Officer Safety

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Officer safety is usually cited as the main justification for the mass proliferation of SWAT teams over the last 30 years. Police say forced entry, flash grenades, and other paramilitary tactics are the only way offers can protect themselves while serving warrants on dangerous people like suspected pot dealers, poker players, optometrists who wager on football games, frail 69-year-old men suspected of selling painkillers, and women suspected of committing fraud on their student loan applications—to give just a few examples.

But what happens when police need to apprehend a genuinely dangerous person? We see this over and over: They don’t always send the SWAT team. And when they do, like they did in Columbine, the SWAT team sometimes waits outside until the shooting is over. So this week we had Whitey Bulger. He’s a suspect in at least 19 murders. He had 20 guns in his home when police apprehended him. So how did they do it? Once again, they didn’t send a SWAT team barreling into his home. Instead, they lured him out with a phone call, then arrested him peacefully.

Perhaps if they thought he had some pot in the house, it might have gone down differently.

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63 Responses to “Officer Safety”

  1. #1 |  Joe | 

    I am telling you, cops should be forced to watch the Andy Griffith show on the dos and don’t of effective policing.

    Hint: Barney is the don’ts. Andy is the dos.

  2. #2 |  Joe | 

    Take Barney Fife, give him high doses of meth and steroids, then lots of dangerous weapons (with the bullets in them)–and you have a SWAT officer.

  3. #3 |  CTD | 

    “Perhaps if they thought he had some pot money in the house , it might have gone down differently.”

    There, I fixed it for you.

  4. #4 |  MassHole | 

    Bullies pick on the weak.

  5. #5 |  Abersouth | 

    I’ve long wondered about this. I don’t know if arbitrary explains it. It’s like they like being thugs until they are scared and then they will use their brains. quibble- you wrote “offers” in the second sentence and I think you meant “officers”.

  6. #6 |  Michael Pack | 

    If you look at what members of the FBI did to protect this mobster and look at the massive lawlessness in the DEA and ATF it shows that federal law enforcement needs to be cut way back.Leaving most policing to the states and locals ,and ridding the same of federal drug laws and the huge bribes in money and equipment would go a long way in curtailing much abuse.As it not stands,all most any search can be justified as for drugs or,on the road as dui.When you have laws that punish when there is no harm the police must take go beyond what was seen the norm to catch the ‘criminal’.

  7. #7 |  Aresen | 

    @ CTD | June 24th, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I am not sure what your point is, since the MSM stories I’ve read have all said that there was a [unspecified] large amount of cash in the house.

  8. #8 |  Difster | 

    You should do some more research in to this issue. If that really is the trend, then some calls on banning the use of SWAT teams could be put in place except for things like hostage situations and the things most of us traditionally think SWAT teams should be used for.

  9. #9 |  Thom | 

    Well yeah. When you are genuinely concerned about your own safety is not the time to kick in a scary guys door and face the unknown…that’s what you do during play time.

  10. #10 |  EH | 

    Difster: I agree, strike while the iron is hot.

  11. #11 |  omar | 

    The more important question, Radley, is why are you a cop hater?

    You can’t reasonably defend the propensity to use SWAT in non-violent situations. Using SWAT to apprehend non-violent people is so obviously wrong on its face, to defend it you must resort to bullshit emotional appeals. You don’t get on the SWAT team by showing physical courage or reason. You get there by showing camaraderie.

    SWAT is just another form of a gang. They offer protection to those who support them, violence to those who don’t, and a place for emotionally disturbed or unintelligent people to feel part of something important.

  12. #12 |  Pinandpuller | 

    I’d say Waco took the thrill out of armed raids where the “persons of interest” are well armed. Additionally a mobster with that kind of record has even less inhibition about killing than the average SWAT cop. That kind of guy has no reason to hold fire until he identifies his target-unlike a Marine.

  13. #13 |  Serpentio | 

    Yep, this confirms it. SWAT teams are a bunch of brutes who love weapons and playing army, and non-violent drug offenders are the niche group upon which it’s politically correct (as well as mostly safe) to brandish those cool guns and grenades and stuff. What fun it must be to strap on an SMG, storm a house and then get called a hero afterward.

  14. #14 |  omar | 

    What fun it must be to strap on an SMG, storm a house and then get called a hero afterward.

    I’m surprised this hasn’t developed into a niche “team building exercise”. Once at a corporate event, someone hired a bunch of actors to portray photographers outside the venue. We were made to roll-play movie stars and had our pictures taken on the red carpet. I could envision hiring actors as “dangerous criminals” me and my buds storm in on, paintball guns and all. Of course, not being a psychopath, I don’t think I would enjoy it too much. Stupid empathy mechanism kicking in.

