SWAT Team Sent to Collect Student Loans

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

No, I’m not exaggerating.

Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers,” Wright said.

Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as a S.W.A.T team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

“He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there,” Wright said.

According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11 and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.

As it turned out, the person law enforcement was looking for was not there – Wright’s estranged wife.

“They put me in handcuffs in that hot patrol car for six hours, traumatizing my kids,” Wright said.

Wright said he later went to the mayor and Stockton Police Department, but the City of Stockton had nothing to do with Wright’s search warrant.

The U.S. Department of Education issued the search and called in the S.W.A.T for his wife’s defaulted student loans.

UPDATE: The Dept. of Education says the raid was not for loan collection but part of a criminal investigation into some sort of white collar crime (they didn’t offer much detail beyond that). As Matt Welch points out at the link, that still isn’t an appropriate use for a SWAT team, and still leaves a hell of a lot of unanswered questions.

 

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79 Responses to “SWAT Team Sent to Collect Student Loans”

  1. #1 |  Comrade Dread | 

    What the fuck? Seriously, what the fuck?

    SWAT teams as debt collectors? What, were they afraid if they sent a couple of deputies who would knock, she’d what? Flush all of her money down the toilet?

    Sigh… well, I suppose freedom was nice while it lasted.

  2. #2 |  djm | 

    Well with crime rates in decline and all that paramilitary gear, wasn’t this just the next logical step?

  3. #3 |  djm | 

    Well with crime rates in decline and all that paramilitary gear sitting around, wasn’t this just the next logical step?

  4. #4 |  FTP | 

    Maybe I’m a little confused, but the article seems to state that the Education Department issued the search warrant. Doesn’t a judge issue a search warrant? Or is that just a relic of simpler times? I don’t really know what else to say at this point.

  5. #5 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    So much for officers of the law having the balls to refuse these types of obviously ridiculous assignments. They won’t refuse shooting peaceful protesters in the face either.

  6. #6 |  Mattocracy | 

    What were they searching for? I though search warrants were about getting evidence pursuant to a crime. What other evidence did they need to prove someone wasn’t making payments? Did they really think they were gonna find cash laying around marked “student loan payments that I’m not gonna make”?

  7. #7 |  Naaman Fletcher | 

    Most likley this was not just repayment of debt. Most likely the loans were fraudulently obtained. However, that is still no reason for a swat team to be dispatched to find the lady.

  8. #8 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Not to mention that no investigation went on prior to this raid to figure out that the EX-WIFE DOESN’T LIVE THERE! So, they really don’t do any investigation…and the agents still executed the raid. Because they had an old address.

    This is one of the worst I’ve read about on TA…but watch as absolutely nothing happens and they get away with it.

    The guy’s delivery kinda makes it sound like an Onion skit. He needs a show.

  9. #9 |  MDGuy | 

    Can there be any doubt at this point that these types of raids have nothing to do with enforcing laws or protecting people, and everything to do with threatening and intimidating the citizenry?

  10. #10 |  BoscoH | 

    This sounds like part of an elaborate government plot to convince gays that they don’t want to be married. But seriously, the Department of Education has its own SWAT team? That’s whack.

  11. #11 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “Can there be any doubt at this point that these types of raids have nothing to do with enforcing laws or protecting people, and everything to do with threatening and intimidating the citizenry?”

    Thought criminal! Someone call 911!

  12. #12 |  Z | 

    How much does a swat team raid cost? I doubt the amount is less than the debt in question.

  13. #13 |  Bob | 

    WHAT THE FUCK?

    What could they have possibly been searching for? Past due notices? How the hell can you possibly get a search warrant for this?

    And you gotta love the “Make them wait in the car for 6 hours while they search.” crap. Search for what? A map of the woman’s current whereabouts? The last known location of the Ark of the Covenant? The secret formula for Sugar Frosted Flakes?

    The Office of the Inspector General has a law enforcement branch of federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations.

