Another Isolated Incident

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

This one was in Chicago. And from what the article reports, it sounds awfully similar to the Cheye Calvo raid.

Paul Brown was working on his computer in his north suburban home when police smashed in the front door, pointed guns at and handcuffed him and other family members, and ransacked the house in a search for drugs.

The authorities had burst in immediately after a postal worker delivered a package to the home that they said contained marijuana. But a search of the house found no further contraband, and officers left without making an arrest.

Brown, outraged, said he was sure the cops had the wrong house. Police maintained they had the right place, but the target of their investigation wasn’t there at the time.

Brown, a 58-year-old who works in building design, said he supports law enforcement in general. But he said innocent bystanders shouldn’t be subject to such dangerous and damaging searches without any compensation.

“I was scared to death,” he said. “I really felt like a hostage. These guys are supposed to be on my side.”

The package delivered to the home in a middle-class neighborhood on Adelphi Avenue was addressed to someone named Oscar, who Brown said has never lived there and is unknown to him.

Brown would have liked police to pay for the $3,000 leaded-and-stained-glass door, lock and frame they broke, to clean up the mess they made, and to apologize. Police say that won’t happen.

Well of course that isn’t going to happen. Because the police aren’t on your side, Mr. Brown. They’re fighting a war. And you got in the way.

Sullivan did not release the complaint that states the evidence upon which the warrant was based, citing the ongoing investigation. But, he said, “we had a valid warrant, and it was a good search.”

After another member of the household accepted the package outside as he arrived home, officers knocked on the door and announced themselves, and waited an unspecified “reasonable” amount of time, as required by law before breaching the door, Sullivan said.

Brown disputed that, saying his 77-year-old mother-in-law was about 15 feet from the door but did not hear anything, and his two small dogs, who always bark when someone knocks, were silent.

Brown said the people who conducted the raid were dressed in SWAT-style clothing with black sweaters that said “police,” though at first he didn’t even realize who they were. He said they handcuffed and questioned him, along with his son-in-law, who had accepted the package but never opened it, and his son-in-law’s brother, who live in the house along with Brown’s daughter, wife and mother-in-law.

Notice how rarely the victims of these raids actually hear the knock-and-announce the police claim to have given? Going back to English common law, the entire point of the knock-and-announce requirement was to preserve the sanctity of the home—to give the occupants an opportunity to avoid the violence of a forced entry. Over the last 25 years or so, its purpose has changed to protect the police. Today, they announce themselves only so you won’t attempt to shoot them when they break down your door seconds later. The Supreme Court has ruled that as few as eight seconds between knocking and entering is sufficient. That’s hardly enough time for someone who is, say, sleeping to wake up and answer the door. And even if you could, the courts have also ruled that police can break down your door without waiting if they hear movement or see a light go on inside the house. The fear is that these could be indications that someone inside is arming themselves. Because the safety of police is more important than the safety of the rest of us, the fact that movement or light in the house could mean someone is merely trying to answer the door doesn’t really matter.

All of which means the centuries-old principle that the knock-and-announce requirement is necessary to preserve the home as a man’s castle and place of sanctuary . . . is as dead as Kathryn Johnston.

Sullivan said police have to enter such raids in a rush with overwhelming force, to prevent people from flushing or destroying evidence, and to prevent anyone from attacking police. Though Lake County MEG personnel have never been shot during such a raid, officers elsewhere have, and MEG officers have found guns next to dangerous criminals in the past, Sullivan said, making it a potentially dangerous mission.

Got that? Preserving a quantity of illicit drugs small enough to be quickly flushed down the toilet so the person in possession can later be prosecuted is a higher priority than not subjecting innocent people to having their doors torn down, physical abuse, and the terror of having guns pointed at their heads. Oh, and officer safety. Officer safety takes priority over everything else. Everything. Better a 77-year-old woman get rush, knock to the floor, and handcuffed than a single cop wearing Kevlar, holding an assault weapon, and carrying a ballistics shield be “attacked.”

He acknowledged that Brown might not be aware of any illegal activity by anyone in the house but said, “some people have secrets.” He added that police still expected to close the case with an arrest. As of Friday, Sullivan said there were no new developments in the case to report, and court records in Lake County showed no criminal charges filed in the case against members of Brown’s household.