  15. #15 |  Mattocracy | 

    But this also goes to show what a well planned and researched operation can do. The agencies involved actually studied their target, took time to plan a course of action, and actually did something with minimal violence.

    The problem is that they only do this with high profile criminals. Regular people don’t get this kind of…professional treatment.

    Think about that. If you don’t want the police to fuck up arresting you, you need to be a mobster or worse. How is it that they get better treatment from law enfrocement than regular no name people?

  16. #16 |  omar | 

    How is it that they get better treatment from law enfrocement than regular no name people?

    Regular people are just the middle of the montage. The guitar music is blaring and folks are kicking in doors. Regular people are just extras. To quote Nigel Powers “I mean, look at you. You don’t even have a name tag. You’ve got no chance. Why don’t you just fall down? ”

    The movie director always stops the music for the mobsters.

  17. #17 |  Aresen | 

    The problem is that they only do this with high profile criminals. Regular people don’t get this kind of…professional treatment

    THIS.

    Plus it is not as much fun as playing commando.

  18. #18 |  SJE | 

    This is exactly how bullies behave.

  19. #19 |  MassHole | 

    How is it that they get better treatment from law enfrocement than regular no name people?

    I’d say it’s two things:

    1. The FBI, regardless of all it’s own issues, is a much more professional organization than the average local PD. Think about what it takes to be the guys tracking down Whitey vs. the podunk guys going after the local weed dealer. The FBI actually used logic and smarts vs. “here’s another chance to use our SWAT toys”. They wanted him alive. They know going in guns blazing is not the best way to do that.

    2. Whitey’s capture is national if not international news. If they screwed the pooch on this, every household would know about it. How many people know about William Cooper or even care? Very, very few. It’s not even news outside of the local paper and here.

    Speaking which, read this story.

    http://www.wavy.com/dpp/news/local_news/hampton/man-shot-by-police-was-heavily-armed

    Cooper is described as “heavily armed” because he owned 16 guns and some ammunition. Thousands of law abiding citizens in VA meet that definition. WTF.

  20. #20 |  Brooks | 

    I don’t know if I’m on board with this take.

    It seems clear to me from the story that the cops didn’t have a warrant. They began surveillance Wednesday afternoon and arrested him less than two hours later on the basis that the two subjects “resembled” the fugitives. The cops didn’t have enough support, time, or both, to get a warrant. So they had to lure him outside of his home to detain him, gather more information, and make an arrest.

    This suggests to me that their prime goal was moving as quickly as possible. This is situation is very distinguishable from the unjustified use of SWAT teams commonly covered on this site.

  21. #21 |  Fred Mangels | 

    The cops didn’t have enough support, time, or both, to get a warrant.

    I’d say that would support the opposite of the case you’re trying to make. The matter of exigency- that they felt the fugitive might escape- would suggest a more violent approach might be justified in capturing this guy.

    As it was, they simply used their heads, created a ruse and arrested him.

  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    SWAT teams aren’t about officer safety. They are about the thrills and adrenaline rushes that bullies get when they violently assault (and scare the shit out of) unarmed ordinary people using overwhelming force. They don’t do it because there is danger of getting hurt or killed. They do it because there is practically no chance of getting hurt or killed.

    They don’t do it because they need to do it. They do it because they like to do it, exactly the same way bullies like to beat up on weak kids in elementary school. Like most sociopaths, they lack a conscience. And they shoot dogs, for the same reasons that some kids like to torture animals. It’s a kind of over-compensation for their insecurity and inferiority.

    SWAT teams are a power trip for people who would, in a more perfect world, be the very last people on the planet you would trust with power.

  23. #23 |  Ken Hagler | 

    Oh, were we supposed to be taking that “officer safety” nonsense seriously? If cops were _really_ as cowardly as they make themselves out to be when using that excuse, they’d be no threat to anybody because they’d spend their entire lives quivering under their beds and soiling themselves whenever they saw another living thing.

  24. #24 |  Juice | 

    “arrested him peacefully”

    What? Is that like fucking him celibately?

  25. #25 |  Old Fart | 

    @Brooks #20
    They did have a warrant. Probably not a search warrant, but an arrest warrant. If they “believed” it was the subjects of the arrest warrant, they could break down the door. And, I’ve heard of search warrants being issued in hours for anonymous tips on pot smoking… so it would hardly be a stretch to think the FBI could get a search warrant for Whitey Bulger that quickly, if they really wanted to go in guns blazing.