    WHAT THE FUCK? The Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General has it’s own GOON SQUAD that can travel all over the country serving bullshit warrants they apparently print themselves for crap like this? JESUS CHRIST! Do they have their own jet to fly around in?

  14. #14 |  BMB | 

    Well, one of life’s big mysteries has been solved. Now we know what the Department of Education needed those shotguns for.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/education-secretary-duncan/ed-department-buying-27-shotgu.html

  15. #15 |  CyniCAl | 

    Wow. Elements of USG are getting desperate. Don’t they know they can just print up the money? Someone should circulate a memo before people get hurt.

  16. #16 |  Bob | 

    There’s plenty of WTF going on here but I’m sure this has something to do with fraud, not debt collection. Still no reason for the SWAT team, and thank god they didn’t have a dog in the house…

  17. #17 |  DarkEFang | 

    #4 FTP:

    According to this –

    http://www.examiner.com/finance-examiner-in-national/failure-to-pay-back-student-loans-can-now-lead-to-arrests-by-dept-of-education

    the Department of Education issued the warrant and it was not signed by a judge. It provides a picture of part of the warrant, but I have no idea if that is the part of the warrant where a judge would sign.

    If this happened like the homeowner says, then this is a brand new policy. Previous arrest warrants connected to the Department of Education that I’ve found were all related to fraud and embezzlement from schools, mostly people working for charter schools.

    I would hope that a police officer serving a warrant would relay the information regarding the reason for the warrant correctly, but no kind of incompetent boobery surprises me anymore. I have a feeling this is going to turn out to be a miscommunication. Otherwise, the federal government made a conscious decision to justify every accusation of fascism that has ever been leveled against it.

  18. #18 |  Kristen | 

    @DEF – it was the Dept of Ed’s own SWAT that conducted the raid, not the local popo. There was no one to “miscommunicate” the purpose to.

  19. #19 |  Lefty | 

    No wonder Stockton is the most dangerous city in the country. It’s because of swat.

  20. #20 |  marco73 | 

    I’m not sure what took 6 hours to figure out. The woman wasn’t there, so what the heck were they looking for? Since they had the old address, this should have been cleared up in about 6 minutes.
    I’d commented on a previous post (and djm picks up on it), that when you have SWAT gear sitting around, you better use it or it will be defunded. Jokingly, I’d thought they’d go after low level crimes like bad checks and unpaid parking tickets, but student loans?
    At least they didn’t have a dog, or it would have been shot.

  21. #21 |  Cyto | 

    I was wondering about the 6 hours in custody as well. What the heck could possibly justify that? They knew he wasn’t even wanted in any way… what were they doing? Holding him in handcuffs as an extortion technique to get him to give up the location of the ex-wife?

    I couldn’t tell you where my ex-wife is if my life depended on it. Heck, I couldn’t even tell you if she’s alive or dead. It would probably take me more than a day to find out that dead-or-alive answer, best case. Oh crap, and she had student loans! Damn, I hope she paid those things… I’d hate to try to explain that to some DOE thugs threatening to tase my kids if I don’t give her up.

  22. #22 |  Bob | 

    #16 | Bob | June 8th, 2011 at 11:41 am

    There’s plenty of WTF going on here but I’m sure this has something to do with fraud, not debt collection. Still no reason for the SWAT team, and thank god they didn’t have a dog in the house…

    Dude! Please use someone else’s name. I don’t want to be confused with someone who thinks rationally.

  23. #23 |  Greg | 

    Most likley this was not just repayment of debt. Most likely the loans were fraudulently obtained. However, that is still no reason for a swat team to be dispatched to find the lady.

    Only took till comment #7 for the muddling half-apologists to jump in.

    I don’t care what this guy’s estranged wife is accused of, there is no justification for anything but a polite knock on the door. NONE.