Again, it’s about the priorities on display, here. Because one guy who may or may not be a relative of acquaintance of these people may have committed a marijuana offense, Sullivan sees nothing wrong to subjecting the entire family to the terror, violence, and danger of a tactical police raid.

“I understand when you walk away (without an arrest), that brings up a lot of questions,” Sullivan said. “But there’s a series of checks and balances … to make sure we’re doing everything right. We are concerned about the public as much as they are about themselves.”

So how did those checks and balances work out for Brown, his wife, his brother-in-law, and his mother-in-law? Let’s be clear, here. The “checks and balances” Sullivan is referring to here could better be called “formalities.” And when you tear down a man’s door, scare the hell out of him and his family, acknowledge they all may well be innocent, then refuse to repair the damage you’ve caused or apologize for what you subjected them to, “We are concerned about the public as much as they are about themselves” is so transparently false, I can’t help but wonder if Sullivan was smirking when he said it.

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64 Responses to “Another Isolated Incident”

  1. #1 |  Jim | 

    What is it going to take to stop this insanity?

  2. #2 |  Patrick H | 

    @Jim- when enough innocent people are killed. Or maybe just a few kids being shot in the line of fire.

    Which of course will be too late for them.

  3. #3 |  Aresen | 

    The Supreme Court has ruled that as few as eight seconds between knocking and entering is sufficient.

    I am willing to bet that even the eight-second standard is rarely met.

  4. #4 |  Mairead | 

    Chicago has long been notorious for its Gestapo-like cops.

  5. #5 |  Bill Wells | 

    “What is it going to take to stop this insanity?”

    The second American Revolution. But where are the Americans who are willing to spend their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in pursuit of anything but the next government handout?

  6. #6 |  SJE | 

    If he’s concerned about checks and balances, the PD could at least start by sending a check to balance the damage they did.

  7. #7 |  ghostsniper | 

    “But there’s a series of checks and balances … to make sure we’re doing everything right. We are concerned about the public as much as they are about themselves.”
    ============

    The checks and balances mean they have created an exit route for themselves in case the people they assault get uppity and file charges.

    I am a 57 yo building designer with people and pets in my house and if thugs attack us they will be met by a hail of shrapnel.

    That’s the way americans address violence, with overwhelming defense.

  8. #8 |  Red | 

    It stops when homeowners shoot the home invasion cops and the the juries nullify and acquit the home owners.

  9. #9 |  MH | 

    It won’t change until the people (us?) come up with some viable strategy to turn the tide. A second American revolution or homeowners shooting down cops in a gunfight, to be acquitted later by sympathetic jurors, is the stuff of fantasy.

  10. #10 |  a_random_guy | 

    I’m preaching to the choir, but: There is just no excuse for breaking into a home for a search warrant. The only acceptable reason for the police to force entry is if someone’s life is in imminent danger, for example, in a hostage situation.

    Otherwise, they can knock on the door like civilized people. If the people refuse to open the door, they can turn off the utilities, stake out the house and wait till the folks get hungry and thirsty.

  11. #11 |  Cyto | 

    I wonder how the “we don’t have to fix the stuff we break” thing works. It seems that if “procedures are followed” they can pretty much wreck your house, car, possessions, whatever… all with impunity. Only if they didn’t have a warrant and had no probable cause would they be liable?

    We’ve all seen the roadside vehicle searches where they take everything out of the car and toss it all over the shoulder of the road, even ripping up seats. All you get out of that is “just be more careful next time?” As a country we’re OK with that?

    In the real world you have to pay for damage you cause, even if you were totally justified in causing the damage. If I drop a glass vase at Macy’s while looking at it, I have to pay for it (unless they decide to be nice about it and let me off the hook). If the power company comes to do work on the lines in front of my house and their truck tears up my lawn, they have to fix it even though they had every right to be there and work on the lines. I’m not sure what the rational is for letting the PD smash in your nice, expensive front door and walk away without making you whole.

  12. #12 |  Cyto | 

    Just saw that Justin Bieber is the latest celebrity to get SWATted. Maybe when one of these famous people get shot by our protectors in faux army garb the tide of public opinion will shift. (right now the reaction is still on the side of the police – ‘look how these idiots wasted the police time! What if they were needed at a real emergency!?’)

  13. #13 |  jesse | 

    #9:

    The rationale is that you in Macy’s, or the power company, don’t have “qualified immunity”.

  14. #14 |  citalopram | 

    In other words, the ends justifies the means, which is anathema to any law-abiding, decent society.