  26. #26 |  albatross | 

    Yeah, I imagine a big factor here is that the FBI is probably a lot more competent and a lot more selective in hiring than are most city and county police forces.

  27. #27 |  albatross | 

    Juice:

    As opposed to “shot the suspect, his wife, his child, both his dogs, his goldfish, two bystanders, seven hunters, and a cow in the dynamic-entry raid.”

  28. #28 |  dunphy | 

    this article makes very good points. there are times and places for SWAT and/or dynamic entries. heck, i’ve written warrants for SWAT before. but they are very limited. the best tool cops have is “tactical deception” and their brains, not brute force of SWAT.

    SWAT is a very valuable, life-saving tool. when used properly. frequently, in many agencies , it is not. my agency has a relatively strict risk matrix that we use to decide when and if SWAT is to be used.

    the problem in general is that SWAT wants more power, to justify their existence, and to expand their role (just like govt. in general).

    administrators, who don’t know fuck-all about real police work (because they are administrators) take SWAT commanders recommendations as gospel. and then… suckitude follows

  29. #29 |  dunphy | 

    btw, 3 of my partners were shot an a warrant service once (we didn’t use SWAT on that one), so all other issues aside, officer safety is not some kind of made up issue. it is real. if SWAT had served the warrant, would it have turned out as badly? we’ll never know

  30. #30 |  Ben | 

    The question Dunphy, isn’t whether your 3 cop buddies are more or less likely to have been shot if SWAT had been deployed. Part of cops’ job description involves getting into potentially dangerous situations and maybe being shot at. The question is whether the suspect (which, in our society is presumed innocent at all times before conviction) is more likely to be killed during a SWAT raid than during a normal warrant service. And I would be willing to wager that the answer to that question is yes.

  31. #31 |  Ben | 

    In other words, is officer safety more important than the safety of the suspect?

  32. #32 |  dunphy | 

    actually, it’s not either/or Ben. it’s both. it’s basic game theory/cost-benefit analysis

    as an example, we do felony stops when justified. they are justified (and safer for us), then great. but we don’t do them on every traffic stop because they needlessly escalate force and are unfair to motorists if we did

    yes, like repo men- our job is to run towards dangerous situations. but we also have the right to do stuff that makes us safer as long as it does not violate rights or put others at undue risk

    if a suspect points a gun at us, they are going to get shot. i don’t care if it’s SWAT or a line cop, or a street crimes unit, or whatnot

    the point is that, in many situations , SWAT is the safer/better option. in many circ’s it is not. often, overwhelming force (SWAT) will make it LESS likely the suspect will fire and;or force us to fire. in other circs, a softer or deceptive approach is superior

    the point is that SWAT is a useful tool and if used correctly saves lives of innocent civilians, suspects and cops

    the other day SWAT in my agency did a warrant and managed to swarm/takedown a violent suspect with a knife, with no shots fired. you won’t read about that here, of course

    given a warrant (an order from a judge) cops need to take X into custody and/or search Y. the question then becomes – what is the tactics that should be used? sometimes, SWAT is better. sometimes it isn’t

    you can’t statistically tally lives saved because (much like defensive gun uses by civilians), you don’t know somebody would have been shot/killed without them.

    just like you won’t read about the hundreds of times cops take knife weilding people into custody WITHOUT shots fired. only, the far far far far fewer times that blood gets shed

  33. #33 |  fwb | 

    The cops would have had to be REAL men to go up against someone who may have committed 19 or more murders. It’s easy to go up against a local grandma or a kid. Kinda gives you a feeling deep in your bowels, don’t it!

  34. #34 |  Mario | 

    dunphy @ #32

    There are all kinds of methods that could be employed that would likely result in fewer casualties for both police and the parties they’re taking into custody, or on whose homes they’re executing search warrants. For example, homes could be flooded with anesthetic gas. But, fewer casualties isn’t the point; the methods used in a free society is.

    SWAT teams are used to arrest those accused of non-violent crimes. They’ve become a routine use. The justification is that “there’s a war going on out there” — that is until something actually resembling warfare is possible: namely, a heavily armed suspect.

    SWAT teams are overused, and their overuse has no place in a free society. I have no doubt that many, many people could have been lured out of their homes with a ruse similar to the one used in this case. This is what police forces used to do, before truckloads of federal money became available for the party hats and streamers the police find so exhilarating.

    It needs to stop. In the United States of America, it needs to stop.

