in their house, so one flush shouldn’t make a big difference.

    This is all silly talk, anyway. It’s obvious that the point of swat raids is to make it fun for the cops to shoot dogs, rough people up, tear up the house, etc. while at the same time providing some punishment for the suspects. Applying logic is fun but pointless.

    In a world where people think prison rape is funny and good because those prisoners get punished real good – and, besides, it’s easy to stay out of jail, you just don’t commit crimes – it’s hard to imagine people getting too upset over a broken door. It only happens to criminals, anyway, right? If they don’t want their door broken, they shouldn’t be using drugs.

  49. #49 |  Aresen | 

    MikeL | May 14th, 2010 at 8:03 pm
    Sadly, this is starting to seem like a good idea.

    Uh. Care to elaborate on ‘this’?

  50. #50 |  Xenocles | 

    The thesis is especially salient given that four Navy SEALs just went through courts-martial because the mass-murderer they apprehended said they punched him. On the other hand, if cops hit the wrong house and kill people, it’s stonewall, ignore, and ‘thin blue line.’

  51. #51 |  John Wilburn | 

    #45 supercat

    “The solution would be to allow defendants to have jurors evaluate all the factual issues related to their case, including (1) whether real probable cause existed for the search, and the police seeking the warrant did not withhold information which might have caused a judge not to issue it; and (2) whether the search was executed in reasonable fashion; a jury which finds that a search fails (1) or (2) has a right and duty to ignore any evidence from the search that would be adverse to the defendant.
    If the police make a bona fide effort to secure probable cause and conduct a search in even halfway-civilized fashion, a jury isn’t apt to second-guess them. On the other hand, if police knew that they’d sabotage their cases if they used deception to get warrants or used grossly unreasonable tactics to conduct searches, they’d have an incentive not to cheat.”

    In the Ryan Frederick case, the Chesapeake Police Dept. sent burglars to Mr. Fredericks house to secure “evidence” that he was growing reefer – effectively doing an end-run on the Fourth Amendment…

    The “evidence” was never turned over to the police by the burglars, but the police told the magistrate that their “CI” (one of the burglars) had been in Mr. Fredericks house, and had seen the “grow operation…”

    On this basis, the search warrant was issued by the magistrate…

    When Mr. Frederick’s attorney submitted a motion to the court, asking for an investigation by the court, questioning the validity of the warrant, the motion was denied, so the jury never heard anything to indicate whether or not the warrant was obtained legally…

    Keep in mind that the police, Prosecutor and Judge are all on the same “team,” and have absolute control (especially the judge) over what the jury sees, hears and deliberates over,,,

    It’s enough to make a preacher cuss…

  52. #52 |  MikeL | 

    “Uh. Care to elaborate on ‘this’?”

    Sure. The guy in the link has the word “Don’t” tattooed on the back of his left arm and “Shoot” on the back of his right arm, thereby creating the message “Don’t Shoot” when his hands are on his head and a cop has a gun pointed at his back.

  53. #53 |  Eric Seymour | 

    No argument here that the military is way more professional in its use of force than most police departments. But it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. The military has much more freedom to revert to a “shoot first, ask questions later” mode if things don’t go the way they want them to in a battlefield situation (including urban “battlefields”). Recall the recent Wikileaks video where the military shot up a whole group of people, some of whom were unarmed. Under the rules of engagement, the shooting was justified.

    I would suggest that this lethal “back-up option” gives soldiers the “luxury” of giving their targets the option of taking the path of least resistance. Insurgents know they are very likely to be shot dead if they try to run from the US military. Criminals know that if they don’t make the mistake of aiming a weapon at a cop, the most they probably have to fear is being tased.

    Again, none of this excuses the abuse of force by police departments, especially against non-violent offenders. I just don’t think the military is some kind of paragon of restraint.

  54. #54 |  Eric Seymour | 

    @MikeL #52,

    Nitpick: those tats appear to be on the front of his arms.

  55. #55 |  Officer Zealot | 

    Section8, and Comment #33’s other karma-subtractors: My radar seems to have been off today. My point was intended align with (almost) everyone else’s here, namely that too many cops act as though lives of “civilians” were dispensable. This makes them zealots, which they should not be, nor should they be cops.

    The comment and its handle were both facetious. I’m not actually a cop.

    I’m a libertarian, which should in fact be a requirement for being a cop.