  15. #15 |  citalopram | 

    @#4 Which would require bravery, temerity, and a willingness to die for one’s cause.

  16. #16 |  Jack Dempsey | 

    I feel so much safer today than I did yesterday.

  17. #17 |  Personanongrata | 

    …“We are concerned about the public as much as they are about themselves” is so transparently false, I can’t help but wonder if Sullivan was smirking when he said it.

    If Sullivan wasn’t smirking, he sure was giving all of the “Paul Browns” living within Chicago the “finger”.

  18. #18 |  Frank Hummel | 

    “What is it going to take to stop this insanity?”

    A few like Matthew David Stewart…

  19. #19 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    #4, #13: On the other hand, working to change people’s minds and going through the legal system is slow, frequently boring (at least to my mind), frustrating, and undramatic. I think it’s got at least as good a chance of working as violence does, and involves much less collateral damage.

  20. #20 |  Onlooker | 

    I’ll say it again (and again,…); thugs, pure and simple. Hell, it’s getting to where the mob is less dangerous than these assholes.

  21. #21 |  Dave Krueger | 

    A lot of this could be prevented by simply ending state sanctioned persecution of people with unapproved lifestyles (which is, whether you care to admit it or not, is exactly what laws against consensual crime are all about).

    These raids are nothing more than a symptom of a much more fundamental defect of human nature. People like to see bad things happen to people they don’t like. Rights are for people who are willing to conform to culturally acceptable behavior just like free speech is for people who don’t say things that are offensive.

    For those who see cops as the means by the riffraff are culled from society, the occasional mistake is perfectly acceptable. Besides, if the cops were there, those people must have done something to deserve it (a sentiment that has worked so well for conservatives that liberals have now adopted it as well).

  22. #22 |  EH | 

    What’s it going to take to stop it? Well, there’s a town-hall Presidential debate coming up, maybe someone should ask the powers-that-be.

  23. #23 |  EH | 

    I have a suspicion, perhaps too-hopeful, that this is all an extinction burst by law enforcement before the cannabis legalization occurs that everybody knows is imminent.

  24. #24 |  The Late Andy Rooney | 

    This actually happened in Beach Park, a village of about 10,000 in Lake County, a ways north of Chicago. To its credit, the local paper (Lake County News-Sun) had a front page story about the raid, and it generated quite a few outraged comments from citizens. But it has failed to follow up on the story, as far as I know.

    EH: I hope you’re right, but I have a feeling they’re just going to shift to other drugs. That’s why we hear constantly about the latest drug “epidemic” (meth, prescription pills, bath salts, FourLoko etc.).

  25. #25 |  el coronado | 

    @#21 –

    You may be right about the ‘last gasp for pot busts’ notion. But that ain’t gonna stop the ‘Police State/Wannabe Ninja-SEALS’ tactics. They’ll just move on to the next big prohibition, whatever it might be. But it WILL be something. Supersize cokes, Pate, “suspicious amounts” of cash….It’s too much fun to give up. Too lucrative. Too useful for training the populace.

  26. #26 |  Deoxy | 

    It stops when homeowners shoot the home invasion cops and the the juries nullify and acquit the home owners.

    No, that’s playing defense, and a defense with no offense ALWAYS fails eventually.

    No, it stops when vigilantes start killing the cops who do this at a time when said vigilantes can get away with it – sniping them at their homes and such.

    THAT’S when it stops. Everything before that just delays the inevitable and encourages the police to get more armor, bigger guns, more bullets, and more violent.

    Unfortunately, that point also causes ENORMOUS social damage – it only happens when the police, as a whole, as seen as the enemy. FAR FAR FAR better would be for those decent officers who rationalize the stuff the other officers do to stop rationalizing and start cleaning house.

    But sadly, that seems extremely unlikely at this point. There ARE good police departments in this country, but only because they have a good crop of officers. Once a police department is “lost”, it will filter almost all decent officers before they can ever join.

  27. #27 |  red | 

    [quote]No, that’s playing defense, and a defense with no offense ALWAYS fails eventually.

    No, it stops when vigilantes start killing the cops who do this at a time when said vigilantes can get away with it – sniping them at their homes and such.