  35. #35 |  dunphy | 

    “SWAT teams are used to arrest those accused of non-violent crimes”

    in addition to those accused of violent crimes

    “SWAT teams are overused,”

    agree 100%. varies widely agency to agency. i worked to change the policies in my agency. some agencies do not overuse them. some do

    “I have no doubt that many, many people could have been lured out of their homes with a ruse similar to the one used in this case. This is what police forces used to do, before truckloads of federal money became available for the party hats and streamers the police find so exhilarating. ”

    agree. good cops know how to use tactical deception. there are times and places for SWAT. they are more limited than are being employed now

  36. #36 |  Mrs. C | 

    Officer safety is usually cited as the main justification for the mass proliferation of SWAT teams over the last 30 years. Police say forced entry, flash grenades, and other paramilitary tactics are the only way offers can protect themselves while serving warrants on dangerous people like suspected pot dealers, poker players, OPTOMETRISTS WHO WAGER ON FOOTBALL GAMES, frail 69-year-old men suspected of selling painkillers, and women suspected of committing fraud on their student loan applications—to give just a few examples.

    These are all upsetting examples…and should have never happened…and my heart goes out…to all of the “forever changed” families…that have lost loved ones.

    Radley…I just want to THANK YOU for thinking of my son…and including him in your “list”…that will most unfortunately continue to grow…until SWAT is reined in…and used ONLY for its original intention…and purpose.

    Their mantra of SURPRISE…SPEED…and VIOLENCE OF ACTION…promotes an excessive force mentality…that disregards the risk to…and safety of…while putting in harms way…with no margins for error…the type of people you mentioned.

    Sixty-five months ago…on Jan. 24, 2006…before 9:35 pm…my son was alive and well…and at 37…had his whole life…ahead of him. I miss him more than mere words can say.

    I just came from Sal’s resting place…thanks to…(and I don’t mean that in a nice way) sanctioned policies…protocols…and procedures…allowed for by the FCPD…and their use of SWAT…to serve a document search warrant…at “ready gun”…which means the loaded weapon…is pointed at the center mass…of the person being served…even though…in my son’s case…he was not a threat or threatening…non-violent…had no criminal record…never owned a weapon…was a low risk…none of it matters…when SWAT is sent…risk assessments are ignored…SWAT considers any operation they are involved in…as HIGH RISK…because…they are SWAT…and by their own admission…”are going home”…when their done.

    Transparency…Accountability…and Preventive Change…is needed…if these types of “isolated incidents”…or “botched raids”…as they are called…are to be avoided…in the future.

    Believe me…it is an uphill battle…and needs all the support…citizens can lend…because everyone…has a right to feel safe…whether they wear a badge…or not.

    http://www.justiceforsal.com

  37. #37 |  paranoiastrksdp | 

    “the other day SWAT in my agency did a warrant and managed to swarm/takedown a violent suspect with a knife, with no shots fired. you won’t read about that here, of course”

    Probably because it didn’t fucking happen, dunphy. Or do you really want us to give the benefit of the doubt to the same people who shoot first and ask questions later when the suspect is holding a water nozzle, hero sandwich, golf club, Mars Bar, cellphone, etc.

  38. #38 |  Mario | 

    Dunphy, I have nothing against SWAT teams, per se. I don’t know if that’s clear. I’m glad to see we’re in substantial agreement. There are certainly cases where SWAT teams should be used. I am nonetheless supportive of Mr. Balko’s contention that the increase in SWAT staffing and deployment is due to federal monies made available to hungry bureaucrats who are more interested in growing their own departments and careers. I’m sure how much of that varies across the United States.

    I think the one thing we need in all states is record keeping of SWAT team usage, like the law recently passed in Maryland and another, similar law recently proposed in Michigan. I’d like to see a law like that in my state, New York, and in the remaining states as well.

    Let’s see, unequivocally, how they’re used, when, and why. Then we can argue over clearer data.

  39. #39 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #32: “you won’t read about the hundreds of times cops take knife weilding people into custody WITHOUT shots fired. only, the far far far far fewer times that blood gets shed.”

    Yep, just like cops never concern themselves with the 85% of prostitutes who don’t stand on street corners or the 99.9% who don’t engage in any kind of actual (i.e. one with a victim) crime, only, the far far far far fewer ones who are a public nuisance. If cops don’t want people tarring all of you with the same brush, maybe y’all should set an example by not tarring every member of other groups with the same brush.