  24. #24 |  marco73 | 

    Cyto, you’ve hit on the standard SWAT interrogation technique. The guy was in handcuffs, with 3 small children, in a squad car for 6 hours.
    More and more, I’m believing that SWAT raids aren’t the end of an investigation, but just the beginning. Its the end of the month, you’ve got nothing to show your bosses, so let’s go have an early morning interrogation and see if some crimes shake loose.
    Find some hokey reason (or make one up), go in full SWAT, shoot the dog, then jam a smoking gun in someone’s face, and ask them nicely if they have something to say. Under those circumstances, I’d confess to the Kennedy assassination.

  25. #25 |  Kerade | 

    @Bob (#22 and #16)

    Stop talking to yourself – it’s getting creepy.

  26. #26 |  Bob | 

    #24 | marco73 | June 8th, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Cyto, you’ve hit on the standard SWAT interrogation technique. The guy was in handcuffs, with 3 small children, in a squad car for 6 hours.
    More and more, I’m believing that SWAT raids aren’t the end of an investigation, but just the beginning. Its the end of the month, you’ve got nothing to show your bosses, so let’s go have an early morning interrogation and see if some crimes shake loose.
    Find some hokey reason (or make one up), go in full SWAT, shoot the dog, then jam a smoking gun in someone’s face, and ask them nicely if they have something to say. Under those circumstances, I’d confess to the Kennedy assassination.

    Actually, you may not be far off the mark. It is a FELONY, yes, a fucking FELONY to lie to a Federal Agent. So, grab the mark, toss him in a car, ask leading questions. Anything he says that’s not the truth can be used to toss him in jail later.

    …Under those circumstances, I’d confess to the Kennedy assassination.

    Heh. That’s lying to a Federal Agent. Hello Felony!

  27. #27 |  Jesse | 

    So a department of the Federal Government can issue their own warrants and conduct them with their own independent SWAT teams?

    This sounds completely illegal. The local police that were asked to be a “prescence” sat on their hands while an armed home invasion and false imprisonment took place before their eyes?

    Of course, the criminals in this case had government-issued costumes so they are prima facie presumed to be operating lawfully by other government functionaries.

  28. #28 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    #22 | Bob | June 8th, 2011 at 12:20 pm
    #16 | Bob | June 8th, 2011 at 11:41 am

    There’s plenty of WTF going on here but I’m sure this has something to do with fraud, not debt collection. Still no reason for the SWAT team, and thank god they didn’t have a dog in the house…

    Dude! Please use someone else’s name. I don’t want to be confused with someone who thinks rationally.

    One more Bob and we can get an Inception joke!

  29. #29 |  doubleu | 

    The police are desensitizing citizens to this activity so it becomes the norm. It will happen more and more. I was talking to a friend/councilman from my relatively small hometown, he said the town now has a SWAT team. He didn’t understand it, but it is funded.

    I saw this from the Cato Institute’s twitter feed, “How police are turning military”
    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/56419.html

  30. #30 |  Dante | 

    SWAT raids for unpaid debt?

    If this stands without punishing the people who instigated it, America is lost.

    Every day, in every town and city and state across America the greatest threat to citizens’ lives, liberties and pursuit of happiness is an encounter with Law Enforcement.

    They are the real terrorists.

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

  31. #31 |  Pay Your Student Loans – Or Else « An Associate's Mind | 

    [...] If you’re a recent law grad, be sure you’re making those loan payments on time. Also, don’t skip town on someone who has a bunch of kids living in their home. It’s probably rather traumatizing to a 3, 7, and 11 to be thrown in a police car at 6 a.m.  Full story seems to have disappeared from the news website but some details available via Radley Balko. [...]

  32. #32 |  BMB | 

    Link’s already borked. It shows up in their search, still, but 404s all over, except here:

    http://centralstockton.news10.net/news/community/dept-education-breaks-down-stockton-mans-door/72578

  33. #33 |  BMB | 

    Link’s already taken down? 404s all over, except here:

    http://centralstockton.news10.net/news/community/dept-education-breaks-down-stockton-mans-door/72578

  34. #34 |  sigh | 

    This is the last straw.

