Category: Police Militarization

All Things Warrior Cop

Monday, August 5th, 2013

originalSince I don’t regularly update this blog anymore, I figure it’s a good place to put up a post of my speaking schedule and various items related to my book. It’ll stay at the top of the page. So check back here often. We’re also still adding dates on the book talk/signing tour.

 

Year-End Lists

•The Nieman Foundation’s Top 10 Investigative Journalism books of 2013.

• The Kansas City Star’s top books of the year.

• Gizmodo’s best books of the year.

 

Public Events:

• January 29th, 2013, noon, Southern Illinois School of Law, Carbondale, Illinois.

• February 11, 2014, noon, University of Hawaii School of Law, Honolulu, Hawaii.

• February 21, time TBA, debate with Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Phoenix, Arizona. (Exact location TBA.)

• March 4, 2014, noon, University of Kansas School of Law, Lawrence, Kansas.

• March 5, 2014, noon, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, Kansas City, Missouri.

• March 25, 2014, noon, University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, Maryland.

• April 8, 2014, noon, Penn State University School of Law, University Park, Pennsylvania.

 

(Previous Events)

• September 26, Time, Woodburn Hall, Room 120, 7:30pm, Bloomington, Indiana: Speech and book signing.

• July 9 — Book signing. Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tennessee, 6:30pm.

• July 10 — Book release party. Mercy Lounge, Nashville, Tennessee, 7pm. With music from the Cold Stares and Kate Tucker and the Sons of Sweden.

• July 22 — Book release party. HR-57, Washington, D.C., 6:30 pm. With music from the Cold Stares.

• July 23 — Talk, panel, and book signing. Busboys & Poets, Washington, D.C., 6:30pm. Co-sponsored by the ACLU, the Cato Institute, the Huffington Post, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

• July 24 — Capitol Hill Book Forum, with Mark Lomax of the National Tactical Officers Association. Rayburn Office Building, Washington, D.C., 12pm. Sponsored by the Cato Institute. (Watch video of this event here.)

• July 27, 3pm: Talk, book signing at Big Blue Marble Book Store, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

• August 17, 2:20pm, Austin, Texas, Police Accountability Summit, sponsored by Peaceful Streets Project: Speech and book signing.

• August 24, 1pm, Libertas Found,  5430 West Chester Rd., West Chester, Ohio: Book signing. Sponsored by the Ohio Libertarian Party.

• August 29, 7pm Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, Utah: Speech and book signing, sponsored by Libertas, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy at the University of Utah.

• September 3, noon, University of Memphis Law School, Memphis, Tennessee:

• September 5, Time TBA, Indy Reads Books, Indianapolis, Indiana: Book signing, sponsored by the Marion County Libertarian Party.

•September 18, noon, University of Illinois College of Law, Champaign, Illinois.

• September 18, 6:15pm, Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Avenue, Angel Reading Room, Chicago, Illinois: Speech, panel discussion, and book signing. Co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union Illinois, Chicago Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, Illinois Campaign to End the New Jim Crow, Mansfield Institute for Social Justice & Transformation (Roosevelt University), National Lawyers Guild (Chicago), People’s Law Office, Project NIA, TruthOut, Women’s All Points Bulletin

• October 14, Woody’s Roadside, 3008 Bienville Blvd, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Sponsored by the Jackson County, Mississippi Libertarian Party.

• October 15, Mobile, Alabama: Speech and book signing. Sponsored by the Mobile Federalist Society.

October 17, 5:30pm, Independence Institute, Denver, Colorado: Book forum. Sponsored by the Independence Institute.

• October 21, University of Colorado Law School, Boulder, Colorado.

• October 22, noon, University of Denver College of Law, Denver, Colorado.

• October 26, Students for Liberty Regional Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

• October 30, noon, University of New Hampshire Law School, Concord, New Hampshire.

• October 31, noon, Boston University Law School, Boston, Massachusetts.

• November 2, Students for Liberty Regional Conference, Boston, Massachusetts.

• November 12, noon, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans, Louisiana.