    THAT’S when it stops. Everything before that just delays the inevitable and encourages the police to get more armor, bigger guns, more bullets, and more violent.[/quote]

    The liquor raids of the 1930s ended when they couldn’t get a jury to convict anyone involved with liquor. The same will happen when juries stop convicting people for defending their own homes. These raids are inherently dangerous for the cops. It’s easy as hell to fortify your place and make it very dangerous for home invaders. People haven’t started doing it simply shooting a cop = life imprisonment no matter how justified these days.

  28. #28 |  ShortWoman | 

    If insurance companies are smart, they will start covering these “isolated incidents” and then suing police departments for reimbursement. Perhaps if enough municipalities have to shell out big money to Allstate and State Farm, they will reform their policies!

  29. #29 |  red | 

    “No, it stops when vigilantes start killing the cops who do this at a time when said vigilantes can get away with it – sniping them at their homes and such.”

    Americans are very unlikely to ever stand for such a thing as it’s hard to identify the link between the cop being snipped and actual crimes such a cop commuted. For the most part the cop will be viewed as an innocent victim. It’s much easier to for Americans to support people standing up for their basic human rights to not have their homes violated in a violent manner. The victim and the aggressor in clear in such cases. This is why the cops go to such great lengths to lie about giving people a chance to let them in. They know the moment they are revealed as Nazi storm trooper then juries will start letting cop killers walk.

    The best chance any of us have to end this madness is to get onto juries and nullify every swat raid.

  30. #30 |  Jay | 

    I am a registered medical marijuana patient in Colorado, and there are regularly busts conducted by local ‘drug task forces’, as well as ‘knock and talks’ that also regularly lead to searches of property.

    Making marijuana legal will only give the cops a chance to pass a law for a minimum threshold of thc in the blood, whether it’s 5, 8 or 10ng. There have been attempts at this the last few years. The problems here are that the thresholds are way too low to show or prove impairment since marijuana reacts differently with different people. Some people who are heavy users could have high amounts of thc in their blood but are not impaired. The result, a DUID (Drugs) can not be challenged in court, just like the .08 standard for DUI’s.

    The police will just shift to stopping patients and forcibly drawing blood roadside.

  31. #31 |  MH | 

    Shortwoman, I’d like to agree, but immunity laws need reform. The immunity laws will likely block attempts to recover from the police department.

  32. #32 |  Burgers Allday | 

    here is the kind of thing that is going to stop it:

    http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?xmldoc=In%20FDCO%2020120815808.xml&docbase=CSLWAR3-2007-CURR

    Mr. Balko, this opinion came out while Jason and Mr. Eapen were temporrily in charge here. My blog entry on the case is here:

    http://police4aqi.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/petaluma-officer-seth-m-mcmullen-does-a-bad-job-iding-a-suspect/

    as far as I know, y blog entry was the only “media coverage” that this recent court opinion got.

    On a different case: Hummel is right, the task force that did the MDS rid is doing a lot fewer raids since then. There was an article about it and I hope to see more coverage of the MDS case here. It is a big one.

  33. #33 |  Sinchy | 

    Assuming there actually was a large amount of weed in the package and it wasn’t planted by the police, wouldn’t it have been a better strategy to stake out the house and surveil for drug buyers and other evidence of drug dealing, thereby netting more criminals on higher charges, instead of busting in so soon that the alleged drug dealers could have some deniability that they even knew what the package was?
    Wouldn’t it also be fair, since the police surely have heard of drugs being sent to unknowing recipients, to have given the Brown’s some time to open the package and report it to the police or send it back to the post office unopened.
    Of course these are preposterous suggestions and I have no idea how dangerous police work is.

  34. #34 |  Dante | 

    So, let’s review:

    Smash in the door of innocents? Check.
    Destroy the entire house looking for anything to charge them with? Check.
    Point guns at unarmed children, parents & grandparents? Check.
    Don’t pay for/repair the damage done? Check.
    Create ill-will between innocent home owners and the police? Check.
    NOT MAKE A SINGLE ARREST, BUT STILL CALL IT A “GOOD SEARCH”? Check.

    And the best one …..

    Do the exact same thing to another innocent family tomorrow? Priceless.

    Who gets such imminity from common sense? Who? Oh, yeah….

    Protect & Serve (Themselves!)

    That’s who.

  35. #35 |  MasterOfAllCreation | 

    I’m preparing to leave the country because the government is seriously out of control.