  40. #40 |  dunphy | 

    “Probably because it didn’t fucking happen, dunphy. Or do you really want us to give the benefit of the doubt to the same people who shoot first and ask questions later when the suspect is holding a water nozzle, hero sandwich, golf club, Mars Bar, cellphone, etc.”

    happens all the fucking time. never gets reported. there are twofold reasons for this. 1) pd’s suck at writing press reports on positive incidents 2) press has a “if it bleeds it leads bias” (of course).

    heck, i’ve tackled knife weilding suspects (more than once) or talked them out of their shenanigans many times. those will never make the papers. balko et al’s job is not to report “cops arrest bad dangerous doods without any bad shit happening”. they report the bad shit. it’s similar to the 911 system. wife doesn’t call police to report “my husband is treating me well and we are having a nice family dinner , come on over”. she calls to report “he just punched me, then went outside and shot our cat ” (actual call we got recently).

    it would be poor analytical reasoning to extrapolate that this bad shit is all that is happening, because those are the only calls we get

  41. #41 |  dunphy | 

    “Yep, just like cops never concern themselves with the 85% of prostitutes who don’t stand on street corners or the 99.9% who don’t engage in any kind of actual (i.e. one with a victim) crime, only, the far far far far fewer ones who are a public nuisance. If cops don’t want people tarring all of you with the same brush, maybe y’all should set an example by not tarring every member of other groups with the same brush.”

    tarring who? i don’t even think prostitution or drug use should be illegal. nor probably do you. the resolution to that problem comes from the legislature or the people (citizen initiative).

  42. #42 |  dunphy | 

    “Dunphy, I have nothing against SWAT teams, per se. I don’t know if that’s clear. I’m glad to see we’re in substantial agreement. There are certainly cases where SWAT teams should be used. I am nonetheless supportive of Mr. Balko’s contention that the increase in SWAT staffing and deployment is due to federal monies made available to hungry bureaucrats who are more interested in growing their own departments and careers. I’m sure how much of that varies across the United States.

    I think the one thing we need in all states is record keeping of SWAT team usage, like the law recently passed in Maryland and another, similar law recently proposed in Michigan. I’d like to see a law like that in my state, New York, and in the remaining states as well.

    Let’s see, unequivocally, how they’re used, when, and why. Then we can argue over clearer data.”

    ABSOLUTELY. i 100% agree with this. data is key. balko et al serve a useful purpose, but like any advocates for a cause, they are not going to present an unbiased view of the entire picture.

  43. #43 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #41: “Citizen initiative”? Oh, please. It’s because the work of people like me has shifted the perspective of a large percentage of the population toward decriminalization that police spokesmen feel the need to justify their “sting” shenanigans in every story on the subject by vomiting out the same kind of loathsome lies and character assassination of their victims they usually reserve for those they murder in no-knock raids.

    It’s all well and fine that you personally don’t believe there should be such things as victimless crimes, but we as a society established at Nuremberg that if a man carries out orders to enforce laws he knows to be wrong, he is equally culpable as those who established those laws.

  44. #44 |  dunphy | 

    oh christ, not this shit again. i’ve addressed this stupid argument many times at reason.com

    fwiw, every physician with a DEA # has to participate in the WOD, to include reporting violations (Script diversion etc.) to the police. i guess we should turn in our badges and medical licenses lest we be as bad as the nazis.

    btw, if you pay taxes you are supporting the WOD, too. probably more than i have to, as a cop, depending on your income. drug cases make up less that 2% of what i do.

  45. #45 |  B | 

    It’s really simple why they didn’t send in the SWAT team for Bulger. Two words:

    “Professional courtesy.”

  46. #46 |  dunphy | 

    “It’s really simple why they didn’t send in the SWAT team for Bulger. Two words:

    “Professional courtesy.””- bwahahahahahaha!

    win!

  47. #47 |  Rob Sama | 

    Whitey turned himself in. Wants to be buried in Boston. Most likely, he’s in bad health. In any event, when you’re turning yourself in, there’s little need for the SWAT.

  48. #48 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Can we get a pro-cop view that can articulate a reasoned response so we don’t have to put up with dunphy?

    Rob Sama,
    Heard the same thing coming out of Boston. Also take note that Whitey had access to large amounts of cash. Cash is hard to keep handy for almost 20 years without someone sending it to you. I mean how did he keep pace with inflation?

    Does everyone know who Whitey’s kid brother is? Former President of MA Senate Billy Bulger who was always quick with a “no comment” when pressed about Whitey. Rotten to the core.

  49. #49 |  AlgerHiss | 

    SWAT’s motto: Everyone is Charles Whitman, except us.

  50. #50 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    #1 Joe:

    “I am telling you, cops should be forced to watch the Andy Griffith show on the dos and don’t of effective policing.

    Hint: Barney is the don’ts. Andy is the dos.”