    After the student loan nationalization, the Dept. of Education granted themselves the power to retroactively change loan contracts at will, and has been allowing their corrupt loan servicing companies to play musical chairs with people’s loans. It is not uncommon for recent graduates to have their loans swap servicing companies every 2-3 months, with no notice of the change until weeks or months after the fact. Requests for promissory notes are ignored, servicers are selling loans they’ve already accepted consolidation payments for, they are randomly combining and splitting loan totals under the guise of “account management”, and loans are getting randomly duplicated, thus multiplying the amount you owe. Paperwork is lost all the time, and even the most basic actions may require mailing someone half a dozen times.

    It is VERY easy to default without even knowing it over a loan that in many cases doesn’t actually exist.

    And now they do this.

    FUCK THESE PEOPLE. If there isn’t a special hell for them, then we need to make one.

  35. #35 |  Terry | 

    This is what happens when anti-terrorism laws are passed to allow the police to do whatever they want. They take full advantage of it.

  36. #36 |  AlgerHiss | 

    Perhaps hoping for what will never be, but are there any county Sheriffs anymore that will face down this sort of thing and confront:

    “This is MY fucking county and that warrant looks like shit. You are to leave now, or I’ll arrest you for (fill in the blank with any number of things)”.

    A face-off..we need some strong face-offs.

    But then again, I’m probably hoping for the impossible.

  37. #37 |  Joe | 

    I saw this this morning and immediately thought: Get Radley! Hence the reason I posted the link to your Croatia picture below.

  38. #38 |  Joe | 

    This is just intollerable. We, the people, need to pressure congress to act. It will not happen in the courts. If there was ever a good political time to do it, now is it. This crosses party lines and can be done. There should be federal legislation restricting such invasion of homes. While that may not translate immediatley into restriction on state activities, it will have a profound influence on stemming some of this abuse.

  39. #39 |  Johnny Clamboat | 

    @#14:

    Well, one of life’s big mysteries has been solved. Now we know what the Department of Education needed those shotguns for.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/education-secretary-duncan/ed-department-buying-27-shotgu.html

    I was wondering when we’d be hearing about DoE SWAT in action. It took them long enough. Go State Go!!

  40. #40 |  Stan | 

    This has been picked up by the ABA journal newspage. Maybe this incident will get this issue – abuse of SWAT – some mainstream attention, without the distracting allegations of drugs or alleged criminal conduct.

  41. #41 |  Itchy Nipples | 

    Aright… new handle…

    Hope this one’s free.

    Apologies for the confusion.

    Formerly known as #16 Bob

  42. #42 |  Craig | 

    How tyranical! Have we become our own enemy?

    THESE are the things we were told that the Evil Communist Russians did to their people when we were children! THIS is shameful, Undemocratic, Unjust, Immoral and Unaccpetable

    Our country is well on it’s way to becomming something unreconizable. It’s time to reconize to our values and principles.

    This is NOT Justice, Equality, Liberty, Compassion, love. wisdom, charity or tolerance.

    We the People need Solidarity in the fight for Equality, Justice, Liberty, Stability, Compassion and Peace.

    We need to DEMAND Oversight, Transparency and Accountability NOW!

  43. #43 |  Gregg | 

    The news video of the incident has disappeared from the internet, and the DoE released a statement saying the invasion was not about student loans. http://reason.com/blog#article_149914

    Weird.

  44. #44 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    I so hoped that was from The Onion. Holy shit!