  36. #36 |  Bill Poser | 

    Why is the damage done in a raid not a “taking” under the Fifth Amendment, which requires compensation? As a matter of public policy, it makes sense for the state to pay for the damage rather than the home owner because it distributes the cost over the entire population rather than forcing random individuals (or, worse, selected but innocent individuals) to bear a large cost.

  37. #37 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Why is the damage done in a raid not a “taking” under the Fifth Amendment, which requires compensation?

    I wouldn’t assume it is not. A lawyer needs to bring a case on behalf of a client who is not interested in settling, make that argument and win.

  38. #38 |  M. Weiss | 

    The solution that is the only solution that is effective, is, in the immortal word of Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson in Death Wish), is “to respond more violently than your attackers.”
    This problem will continue until we fight back:

    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation…. We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
    ― Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn

  39. #39 |  MikeV | 

    #26 Deoxy

    Hope you weren’t in the UK when you made that “morally reprehensible ” post:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9601781/Jail-for-thug-who-wore-one-less-pig-t-shirt-after-death-of-policewomen.html

  40. #40 |  Aresen | 

    @ Burgers Allday | October 11th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    I am astonished that the judge denied ‘qualified immunity’ defense in that first case you cite.

  41. #41 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I am astonished that the judge denied ‘qualified immunity’ defense in that first case you cite.

    If you read qualified immunity cases as a whole, the results are generally encouraging. It is one reason I blog that area of 4aqi (Fourth Amendment, qualified immunity). Traditionally the idea was that Constitutionl suits were mostly brought by prisoners, and mostly over silly stuff (as opposed to, say, prison rape).

    There are still plenty of prisoner cases, but most 4aqi cases are not prisoner cases these days. Now that we live in a police state, plenty of just plain folks sue the cops. And the judiciary is doing a better job with these cases than the media (present company excepted) is. Sadly, nobody seems to be paying much attention to these good (and sometimes even courageous) judge opinions.

    Now, of course, winning against these qualified immunity motions (sometimes for judgement on the pleadings, usually for summary judgement) is not as good as winning the case, but it usually does seem to be the end of the case most times, at least as far as the law is concerned because the parties settle. But the qi decision means that the parties tend to leave aserchable public record of the bad police behavior, and one that usually has good cred.

    In another thread, somebody said, “Burgers, you don’t really think these cases do any good, do you?”

    Honestly, I think they do.

    “Its gotta be Burgers!” ™

  42. #42 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Again, it’s about the priorities on display, here. Because one guy who may or may not be a relative of acquaintance of these people may have committed a marijuana offense, Sullivan sees nothing wrong to subjecting the entire family to the terror, violence, and danger of a tactical police raid.

    After writing this I have to ask, in all seriousness, how can you still say that the police are a good thing Radley? In general? That they are needed? We didn’t get here quickly, we got here over a course of time that I would argue is a result of government always seeking more and more power. The drug war is a “crisis” that was used to justify granting that power. Robert Higgs has amply demonstrated this process in Crisis and Leviathan. This isn’t something unfortunate, it is something to be expected, this kind of thing.

    Sinchy,

    Of course these are preposterous suggestions and I have no idea how dangerous police work is.

    I think the claims of danger are over-stated. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs, electric utility linemen, delivery drivers, farmers/ranchers, iron workers, roofers, garbage men, aircraft pilots, loggers, and fishermen all have a higher rate of fatal injury than police.

    Fishermen have a fatal injury rate of well over 100, that is 100/100,000. So even the “most deadly job” is not that deadly. In other words, the probability (expressed as a percentage) of a fatal injury for a fisherman is around 0.1% maybe a bit more.

    http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0010.pdf

    See page 17.

  43. #43 |  Bob | 

    #33: Sinchy

    Assuming there actually was a large amount of weed in the package and it wasn’t planted by the police, wouldn’t it have been a better strategy to stake out the house and surveil for drug buyers and other evidence of drug dealing, thereby netting more criminals on higher charges, instead of busting in so soon that the alleged drug dealers could have some deniability that they even knew what the package was?
    Wouldn’t it also be fair, since the police surely have heard of drugs being sent to unknowing recipients, to have given the Brown’s some time to open the package and report it to the police or send it back to the post office unopened.
    Of course these are preposterous suggestions and I have no idea how dangerous police work is.

    That would be the case if the police gave a flying fuck if the Browns might be innocent.