  56. #56 |  TimTomato | 

    During the Question and Answer period, David Horowitz had a chilling exchange with a member of the MSA, a Student, in which he prodded her to reveal the depraved depths of her Jew-hatred. What’s shocking is not so much that she holds such views, but rather that she was willing to admit it. – 05 10 2010

  57. #57 |  Aresen | 

    Mike L:

    Thanks, missed the link on the first pass.

  58. #58 |  Frank | 

    Ottawa Hills officer found guilty.

    http://toledoblade.com/article/20100514/NEWS02/5140348/0/NEIGHBORS

    Looking forward to 11 years of this pig bent over a prison bunk.

  59. #59 |  Laura Victoria | 

    This is a statement from Deputy Chief Dresner – Killed Dog Wore a Pink Sweater:

    “At some point a news outlet may publish the photo of this dog. I hope they don’t of the other one for obvious reasons. But in the interest of trying to establish credibility and transparency, I can admit that the deceased dog was wearing a pink sweater at the time it was killed. I believe that fact will make everyone who’s angry at us angry all over again. But it’s the truth.”

    Really. You think the fact that it’s a female pup in a pink sweater will make the instant kill not really seem so necessary by your high school GED goon squad? Yep, and we know, you don’t like the internet either.

    http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2010/05/12/public-airs-frustrations-police-citizens-review-board-meeting/

    A lot of readers at this paper and the Tribune are making the valid point that this DA Dan Knight needs to be gone after. And the judge who signed the warrant. It’s true, the pressure is to be on the LEO team. So we need to apply pressure from the other direction. Make them fearful over excessive use of SWAT force. Make them perform more due diligence.

    I think this DA that is doing squat against the cops and filed the child endangerment charges is coming up for re-election.

  60. #60 |  Section8File13 | 

    Officer Zealot, sorry for my comment then I misunderstood it’s meaning. :) again my apologies.

  61. #61 |  JS | 

    Did this ever make the MSM? If not that is as big a part of this story as the rest.

  62. #62 |  Peter | 

    If you want to see a story about a dog expressing his opposition to militarized police, check out this link:
    http://drugoi.livejournal.com/3246616.html

    Apparently, this Athenian dog has been taking part in protests for two years. Be sure to check out the video at the bottom from the 2:30 mark.

  63. #63 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Highest props from this citizen to the Army officer for his informed opinion. I hope s/he will consider joining his/her local police force to straighten out some of these wannabe Rambos.

  64. #64 |  Andrew Williams | 

    Boy, do I need an EDIT b utton. Please read “his” and “he” for his/her and s/he. No disrespect intended–just carelessness on this reader’s part. : (

  65. #65 |  Andrew Williams | 

    #9 “The video clearly shows the police announcing their presence and their warrant before entering.” Which gave the people inside about 6 seconds to wake up out of a sound sleep and respond before having their door caved in and their dogs shot at. Even Superman couldn’t have responded that quickly.

    You try that sometime. Then come and see me so I can kick your ass while telling you what an asshat you are.

  66. #66 |  Andrew Williams | 

    1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…aw, fuck it!

    BAM! “POLICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DOWN ON THE FLOOR NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  67. #67 |  Max D. | 

    Compare and contrast SWAT raids on “civilians” with the arrest of a detective:

    “Avalos was taken into custody without incident Thursday by Los Angeles Police Department detectives while he was off duty in Placentia, LAPD Det. Gus Villanueva said.”

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/crime/la-me-embezzle-lapd-20100515,0,5050880.story

    But…but what if he’d flushed the money!?

  68. #68 |  Frank | 

    #66

    “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

  69. #69 |  malcolm kyle | 

    Prohibitionists dance hand in hand with every possible type of criminal one can imagine.

    An unholy alliance of ignorance, greed and hate which works to destroy all our hard fought freedoms, wealth and security.

    We will always have adults who are too immature to responsibly deal with tobacco alcohol, heroin amphetamines, cocaine, various prescription drugs and even food. Our answer to them should always be: “Get a Nanny, and stop turning the government into one for the rest of us!”

    Nobody wants to see an end to prohibition because they want to use drugs. They wish to see proper legalized regulation because they are witnessing, on a daily basis, the dangers and futility of prohibition. ‘Legalized Regulation’ won’t be the complete answer to all our drug problems, but it’ll greatly ameliorate the crime and violence on our streets, and only then can we provide effective education and treatment.