    Its funny that you mention Barney and Andy. I work in healthcare security, and some ridiculous woman angry over a parking ticket we gave her recently compared the officer who wrote the ticket to “Barney Fife.” Well, based on our organization’s policy, she deserved the ticket, so it was all rhetoric.

    The thing that galls me about people like this is that they would probably drop to their knees and fellate a government police officer. But people working in private protection are, in their estimation, “Barney Fifes.” Oh well, I guess all of us greedy, poorly trained private sector security people (Note: I make less money than most government LEO’s, even rookies. Yet, I have a B.A. and a substantial amount of extra training and continuing ed. In what way am I inferior to Officer Friendly from your local P.D.?) deserve this abuse. It is so strange dealing with delusional government slaves.

  51. #51 |  DocHoliday916 | 

    Oh gawd where do I begin? Much to unload here. Sorry for the length but I’d be obliged if all bare with me. With each passing day, the respect my late mommy and daddy instilled in me for the police is eroding into abject contempt. Mark Twain is quoted, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” But this statement not withstanding, I have learned over fifty plus years of existence that among some of the immutable facts of the universe is that the “law of averages” will assert itself one way or another and sometimes result in unspeakable tragedy with consequences and unsavory outcomes. For little over a hundred years of lynchings and one too many cases of false imprisonment, a majority of African Americans cheered when O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of murder. The verdict split Americans along racial lines. The question of guilt is not in doubt. Forensic evidence clearly put O.J. at the crime scene. But that’s not the point. The late Johnny Cochran successfully argued that gaps in lab protocols and chain of custody practices created sufficient gaps to create credible reasonable doubt and violated due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. The aftermath resulted in massive changes in new lab protocols imposed on the LA Crime Lab from without rather from within which validates another immutable truth of the Universe: “When you don’t fix a problem you can see in front of your face and it becomes a problem for others, solutions will be imposed upon you much to your dislike and dismay.” After comprehensively reading reports of botched SWAT Team raids going back 31 years…something is amiss and terribly wrong. Eventually, the law of averages is going to assert itself. Hollywood might not buy the scenario I am about to posit, but history and truth sometimes being much stranger than fiction, it’s not outside the realm of possibility OR probability. Somewhere in this country, there is going to be another SWAT dynamic entry on a home. The pre-event intelligence used to execute the warrant will be scant, sketchy, and once assessed in tragic hindsight, just plain insufficient and dumb. The judge will sign the warrant in haste thinking they asked the sufficient questions. Part of the intel will be correct in that the homeowner is in possession of firearms “justifying a no knock”. BUT what the intel misses is that the homeowner having been a victim of a home invasion and vowing “never again” has now beefed up his arsenal, hardened his house and has developed, thought through, and trained on tactics techniques and procedures and other members of his family are trained as well. His weapons are semi-auto with .308 caliber (NATO 7.62) with 30 round mag capacity. He’s pre-established optimal defensive positions optimally creating overlapping fields of fire, it’s a devastating effect. While he’s hitting the sack early, he’s about to fall asleep as a he hears a loud bang followed by screams. He’s out of his bed and so is another family member; both have grabbed their weapons and assumed positions and the shooting begins. After hours of negotiations and three dead SWAT officers in his living room, the homeowner finally surrenders and is now along with the other family member, facing capital murder charges. The newsies are going absolutely gaga with the story, it runs all week through all the news wires, the Internet is lit up like a Christmas tree with the blogosphere and a raging debate ensues. A prominent law firm somewhere in a big US city known for its public protestation against SWAT invasions takes this one pro-bono and unleashes a formidable array of private investigators. At trial, the poor intelligence is established. The SWAT team found nothing for which the warrant was issued, testimony allowed into the record on criminals posing as cops invading homes along with the most notorious act of cop impersonation, the St. Valentines Day Massacre of Feb 14, 1929 is also used as an example to justify the defendants actions. The prosecution attempts to paint the defendants as social monsters contrary to testimony of the neighbors and the community at large that the defendants are upstanding folk with no prior criminal record. Closing arguments by both sides are made, the judge instructs the jury, the jury retires to deliberate. In deliberations, a majority of the jury vents their anger at the police and invokes jury nullification (NOTE: As much as jury nullification is actively discouraged by prosecutors and judges, it’s still legal). The jury returns a verdict of not guilty on all counts. A national outrage emerges from LEO’s all over the country. The surviving families of the slain cops are permanently embittered…no justice for them. But, (to use the NFL euphemism) upon further review, the full set of facts of the case once finally revealed, initiates a ground swell of public opinion that quickly evolves into a tsunami of public opinion against the law enforcement community. Elected political leaders who once were “in the pocket” of the police and their unions change sides. (NOTE: Elected pols love their power and perks and will not allow anyone to get in the way of such; another immutable fact of the Universe). Much to the anger, chagrin and grousing of the LEO’s, new laws, guidelines and protocols are imposed. Fantasy scenario? Perhaps but like I said, stranger stuff has occurred in my lifetime and I’m no black helicopter, grassy knoll kinda guy. Dunphy, the last, I repeat very last thing I or any rational sensible American wants to see are innocent civilians AND cops killed. But understand this and I suggest you seriously take it to heart. A higher standard IS demanded of police officers. A large part of the currency of the trade is lethal force. The record of the last thirty years is a scandal beyond the pale. While I support officer safety, I also understand there is inherent risk in that job one assumes. I know this personally. For over 20 years, as a member of this country’s military and as a commissioned Constitutional officer of the Government, I VOLUNTARILY signed the contract, VOLUNTARILY raised my right hand and swore an oath that is as sacred to me as scripture. NO ONE, I repeat NO ONE forced my hand and for those 20+ years, there was a target painted on my back for if and when my country ordered me to go into hot theatre of operations, I WAS GOING for the orders were clear and very very legal. Quite frankly, the level of cacophony from LEO’s about their safety is getting to be a bit much. All you LEO’s VOLUNTARILY wanted the job so accept the risks…deal with it as your military compatriots have to deal with it. Thank you all for your patience. I promise this is the longest I’ll ever write here in this great forum. For gawd’s sakes, we have to find some way to stop this madness before we have another tragedy that finally tips that pebble down the hill. We may not survive the resulting avalanche.