    No, the assumption is that the perps are guilty and that obviously, since they are guilty… more drugs will be in there… and cash, too. All the cops need is an excuse to get in the door to make a big bust.

    Police in major jurisdictions have long ago learned that “Investigation” and “Due Process” are dead ends. Volume processing of perps is what delivers results. Who are perps? Anyone who is not a card carrying member of “Normal” society. Or… can be spun as such or explained as an “Isolated Incident.”

    Think about it. In the time it takes to investigate one claim, 5 houses can be hit in these run and gun search warrant tactics.

  44. #44 |  Onlooker | 

    Sinchy: Of course these are preposterous suggestions and I have no idea how dangerous police work is.

    I think the claims of danger are over-stated.
    ____________________________________________

    Steve Verdon – I do believe your sarcasm detector is malfunctioning.

  45. #45 |  L.J.Brooks | 

    A quick question, “Aren’t search warrants public domain?”

  46. #46 |  Andrew Roth | 

    These armed-to-the-teeth home defense scenarios are viable, but only if the police sincerely believe that that is a likely scenario.

    Keep in mind that when SWAT teams go full Rambo in these raids, it is consistently against people they do not believe to be dangerous. The moment they believe that they’re dealing with people who have booby-trapped their property or are prepared to open fire, they proceed with utmost caution. That’s the point at which they bring in the bomb squad and expert negotiators who are prepared to stay on the phone all night.

    That, by the way, was exactly what Daryl Gates intended SWAT to be, and to a large extent it is exactly what LAPD SWAT has been. LAPD SWAT recruits from the cream of the Metropolitan Division, itself one of the most elite divisions in the LAPD. That’s how LAPD SWAT ends up with some of the sharpest, most physically fit, most street-smart, most judgmentally sound cops in the city, while its imitators more often recruit any asshole who gets a hard-on at the sight of combat gear.

    The media are too ignorant (I’d say to the point of being idiotic) to tell the difference between the real deal and the poseurs, so they present all these untrained, impulsive small-town wannabes as badasses of great courage for breaking into the homes of unarmed innocents. I’d say that the poseurs and their media abettors would do well to be dressed down by an LAPD SWAT commander at roll call. At least some of them would eat their portion of humble pie. As it is, they clearly believe that they have the undivided support and respect of America’s cops. If bona fide SWAT cops, or other good cops for that matter, start leveling with them, they could be marginalized in a hurry.

    The key thing to remember about the rogue SWAT teams that Radley covers is that they aren’t courageous; they’re bullies, and bullies prey on the weak. If they truly think that they’re at risk of life or limb, they’ll simmer the hell down and be gentlemen.

  47. #47 |  Cyto | 

    One quibble:

    …the rogue SWAT teams that Radley covers…

    There’s nothing “rogue” about these guys. They are doing exactly what their leaders are asking them to do.

  48. #48 |  jim | 

    I think it is high time for police officers to carry civil liability insurance for themselves. This insurance would cover the costs of any civil lawsuits brought against the cop by the public. If there are too many civil suits the insurance companies could refuse to cover the officer and he would no longer qualify to work in law enforcement. There is no reason the taxpayer should pay for the cost of defending cops and their illegal actions.

    This would be similar to malpractice insurance carried by medical professionals. I am required to carry a $1,000,000 per occurrence with a $4,000,000 umbrella policy to be able to work on the locations I do.