    The whole nonsense of ‘disaster will happen if we end prohibition’ sentiment sums up the delusional ‘chicken little’ stance of those who foolishly insist on continuing down this blind alley. As if disaster wasn’t already happening. As if prohibition has ever worked.

    To support prohibition is such a strange mind-set. In fact, It’s outrageous insanity! –Literally not one prohibitionist argument survives scrutiny. Not one!

    The only people that believe prohibition is working are the ones making a living by enforcing laws in it’s name, and those amassing huge fortunes on the black market profits. This situation is wholly unsustainable, and as history has shown us, conditions will continue to deteriorate until we finally, just like our forefathers, see sense and revert back to tried and tested methods of regulation. None of these substances, legal or illegal, are ever going to go away, but we CAN decide to implement policies that do far more good than harm.

    During alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, all profits went to enrich thugs and criminals. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on treatment. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?

    In an underground drug market, criminals and terrorists, needing an incentive to risk their own lives and liberty, grossly inflate prices which are further driven higher to pay those who ‘take a cut’ like corrupt law enforcement officials who are paid many times their wages to look the other way. This forces many users to become dealers themselves in order to afford their own consumption. This whole vicious circle turns ad infinitum. You literally couldn’t dream up a worse scenario even if your life depended on it. For the second time within a century, we’ve carelessly lost “love’s labour,” and, “with the hue of dungeons and the scowl of night,” have wantonly created our own worst nightmare.

    So should the safety and freedom of the rest of us be compromised because of the few who cannot control themselves?

    Many of us no longer think it should!

  70. #70 |  Dan | 

    Demand that Columbia, MO Police Deputy Chief Tom Dresner stop covering for his boys in SWAT and RELEASE THE NAMES of the officers involved in the dog shooting raid.

    Tom Dresner
    8220 S Tomlin Hill Rd
    Columbia, MO 65201-9238
    (573) 874-0956

  71. #71 |  Officer Zealot | 

    Arrest that Section8 civilian! ;-)

  72. #72 |  Officer Zealot | 

    Bust that Section8 civilian! ;-)

  73. #73 |  Officer Zealot | 

    Mr. Balko, your screening process is on the fritz. It bounced my Comment #70, claiming it was a duplicate (with no chance to appeal). I tried again, got the same message. Then I paraphrased it to Comment #71, and it posted both comments.

    I think your software could have a future in law enforcement, but it’s too objective in its caprices; I’m not even black!

  74. #74 |  Section8File13 | 

    lmao

  75. #75 |  The Home Front § Unqualified Offerings | 

    [...] Radley Balko has some interesting contrasts between no-knock raids in drug busts in the US and house… [...]

  76. #76 |  SJE | 

    My two comments got deleted too….WTF?

  77. #77 |  Dr. Frank | 

    Question: why was this guy arrested?

    I’ve posted this on discussion threads at the Columbia Trib and the Columbia Missourian and no one seems interested enough or knowledgeable enough to answer, and it’s really puzzling me. What am I missing? Anyone here have any idea?

    (Apologies if this question has been addressed somewhere, and if so, please point me to the answer.)

    I’m really confused as to why Mr. Whitworth was arrested.

    According to this: http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Columbia_Code_of_Ordinances/Chapter_16/255.2.html

    “When any law enforcement officer suspects any adult as defined by state criminal statutes , other than those excluded herein, of possession of a misdemeanor amount of marijuana and/or possession of marijuana paraphernalia, that person shall not be required to post bond, suffer arrest, be taken into custody for any purpose nor detained for any reason other than the issuance of a summons, suffer incarceration, suffer loss of driver’s license, or any other punishment or penalty other than the issuance of a summons.”

    Why was he arrested? Is it because of prior arrests/convictions, as excepted in section C. ? If so I can’t find a specific reference to that in any of the case documents released so far, and I’m wondering how it’s established whether or not someone is protected by (b). By what procedure do police decide and establish this about a suspect? Did they go in there knowing, i.e. “okay if we find nothing more than residue or paraphernalia we can arrest him anyway because of conviction x, y, or z?” And if so, doesn’t the fact that they arrived at that conclusion need to be documented somewhere? Or is it, in the end, the officers’ judgement that determines whether or not to arrest someone (Seems like a clear violation of the statute: there must be something I’m not getting.)