    “As such, OIG operates with full statutory law enforcement authority, which includes conducting search warrants, making arrests, and carrying firearms. The acquisition of these firearms is necessary to replace older and mechanically malfunctioning firearms, and in compliance with Federal procurement requirements. For more information on OIG’s law enforcement authority, please visit their Web site at : http://www.ed.gov/oig”

    God damn, every one of these bureaucratic monstrosities has their own police department these days. Really! Can’t they just hand this shit over to FBI or the Marshals if enforcement is necessary. But hey, there’s one more good reason to abolish the U.S. Department of Ed. Did Ron Paul here about this one yet?

  45. #45 |  Kristen | 

    Update at reason blog

    Yeah, because an embezzlement, fraud or bribery case makes using a SWAT team sooooooo much more justifiable. Any criminal charge justifies SWAT, right?

  46. #46 |  DarkEFang | 

    Here’s an updated link to the story:

    http://www.news10.net/news/article/141108/2/Questions-surround-feds-raid-of-Stockton-home

  47. #47 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    From Matt Welch @ Reason:
    “Unless and until we hear that this “criminal investigation” involves some kind of imminent threat of violence, there will be no margin of excuse for it, only new opportunities for bureaucrats and commentators to demonstrate that they are perfectly content living in and even contributing to a police state.”

    Very well said, Matt. Thanks for that!

  48. #48 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    SWAT raids for unpaid debt?

    Sweet Jesus, don’t let China hear about this.

  49. #49 |  Sean L. | 

    “wasn’t this just the next logical step?”

    We already know the FDA has warrants served, now the DOE?

    Now, the next logical step is the use of SWAT teams being late for a mortgage payment. Half of all mortgages today are held by Freddie and Fannie. It’s only a matter of time.

    I wonder what will be the last straw that gets the citizenry going to rise up against these criminals? Maybe they will serve a warrant on a preschool and shoot some kids who were acting in a ‘threatening manner’ for people to come to their senses about this. Hopefully it won’t come to *that*.

  50. #50 |  Sean L. | 

    “There should be federal legislation restricting such invasion of homes.”

    Umm….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

  51. #51 |  albatross | 

    Bob #13: No, they use unmanned drones with missiles. Avoids needless hassles with trials and such….

  52. #52 |  Bob | 

    #51 | albatross | June 8th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Bob #13: No, they use unmanned drones with missiles. Avoids needless hassles with trials and such….

    How do they fit the SWAT guys into those? Is it like the missiles used in the movie “Star Crash?”

    Note: Don’t bother looking for a copy of Star Crash (Starring David Hasselhoff!) all copies have been destroyed by agents from the future. Basically, though… when the evil Starship (Which looked like a giant left hand.) Wanted to attack the good Starship (Which looked like a giant guitar.) it sent missiles over.

    These missiles carried no explosives. Instead, they crashed through a window (On a … starship… in space..) and popped open! Two guys with guns jumped out of each missile and started shooting.

    I swear to god. Here’s the trailer:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzfuNSpP0RA

    You can see the guys jumping out of the missile at 2:16

    And yes, that was the giant left hand ship closing into a fist prior to attacking.

  53. #53 |  Joe | 

    If you think this is bad, wait till they start enforcing Obamacare!

  54. #54 |  Joe | 

    Sean L.–no kidding. Unfortunately the Supreme Court did not seem to get the memo.

  55. #55 |  sigh | 

    Whether it is for default or suspicion of fraud doesn’t really matter; they’re kicking in doors over things that could result from a simple paperwork screwup, the sort that the DoE is cranking out in record numbers lately. These people have no business kicking in anyone’s doors over anything.

  56. #56 |  Joe | 

    Would it be all, like, Visigothy of me to suggest we’re living in a soft tyranny that is practicing to become a more seasoned, respectably hard tyranny…?

  57. #57 |  Marty | 

    I’ve been saying for years that they’re not peace officers here to keep the peace- they’re revenuers. the motto should be ‘to serve and collect’.

  58. #58 |  Aresen | 

    Boyd Durkin | June 8th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    SWAT raids for unpaid debt?

    Sweet Jesus, don’t let China hear about this.

    Made me laugh.