  49. #49 |  UvalDuvalCuckoo | 

    I have 2 friends from HS that are cops, and have had more than a handful that are Prosecutors. Ironically as hell, oneof the Prosecutors was the most liberal , beatles loving guy in our class (I’m of the late part of GenX so Beatles love wasn’t all that common in HS). When he told me he was a prosecutor I was shocked, and his response was “Well, first off, I have to pay my bills and it was the only avenue I have right now. Also, more importantly, they are all guilty. I’ll be the first to admit that cops often overstep their bounds, but it’s on people that are guilty in the first place”. And keep in mind that this was from a kid who’s parents were both major hippies and he’s still very very ‘liberal’ at least to teh extent he considers himself a socialist. On the cop side, (and admittedly, I can’t take my few friends as a 100% representation of all cops, but I suspect they are), they pretty much only have friends that are other cops. That really tends to distort your thought process. I can see that when I ask them about brutality, it makes them very uncomfortable and they were both very good people back in HS. If their social circle was common joes, I suspect they’d look at the world much differently and compassionately, but b/c all the deal with is other cops, which almost all believe that the public is out to get them, they have a jaded view. They really believe that they are getting it from each angle (and Dunphy sings the same tunes) – Community Activists, Bosses that are only concerned with not making waves , a public that wants crime reduced by will sue at the blink of an eye, and of course the whole slew of ‘bad guys’ out to make sure they don’t go home to their families. They’ll argue until they’re blue in the face that if you’re out driving past midnight, particularly on Thur, Fri or Saturday or any holiday, that you’re almost certainly drunk b/c most people are at home sleeping. And when you believe that, it’s very easy to have confirmation bias kick in. They believe that if you see Greatful dead stickers on the car, there’s drugs in it. They believe if you have a tricked out impala or SUV, that you’re a drug dealer or at elast have drugs and guns on you just b/c you’re trying to live the lifestyle. And for them, b/c maybe 70-80% of the time they’re right, they think that justifies the ‘minor inconvenience’ of the people that. And then you have the whole fact that if you’re trained to do military tactics (and many cops have a hard ass complex) that you want to prove it works – that if you never use it than it’s a wasted talent – so they dream of the time they can kick bad guy ass and brag about it. When you’re chopming at the bit to kick ass, you’ll find occasion by skewing your world view. And on the departmental note, I’ve heard form one of them that while corruption is rampant it’s almost never an individual officer. When you’re new and in a bad precinct other cops might steal a few things from a break in crime scene. You’re expected to take something too – that way you can never go BoyScout without them having plenty to use to discredit you. If you won’t play ball, you transfer. When you have a situation like this, way more than unions, you have a case where it’s literally life and freedom for everyone if one person decides to have a conscience. And just like we see with otherwise smart decent people who do evil stuff in cults, peer pressure and acceptance can be quite powerful. I’ve heard too many times “If that’s what it takes to get rid of bad guys” coming from people who excuse this type of stuff b/c of imaginary threats they embrace after watching Nancy Grace each night. I’ve heard more than a few people tell me that no one innocent has really been put to death but even if a few have, it’s better than wasting tax dollars supporting this ‘scum’. Until that sentiment dies, we’ll be fighting an uphill battle. And usually all it takes is for one of these fine upstanding “If you didn’t do anything wrong” types to have their ox gored, or their Kids get roughed up by a cop to have them doing a 180. Pathetic really

  50. #50 |  a_random_guy | 

    “It’s easy as hell to fortify your place”

    This. Three things

    1. When you replace your windows, pay the bit extra for tempered glass (the stuff rocks bounce off of), at least for windows on the ground floor. They’ll pay for themselves the first time your kids throw a baseball at the house.

    2. Make sure that your exterior doors are solid-core, and have a multi-point locking system. Exterior doors ought to be solid-core anyway, but a decent locking system (that attaches the door top, side and bottom) is less common and a bit more expensive.

    3. Last but not least, locks. The standard locks found on most houses can be picked by a kid with a hairpin, or the cylinder can just be knocked out with a hammer and screwdriver. Buy a decent set of locks, like those used on commercial buildings.

    These measures protect you against the most common break-ins, and really ought to be standard on every house. Coincidentally, this also includes break-ins by cops.

  51. #51 |  croaker | 

    Eventually the war on drugs will go asymmetrical. Against the pigs.

    The only thing a bully understands is overwhelming force. That means you need to put them in ICU or a slab. That is what will end this shit, absent a complete reversal on qualified immunity.

  52. #52 |  More News from Good Ol’ USSA for Friday » Scott Lazarowitz's Blog | 

    […] Radley Balko: Another Isolated Incident […]

  53. #53 |  a_random_guy | 

    I just came across this in the original news report: “Upon delivery of the package, the warrant stated, there was probable cause to justify a search”

    Read that again: the package is mentioned in the search warrant. At the time the search warrant is being signed, the package has not yet been delivered. The police break into the house immediately after the postal service delivers it. They search the house and confiscate the (unopened) package.

    So…just how do the police know about this package in advance? How do they know it contains drugs? Did they, perhaps, send it themselves?

  54. #54 |  Over the River | 

    Did I miss the part where the thugs killed the dogs?

  55. #55 |  Detroiter | 

    Several years ago, Patty Hearst found herself with a similar package delivered to her house and had the foresight to leave it on the porch. She went inside, called the police, and stymied the goons waiting to break down her door. Since she didn’t bring it inside, the bust was a bust.