 

Book Reviews:

• A review from Kirkus Reviews.

• A review from Publishers Weekly.

• A review from the New York Journal of Books.

• A review from the Economist.

• Bruce Schneier’s review in the Wall Street Journal.

• Former Baltimore police officer and Cop in the Hood author Peter Moskos’ review in the Pacific Standard.

• New York criminal defense attorney Scott Greenfield’s review at his Simple Justice blog.

Former NYPD Det. John J. Baeza’s review at the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition blog.

• Former Redondo Beach, California Lt. Diane Goldstein’s review at Huffington Post.

• L.A.P.D. officer and pseudonymous writer Jack Dunphy’s review for National Review. (Behind a 25 cent paywall.)

• Gene Healy in the Washington Examiner.

• Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy.

• John Payne in the American Conservative.

• Hal from the Right Thinking From the Left Coast blog.

• “Mad Rocket Scientist” at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog.

Phillip Smith’s review at the Drug War Chronicle.

• Nate Carlisle review in the Salt Lake Tribune.

• Mike Riggs’ review at the Weekly Standard.

• Chase Madar in the Washington Spectator.

• Damian J. Penny in Canadian Lawyer.

• Paul J. Wyden in the Charleston Gazette.

• Mark Draughn: (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5).

Amazon reviews.

 

My Articles:

“Rise of the Warrior Cop,” in the Wall Street Journal.

“A Gallery of Notable Police Raids,” in the ABA Journal.

My “Raid of the Day” series at Huffington Post.

“7 Ways the Obama Administration Has Accelerated Police Militarization,” at Huffington Post.

“Former Cops Speak Out on Police Militarization,” at Huffington Post.

“Welcome to the Police-Industrial Complex,” at Huffington Post.

“The Marketing of Police Militarism,” at Huffington Post.

• “Too Many Cops Are Told They’re Soldiers Fighting a War. How Did We Get Here?” at the ACLU blog.

• “Senator Sam Ervin, “No-Knock” Warrants, and the Fight to Stop Cops from Smashing into Homes the Way Burglars Do,” at the ACLU blog.

• “ACLU Launches Nationwide Investigation Into Police Militarization,” at Huffington Post.

My response to PoliceOne: “SWAT Cop Says American Neighborhoods Are ‘Battlefields,’ Claims Cops Face Same Dangers As Soldiers In Afghanistan”

 

Excerpts:

Salon: Part One. Part Two. Part Three. Part Four.

ABA Journal.

Alternet.

The Nashville Scene.

Business Insider.

TruthOut.

 

Other Coverage:

BBC video on police militarization. (This is one is a favorite. They did a great job.)

• “Uphold the Third Amendment,” by Glenn Reynolds at USA Today.

• “SWAT-Team Nation,” by Sarah Stillman in The New Yorker.

• “In Rise of the Warrior Cop, Radley Balko tackles the dangers of militarized police units run amok on U.S. soil,” the Nashville Scene.

• “Family pets get it as Swat warrior cops go in all guns blazing,” in the  Sunday Mail U.K. (Paywalled.)

• “Overkill: Police SWAT teams sent to fight poker games, liquor violations,” Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (reporter blog).

• “SWAT Teams Save Lives,” Alfred Regnery at Breitbart.com. (Negative.)

• “Editorial: Does city need a BearCat? Think carefully, please,” Concord Monitor.

• “From Tom Paine to Glenn Greenwald, we need partisan journalism,” Jack Shafer at Reuters.

John Stossel’s column on warrior cops.

• The Heritage Foundation on police militarization.

• Coverage in the Greenfield, Indiana Daily Reporter.

Editorial in the Washington Times.

Blog post at the San Francisco Chronicle.

• A series of (mostly negative) responses on the website PoliceOne.

• Coverage in the Deseret Review.

• Coverage in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Blog post at the Washington Monthly.

• Op-ed by Rick Holmes at the Metro West Daily.

• Coverage of a Chicago book event from Huffington Post.

• First Things.

• Editorial in the Idaho State Journal.