    Or is it the “endangerment of a child” charge that makes him arrestable? (And wouldn’t that amount to a nullification of the statute for anyone who has kids, regardless of prior arrest record? If so are there other charges like that that could nullify the statute for people with no kids?)

    What is different about Mr. Whitworth that exempts him from the (apparently) plain meaning of the law prohibiting his arrest?

  78. #78 |  Section8File13 | 

    Dr. Frank, great question, I have asked this one before with no response. when Whitworth was read his rights they never said what he was charged with. and at that time they did not have any evidence (pipe or grinder) so was the arrest illegal? I think so.

  79. #79 |  Randy | 

    As someone wrote on another blog (I think it was Power and Control blog), police use these “dynaminc” entry tactics in drug cases because getting their hands on the contraband evidence is more important than the safety and well-being of both the officers serving warrants and that of the occupants inside the home.

  80. #80 |  KBCraig | 

    As someone wrote on another blog (I think it was Power and Control blog), police use these “dynaminc” entry tactics in drug cases because getting their hands on the contraband evidence is more important than the safety and well-being of both the officers serving warrants and that of the occupants inside the home.

    You’re right that they’ve mostly quit trying to claim “officer safety” except as boilerplate that no one really believes. This also puts the lie to the claim that they want to “get drugs off the streets”, and here’s why: if they set up a cordon and sent one uniformed officer up to knock on the door and announce with a bullhorn that they have a warrant to search for drugs, then repeated every five minutes until someone opens the door, you can bet that house would be 100% drug free by the time they executed the warrant.

    And isn’t that the supposed goal?

  81. #81 |  GreginOz | 

    Dunno about The States but here in Oz I love the War On Drugs. I’ve been enjoying the Hydge/Sinsemilla for around 30 years. Despite my Gummints best efforts prices have gone down a tad & quality is epic! So, with market-forces (sic) (ie pigs) at work the system of Agorism actually works. Who cares if it’s illegal? Not me, last time the Oink got me they issued a Cannabis Caution coz the courts are so overworked that I am not a burning (get it?) issue!!! Of course, we don’t have a nationwide epidemic of thuggish, brown shirt, oafs, issued with milgrade equipment, attacking their own citizens…and killing them.

  82. #82 |  Bubba Man | 

    to quote qwints | May 14th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    “Matt D has it right.

    The military cares much more about what civilians think than police officers do.”

    This may have something to do with the fact that the military fellows get shot at with a whole lot more regularity and the folks doing the shooting are a whole lot less random. So they seem to be better at figuring out who the enemy really is rather than just thinking that everyone out there is the enemy.

    However, as unhappy as I am about this kind of thing, I still think we are doing the average cop a disservice. It must really screw them up doing a couple of years of counter-narcotics.

    -Bubba Man.

  83. #83 |  Bubba Man | 

    To Quote “MikeZ” | May 14th, 2010 at 11:53 am

    “Seems like this particular problem is a legislative one not a judicial one. We really need a law saying SWAT or any forced entry is only allowed for X. As a start holding the state accountable for all damages incurred in the raid (even when the suspect is guilty) also seems reasonable. I wouldn’t be surprised if police captains changed their response if they knew every raid will effect their budget.”

    I think this may be the best proposed solution I’ve heard yet.

  84. #84 |  TXMarko | 

    @68 “All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

    Great point, Frank!

    Why is it that “civilian” dogs are fair game for shooting (and it happens a LOT, just Google “cop shoots dog” and sift through over 4 MILLION hits), yet many States have laws on the books that prosecute a “civilian” for Murder of a Public Servant if he/she shoots a police working dog?

  85. #85 |  Release | 

    Here is the list

    Thomas Quintana
    Scott Hedrick
    Kyle Lucas
    Sergeant Roger Schlude, Team Leader/Breacher
    Robert Fox, Pry Tool
    Lance Bolinger
    Micheal Parsons
    Parimeter Team
    Richard Horrell
    Crystal Clements
    Cathy Dodd
    Shooters
    Roger Schlude
    Micheal J Cavender
    Tomas Quintana
    Warrant Obtained by Ron Hall

    Here is where to download the police report

    http://rapidshare.com/files/388138469/0512_swat_incident_report.pdf

  86. #86 |  Section8File13 | 

    In regards to the Columbia MO. city council meeting Monday 17th at 7pm.