  52. #52 |  V | 

    Okay, well, as an alternative to all the reasons offered here, the concept of destruction of evidence plays in a role in the use of SWAT teams when enforcing warrants on non-violent offenders. As Radley has mentioned before, it’s good to get money and drugs on the table. A SWAT team that makes a no-knock entry is more likely to come up with the maximum amount of money and drugs; drugs it can display in front of cameras and money it can seize so the department can buy more military surplus.

    In this case, a raid doesn’t serve the purpose of protecting evidence from destruction. A raid here would only serve to catch a suspect by surprise, which obviously isn’t necessary as we saw how events played out.

    So, yes, there’s the “cops are all adrenaline junkies who need their fix by raiding and pointing guns at every person they can while shooting animals,” but that isn’t really supported by the fact a raid wasn’t authorized in this case. Obviously a potentially violent suspect is the best justification for a raid, so if the “thrills and adrenaline rushes that bullies get when they violently assault” is the actual cause, why wouldn’t it be employed here?

    You can also argue that police only like to raid on innocent people or non-violent suspects, but then you have to explain away raids on people who are actually guilty.

  53. #53 |  DocHoliday916 | 

    Hey V…HOW do you know people are guilty? Guilt or innocence is determined by a court of law…not me, not you, or anyone else. A “potentially violent suspect is the best justification for a raid?” Yup, there are a lot of violent people out there that the LEO’s have to confront everyday and yes the drug trade is a major haven for violent people acting out and defending their illegal enterprise. When the police confront an armed suspect and everyone knows who everyone is, I’ll side with the police any day if the perp is shot and killed. I’ll also contend that the data of the last 31 years indicates that the majority of the raids in the post investigation showed that the suspects apprehended and the evidence obtained were such that guilt was validated in the subsequent trial. The problem is that there is a small but nonetheless, significant number of raids executed based upon questionable intelligence, judges signing off on warrants with insufficient due diligence resulting in raids on the innocent and too many times with fatal consequences. It’s not worth it. The police ARE NOT warriors, they are civil peace officers. On a personal note as a retired warrior, I despise the cops trying “work my side of the street” and they wouldn’t like the converse either. But if the cops are going to take this warrior mentality then they better start understanding the way of the warrior according to Sun-Tzu and Sun-Tzu is taught at every level of professional military education all the up to the most senior level of War College. Here’s a few writings of Sun-Tzu:

    “To win without fighting is best!”

    “The general who achieves victory without conflict is a treasure.”

    Sun-Tzu showed how understanding conflict can lead not only to its resolution, but even to its avoidance altogether.

    One thing that is common between war and these botched SWAT raids is that both consume lives and treasure and in the case of the latter, dead civilians, dead cops, cost of lawsuits, the cost of the monetary settlements and the survivors of the dead permanently embittered and their lives wrecked. We are after all human beings with brains that hopefully result in using better judgement. But the problem too often occurs that when someone is given a hammer, they ultimately view the world as a bunch of nails. We all deserve better…much better.