  59. #59 |  Dave | 

    There should be no Dept. of Education, nor any student loans from the gubment. When the federal gubment gives something to someone it asks for something back–usually less freedom and dignity. Visit the Tenth Amendment Center’s Web site: http://www.tenthamendmentcenter.com

  60. #60 |  croaker | 

    I’ll say it again.

    Prison bed, ICU bed, or morgue tray: Bad cops don’t go home.

  61. #61 |  skootercat | 

    Whatever happened to Sen. Webb’s S.714? Now that he is leaving office, does that make it dead in the water? I ask my senators about it from time to time and assured they are co-sponsors, but if Webb is gone there is no champion to oversee our justice system and the police. Someone must pick up this fight in DC.

  62. #62 |  Andrew Roth | 

    This is stunning. If it doesn’t make the national press in a big, big way, we’re fucked as a nation. That is to say that the Tot Mom trial and Weinergate need to be put on the back burner for a while.

    This is behavior worthy of police and military goons in Arab autocracies, although it’s a slightly different sort of twisted brutality. It does not fall on a good place on the modern continuum of government brutality. It is awfully similar to some of the prominent human rights violations for which Qaddafi and Assad are currently being pushed out of polite international society. Caging prisoners all day in the sun, in case we’ve forgotten, was a North Vietnamese POW camp specialty, one that the US government rightly condemned as a gross violation of human rights.

    For God’s sake, these thugs were serving a search warrant approved by the executive branch in a matter in which the same branch, specifically their own agency, had been given the authority to enforce ex post facto changes in the terms of contracts! This is a perfect storm of unconstitutionality. This warrant service was not an act of law enforcement, but a militia attack on unarmed civilians, including children. In typical American fashion, however, it was dressed up as a law enforcement operation, complete with a warrant issued by an agency of the executive branch in usurpation of judicial branch functions.

    The emperor can grab a fig leaf, but that doesn’t make him clothed. If we don’t prosecute this tyranny domestically we’ll join the Third World. At some point, foreign governments will realize that American officials are making legalistic excuses for illegal police rampages. The ruse will be over and arrest warrants may be issued for their extradition to foreign criminal courts. For Robert Seldon Lady and fellow travelers, that day came years ago. At some point, the long arms of the law, e.g. those of Balthasar Garzon, may reach into our borders in response to a similar travesty stateside.

    The only other option I see is for officers who exercise brute force in circumstances like these to be met with brute force. It seems to be the only thing that they understand. It would be best for the countervailing force to come from a duly constituted police agency, but if the legitimate cops don’t have the courage, someone else might have to step up to the plate. It would be a pretty simple ultimatum: if you engage in violence that is not justified by a clear and present danger, we will shoot to kill. If you cross the Rubicon, there will be war.

  63. #63 |  derfel cadarn | 

    Everyone continues to go on about fraud as a justification for the Dept. of ED. having and using goon squads. Let me point out that fraud even with the taxpayers money is NOT punishable by death. If it were we would be forced to “eliminate” more than 90% of all elected officials at all levels of government, plus a sizable amount of our bureaucrats and other government hirelings. There is NO justification for any this type of tyranny.

  64. #64 |  varmintito | 

    I think what we’re all responding to, on some level, is the casual cruelty of what was done here.

    From the law enforcement perspective, the only relevant factors are (1) respect my authoritah; (2) find a crime to charge, and (3) cover my ass if it goes wrong/take credit if it goes right.

    What is missing is anything that indicates one iota of empathy for the people they traumatize.

    The suspect hasn’t lived there in years? Who cares? If he didn’t want this to happen he shouldn’t have married her in the first place. And those fucking brats should have chosen a better mother.

    Destructive home invasion? Who cares? It wasn’t my house.

    Some guy who wasn’t a suspect was handcuffed and frog marched in front of his kids? Who cares? It wasn’t me. It wasn’t my kids.