    Outstanding, thank you Spencer Pearson and Holly Henry for your addressing the Council tip top. I am proud of you. you are TRUE AMERICAN’s and thank you for all whom could attend the meeting, I attended via Streaming video, and that is documented on the site via usage logs and IP addresses assessing the media. reason I say this is because this is as Spencer and Holly said “the world is watching” yes we are. and that can be proven. I salute you two for speaking for all of us and being professional in your representing us to Columbia MO. council meeting. Again Thank You for making a stand and requesting accountability. Thanks to all whom stood up literally and were a physical representation of this whole nation that is watching and waiting for answers and change.

    sincerely Ricci Scott.

  87. #87 |  Rad Geek People’s Daily 2010-05-18 – Lethal force | 

    [...] a follow-up post on the Columbia, Missouri raid, Radley Balko posted a letter from a government soldier who took umbrade at his watch-word of [...]

  88. #88 |  Lethal Force « Little Alex in Wonderland | 

    [...] a follow-up post on the Columbia, Mo. raid, Radley Balko posted a letter from a government soldier who took umbrade at his watch-word of [...]

  89. #89 |  Greg aka Flatland Nautilus | 

    I was in the Marine Corps Reserve with people exactly like the second letter. They abuse their power because of what I derogitorily refer to as “little man syndrome.” They exercise power over those with less in a beligerent authoritarian, almost fascist, manner. It is sad.
    I firmly believe that if you want to be a police officer you should have to get a degree with an emphasis on psychology or sociology, no less than a bachelors.

  90. #90 |  Michael | 

    “Some of these guys are elected to their positions. If we stop electing judges who will just sign their name to anything a cop give them then we can reduce these raids exponentially.”

    I find this comment interesting. Here on the Canadian Internet lately a lot of people gripe and whine about judges here (who aren’t elected) who “let the guilty party” off by actually requiring evidence etc.

    Many of these gripers would like to see Judges getting elected so that they “do the will of the people”, something I always found akin to a “civilized lynching”.

    Either way, your comment confirms my suspicion that we’re better off not having our Judges elected.

  91. #91 |  links for 2010-05-21 « Clint’s Test Blog | 

    [...] WAR ON DRUGS: Swat Teams and the Military : Dispatches from the Culture Wars It turns out that our SWAT teams raid american citizens with fewer restrictions than our military in Afghanistan has while raiding homes there. [...]

  92. #92 |  Adventures In Paranoia: the Afghan counterinsurgency as practice for the home front | Grobstein | 

    [...] you. Along with the dramatic overgrowth of SWAT team policing, we are remaking local police as the most poorly trained and least disciplined command of the US military, with all of the fancy necrotoys and none of the [...]

  93. #93 |  everyone should put cnn on - Page 3 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum | 

    [...] No-knock "drug war" warrant = dead dogs, ruined home – Gordon Wagner – Open Salon More Militarized Than the Military | The Agitator __________________ "Behind every great fortune lies a great crime." (Honore de [...]

  94. #94 |  CATO & Liberty: More Discipline for SEAL in Afghanistan than SWAT Officer in Fairfax? « Center for Intelligence News Study | 

    [...] some instances, to call this “police militarization” is to slander the military. Here are some parallel thoughts from Radley Balko, and a whole lot more on paramilitary police raids in Radley’s Overkill and at [...]

  95. #95 |  More Discipline for SEAL in Afghanistan than SWAT Officer in Fairfax? | Cato @ Liberty | 

    [...] some instances, to call this “police militarization” is to slander the military. Here are some parallel thoughts from Radley Balko, and a whole lot more on paramilitary police raids in Radley’s Overkill and at [...]

  96. #96 |  Could Navy SEAL Dogs Be Used in the War on Drugs? | insurancepetmed.com | 

    [...] Radley Balko has pointed out before, some SWAT teams across America are already more militarized than the military. So my concern when I see this “badass” technology on these dogs is that it’s probably fairly [...]

  97. #97 |  Philosophers on Drugs | Bleeding Heart Libertarians | 

    [...] out on one of the greatest advantages of full legalization: the reduction in criminal violence, police militarization, massive expense, and infringement of civil liberties that would be had by ending the war on drugs. [...]

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