  54. #54 |  Ellen | 

    “Keep records of all SWAT raids …” HAW!

    It’s surprising how often the records turn up missing, even when they are kept. And if the Law sees some *citizen* keeping records, they seem to prefer to arrest him and stomp his camera. The Law does not *want* an open society with good record-keeping.

  55. #55 |  Mrs. C | 

    #51…Oh gawd where do I begin? Much to unload here. Sorry for the length but I’d be obliged if all bare with me.

    …You’re welcome.

    #53…One thing that is common between war and these botched SWAT raids is that both consume lives and treasure and in the case of the latter, dead civilians, dead cops, cost of lawsuits, the cost of the monetary settlements and the survivors of the dead permanently embittered and their lives wrecked.

    …very sad…but very true.

    #53…We are after all human beings with brains that hopefully result in using better judgement. But the problem too often occurs that when someone is given a hammer, they ultimately view the world as a bunch of nails. We all deserve better…much better.

    …human beings…yes…but not always HUMANE.

    Without accountability…and consequences for wrongful actions…justice is denied…and without citizens’ support…involvement…and a dialogue…the issues that need to addressed…and resolved…will not see the light of day.

    To just be “deserving better”…isn’t going to happen…on its own.

    http://www.justiceforsal.com

  56. #56 |  DocHoliday916 | 

    Mrs. C, thank you for your comments. I am familiar with the tragedy you note. I see in earlier posts that this was our son. You have my condolences. I have silently watched this case as this case along with other recent tragedies is making my blood boil. Myself and many others did not serve this country to see this. I’ve seen war and it’s bad enough to see it on foreign soil and a scandalous poverty that in this country and with all of the talent we have at hand, cooler heads cannot prevail and find better ways to take violent criminals off the streets. The first of General Colin Powell’s rules is, “It can be done!” I agree that to deserve better, effort is required. As I said in previous posts, I’m just another unknown face in the crowd but there are many more out there like me who have been taking notice for some time we don’t like what has happened. I’d like to think in all humility that if we are angry at this SWAT behavior, something is wrong very very wrong. Further, I think it’s a pretty good bet that the police are here lurking reading these posts and hopefully, they’ll begin to see that the tide of opinion is turning against them and they can take the initiative and make the choices now to create new tactics techniques and procedures that minimizes the use of a SWAT team or eventually, the masters i.e. the people will impose on the public servants i.e. the police new procedures they will not like. All the best! -DH916

  57. #57 |  BatChainPuller | 

    “Probably because it didn’t fucking happen, dunphy. Or do you really want us to give the benefit of the doubt to the same people who shoot first and ask questions later when the suspect is holding a water nozzle, hero sandwich, golf club, Mars Bar, cellphone, etc.”

    Dunphy
    “happens all the fucking time……”

    But it didn’t happen it the imaginary case that you cited…did it?

    Similar to all the imaginary BS reports that juvenile SWAT teams use to justify whatever illegal BS they get their idiot selves involved with

  58. #58 |  Quote of the Day–Uncle (06/27/2011) | The Minuteman | 

    […] But if you’re an actual dangerous criminal suspected in 19 murders who has 20 guns in the house, they lure you out with a phone call. […]

  59. #59 |  nomorepolicestate | 

    And this is exactly why my local PD KNOWS i have and arsenal and a saferoom.

    If a SWAT team ever comes to terrorize my family they better kiss their wife and kids goodbye … cause they ain’t coming home.

    I have had it with this police state crap. Ya know how folks always talk about protecting themselves from the possibly of a SS type government arm.

    Well here it is … not lock and freaking load already its time to make the term SWAT = Testing your life insurance policy

  60. #60 |  DonM | 

    Really the solution to this problem is to deputize every non-felon American over 21.

    That way we are all police officers, and we all have the same rights as police officers.

    What, you say that police officers are trained in a government school so they can excercise the rights and responsibilities correctly? We all have been given training in a government school, except for the few who went to private school, and those tend to get better education and training than the average graduate of the government school.

  61. #61 |  Mrs. C | 

    #56

    thank you..for your condolences…all the best to you too.

    http://www.justiceforsal.com

  62. #62 |  Militant Libertarian » Officer Safety | 

    […] The Agitator […]

  63. #63 |  Joe Arpaio deserves a strongly-worded reprimand § Unqualified Offerings | 

    […] on the subject of police behavior, when Whitey Bulger was arrested Radley Balko noted that the cops didn’t send in SWAT to break down his door.  They tricked him into exiting the building and arrested him outside.  It seems that the SWAT […]

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