    Hearst has more reasons than average folks to be paranoid, but I found it instructive.

  56. #56 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The second American Revolution. But where are the Americans who are willing to spend their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor in pursuit of anything but the next government handout?

    You really think a revolution is going to happen before a massive flight? The “best” will move, far, far, away and leave behind all the others to enjoy what they created.

  57. #57 |  Mairead | 

    11 Cyto: I’m not sure what the rationale is for letting the PD smash in your nice, expensive front door and walk away without making you whole.

    “The king can do no wrong”.

    Like laws forbidding suicide, divorce, abortion, and pot-smoking, it’s a holdover from when we were the actual property of the king. Obviously property can’t be allowed to complain about what its owner does to it.

    There are still too many such laws in this mis-named “land of the free”.

  58. #58 |  Kent | 

    The Las Vegas Review Journal gets it…

    “On the other hand, while police are granted wide discretion to deal with potentially dangerous situations, they’re not supposed to shoot unarmed citizens who pose no discernible threat to anyone. And the problems with promiscuously deploying AR-15s should have been obvious not merely after the death of Trevon Cole, but as long ago as the unnecessary 2003 shooting death of Orlando Barlow.”

    http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/use-of-deadly-force-goes-to-grand-jury-173662661.html

  59. #59 |  theCL Report: Decline, Delusion, Despair | 

    […] Another Isolated Incident […]

  60. #60 |  marie | 

    They’ll just move on to the next big prohibition, whatever it might be.

    Child pornography. Prosecutors who want to look tough on crime like an easy, sure target and child porn defendants are ridiculously easy to convict. Plus, nobody likes to defend these guys so the chance of someone raising a stink is minimal.

    New Hampshire recently passed a law allowing the defense to tell the jury that they have the authority to decide if the law is properly applied in the case before them. When more states pass laws like that, when more jurors understand their responsibilities, that’s when we might start seeing more trials. More trials would be a very good thing.

  61. #61 |  supercat | 

    //Keep in mind that when SWAT teams go full Rambo in these raids, it is consistently against people they do not believe to be dangerous.//

    I wish people would stop using the same acronym for the SWAT-Wannabe-Aggressive-Thugs as was coined by the Los Angeles SWAT teams. The wannabes very often (perhaps the majority of the time) use reckless tactics which are detrimental to the safety of officers and citizens alike. The notion that such tactics are necessary to ensure officer safety is belied by the fact that, as you note, the police use *less* aggressive tactics against people whom they have reason to believe are more dangerous.

    I wonder what would happen if some county prosecutor somewhere decided to prosecute the wannabes for robbery (along with attempted murder or murder if anyone is shot or killed)? The Fourth Amendment says, in no uncertain terms, that unreasonable searches are illegitimate. While “reasonableness” does not require any particular balance between avoiding risk to officers, avoiding risk to citizens, and avoiding damage to citizens’ property, actions which are worse in all legitimate regards than obvious alternatives are unreasonable and thus illegitimate.

    Incidentally, I wish courts would recognize that the evaluation of any “good faith” claim is inherently a factual rather than legal determination, and thus any “good faith” claim by the state should be subject to trial-court scrutiny. For example, it’s generally accepted that police may legitimately force entry to a property for which they have a warrant if they first make a good faith effort to let potential occupants admit them. If courts recognized defendants’ rights to have jurors consider whether or not police made a genuine good-faith effort to let the occupants admit them, and instructed jurors not to construe against a defendant any evidence which was gathered in bad faith, I suspect many police officers would start behaving in such fashion as to make everyone safer.

  62. #62 |  Linda | 

    Officer safety takes priority over everything else…..yes, I have actually been told that by a police officer. While commenting on Facebook about Puppycide, a police officer (or so he presented himself as a police officer) actually responded to me and his very first line was “Linda, officer safety is paramount”. Paramount. I hate that word.

  63. #63 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @62

    Google: sylvester fdle

    At the end of September the authorities found the police slaying of Andrew Scott as justified. Interestingly, they suggested that it might have been justified if he shot Officer Sylvester instead of other way around.

  64. #64 |  croaker | 

    @62 And this is why I don’t exactly give a shit when a cop dies “in the line of duty”. With very few exceptions, law enforcement is corrupt and criminal, and their badges serve as an unconstitutional patent of nobility.

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