    Locked in a hot cop car for 6 hours? So what? I wasn’t in there, so it doesn’t matter.

    I suspect that an unstated goal of SWAT training is the elimination of empathy.

    In case you were wondering, absence of empathy is a defining characteristic of psychopaths and sociopaths. The presence of empathy precludes a diagnosis of either condition.

    In short, why are we surprised at the results when we create a cohesive group of natural born or trained psychopaths/sociaopaths and give them permission — hell, encourage them — to invade the homes of citizens without any meaningful restraint. The dead dogs, children, non-suspects, and suspects for non-violent crimes are inevitable. The kids growing up without any sense of security in their own homes. The fathers dealing with the shame of being manhandled in their own homes as their children watch, helpless to calm their fears and dry their tears.

    Afterward comes the rage that there are no meaningful consequences for those who so casually inflict violence, destruction, indignity and injustice.

    Sometimes there are official apologies. Without meaningful action the apology means nothing. Anybody at fault should be fired and barred from all future public employment — a person who authorizes a SWAT raid without a convincing basis to believe the suspect is armed and has a history of criminal violence, a judge who issues a warrant without legitimate probable cause, an investigator who fails to discover that there were children in the house or that the suspect didn’t live there, a commander who goes to the wrong door, a cop who shoots without convincing evidence of an immediate and unavoidable threat of death or serious injury. There should be immediate statutory changes limiting the scenarios in which SWAT can be used, or simply the dissolution of the unit if the scenarios that could justify its use are not common.

    Sometimes there is a new door. That doesn’t cut it. There should be psychotherapy for all who desire it for as long as is needed, from a provider chosen by the victim, paid in full by the entity that authorized the raid. There should be payment for all expenses required to return the home to its pre-invasion condition, including the services of a cleaner and a professional organizer it the house got “tossed.” If the family prefers, they can elect to have the entity that authorized the raid pay for all expenses associated with moving to another home of equal or greater value. This would include the services of professional movers, real estate agents, etc. It may ultimately mean purchasing the home if it is difficult to sell — after all, they were the ones that made it traumatic to remain in the home and thereby created the reason to move at all.

    Obviously, there would be immediate compensation for all medical expenses, and non-assholish offers of compensation for pain and emotional distress.

  65. #65 |  crazybob | 

    “No, I’m not exaggerating.”

    Turns out yes you where. WHy? Because you uncritically buy in to any anti-government story, no matter how poorly sourced, that comes down the pipe.

    THe anti-government crowd knows that people like you will pick this up and shout it from the rooftops – and when you learn you’re wrong you will quietly say “sorry”. Meanwhile the unjustified damage is done and most people don’t ever even see the corrections.

    I know you like to call yourself a “journalist”, but you seem lacking some basic skills they teach in journalism school. Here’s one: when a story ONLY quotes from the alleged victim, be skeptical. People will always spin a story to put themselves in the most favorable light.

  66. #66 |  Radley Balko | 

    THe anti-government crowd knows that people like you will pick this up and shout it from the rooftops – and when you learn you’re wrong you will quietly say “sorry”. Meanwhile the unjustified damage is done and most people don’t ever even see the corrections.

    Always delighted when anonymous commenter offer me lessons in journalism. The DoE still admitted it sent a damned SWAT team. The only mistake here was whether it was over student loan debt or fraud/embezzlement. Even if it’s the latter, it’s a completely unjustified use of a SWAT team. They still got the wrong house. And there’s still the matter of why in the hell the Department of Education would have a SWAT team in the first place.

    If you think the worst thing about this story is that one misreported aspect of it resulted in “unjustified damage” to the government, you have some pretty twisted values.

  67. #67 |  varmintito | 

    crazybob@65:

    I assume the exaggeration you’re referring to is debt collection vs. fraud. Fair enough. Clarifying that exaggeration at least gets us across the threshold of having an alleged violation of the criminal law.

    It doesn’t change anything about the use of SWAT where there is no legitimate belief that the suspect is an armed and violent criminal, the failure to investigate whether the suspect lives there, the manhandling of a non-suspect, the confinement of the innocent ex-spouse and children for six hours while the house was tossed, etc.

    Incidentally, can anybody describe the nature of the alleged fraud? It’s pretty rare that fraud is prosecuted criminally at all, so I’m curious.

  68. #68 |  marco73 | 

    Well, the DOE has responded to the original story. No, it wasn’t a late student loan. But because it is an ongoing investigation, the DOE can’t tell us what the underlying crime is. There is an email from the DOE on the Reason.com website.
    Reading between the lines, you just know that means the DOE didn’t find anything in their raid, and are just trying to stall for time until they can get their story straight.
    Even when a SWAT raid goes wrong, the cops always trumpet how they found “a weapon” or “drug paraphenalia” or “a substantial amount of drugs” or “possible drug profits”, so that the badge licking press has some way to write a coverup story.
    But the DOE has provided nothing, and is trying to hide behind some sort of confidentiality. You invade a private home, causing destruction of property and trauma to innocent people, but now you want confidentiality? No one is going to believe that. The DOE has to come up with a better story.

  69. #69 |  ElamBend | 

    Here’s the warrant:
    http://www.news10.net/news/pdf/Ed-dept-Wright-warrant-060711.pdf

  70. #70 |  Our National Priorities « The Blog For Truth, Justice, & The Josh Way | 

    [...] we have SWAT teams detaining innocent people while they investigate a white collar crime, a victim of police sexual harassment getting arrested [...]

  71. #71 |  VikingMoose | 

    Proposal: change the “S” for “Special” in SWAT to “T” for “Thuggish”.

    Yes. works much better

  72. #72 |  Bob | 

    Holy crap! They need to add more stuff to that search warrant. (Sarcasm)

    They can take your KEYS? How are you supposed to get back into the house? Oh yeah, that’s right. They conveniently left it open for you.

    Here’s the kicker… The warrant states that they can get any password needed to access any computer (Which they can also take) and take any box or safe they cannot open.

    Let me get this straight. Any Government department… like the DoE, can field it’s own SWAT team, has jurisdiction over the entire country, has access to who knows how many judges, at least one of which will undoubtedly rubber stamp any warrant…. can just get a search warrant and tear your world apart, taking every scrap of electronics, financial records, everything. All with absolutely no regard for political or prosecutorial consequences. What are you going to do? Not reelect the leader of the DoE? You can’t already!

    This scares the crap out of me, and I’m not even close to being paranoid.

  73. #73 |  Mannie | 

    #72 | Bob | June 9th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Any Government department… like the DoE, can field it’s own SWAT team

    Of course they can. How else can they compete for those funds, add to their power, and build their bureaucratic empires?

    Now go and eat your cake.

  74. #74 |  Itchy Nipples | 

    Itchy Nipples ! Oi! HOW DARE YOU STEAL MY MONIKER!!!

  75. #75 |  Itchy Nipples | 

    FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

  76. #76 |  jim | 

    For those who do not know. The constututional form of government co-exists with the corporate form of government. Congress are figure heads. This is not a tall tale but the truth. It can be traced back and proven, That is why they can do what they do and it will only intensify.

  77. #77 |  Fascist Nation | 

    Let’s see the subpoena and the attached affidavit used to secure the subpoena. Then we know what the charge(s) were and upon whom. DOE has a SWAT Team—who knew.

  78. #78 |  John Q. Galt | 

    http://www.news10.net/news/article/141072/2/Dept-of-Education-breaks-down-Stockton-mans-door

    404 The page you are looking for can not be found.

  79. #79 |  Balloon Juice » SWAT | 

    [...] don’t know much about the use of SWAT teams by police departments, just what Radley Balko, ED Kain and others have been writing about their misuse and the tragic deaths [...]

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