• Discussion of the book and related issues in the Harvard Policy Review.

Kansas City Star list of the top books of 2013.

 

Interviews:

Text:

Interview with Tennessee’s Chapter 16.

Interview with Vice.

Interview with Antiwar.com.

Interview with Salon.

• Interview with the Washington Times: Part One. Part Two.

Forum at Crooks & Liars.

Book Salon at Firedoglake.

My Reddit AMA.

Truthout.

 

Audio:

ABA Journal podcast.

Op-Ed News podcast with Rob Kall.

City Journal podcast with Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis.

The Sex, Politics, and Religion Show with Jamila Bey (and Ed Brayton).

think, with Krys Boyd on KERA in Dallas, Texas.

Free Talk Live.

The Peter Schiff Show (requires subscription).

Cultural Baggage, with Dean Becker.

Majority report with Sam Seder.

• Hour-long interview with KUER public radio in Salt Lake City.

Interview with Stansbury radio.

• Podcast interview with Matt Lewis at The Daily Caller.

Occupy Radio interview.

 

 

Video:

• BBC narrative. (This one is really great.)

 

• “All-In with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC:

 

• Reason.tv:

 

• “The Real News,” on The Blaze TV:

 

• RT America:

 

• HuffPost Live:

 

• The Thom Hartmann Show, on RT.

 

• “Happening Now” on Fox News.

 

• “Morning Joe” on MSNBC:

 

• Debate with an Ohio sheriff on Fox Business News’ “Stossel.”

 

 

• “The Majority Report” radio show:

 

Interview with Ron Paul for The Ron Paul Channel.

 

Real Time with Bill Maher (Overtime segment — book interview itself not available online.)

Scenes from Militarized America

Friday, November 16th, 2012

From a drug raid in Wilson, North Carolina.

 

 

 

Morning Links

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
  • I'm overcompensating.Your drug war at work: St. Paul, Minnesota cops stomp a man’s head, then fire a flash grenade at his disabled mother curing a cocaine raid. She suffered third-degree burns. They found three grams of pot and a legal handgun. Taxpayers, not the cops, will pay the two a $400,000 settlement.
  • Man attempts to become the walking embodiment of New York Times trend stories.
  • LDS elders get swept up in a SWAT raid while at the home of two drug suspects they were counseling.
  • Last night, Reason’s Nick Gillespie debate former DEA administrator Asa Hutchinson on drug legalization. You can watch here.
  • The federal courts continue to shield even egregious prosecutorial misconduct from any real accountability. Smart lawyerly people: I haven’t read the 11th Circuit opinion yet, but given that absolute immunity is judge-made law, wouldn’t the Hyde Amendment, which is statutory law, take priority in this case?
  • Headline of the day.
  • Striking photos from the Munich subway system.
  • Naomi Klein: People who oppose corporate welfare are just shilling for corporations. Or something like that.
  • The photo is from a series of raids on backyard marijuana gardens in Santa Rosa, California. Best line from the article: “O’Leary, the sheriff’s lieutenant, said the show of force by authorities and their tactics were deliberate, selected in part because there is a heavy gang presence and lots of children in the neighborhood.” Ah, so there are children nearby. Well then let’s make the raids as volatile as possible!

Milton Friedman, the War on Drugs, and Last Tuesday Night

Friday, November 9th, 2012

In light of this week’s milestone victories for common sense in Colorado and Washington, here’s Milton Friedman—one of my personal heroes—writing an open letter to Drug Czar William Bennett in the Wall Street Journal.

In Oliver Cromwell’s eloquent words, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” about the course you and President Bush urge us to adopt to fight drugs. The path you propose of more police, more jails, use of the military in foreign countries, harsh penalties for drug users, and a whole panoply of repressive measures can only make a bad situation worse. The drug war cannot be won by those tactics without undermining the human liberty and individual freedom that you and I cherish.

You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are a scourge that is devastating our society. You are not mistaken in believing that drugs are tearing asunder our social fabric, ruining the lives of many young people, and imposing heavy costs on some of the most disadvantaged among us. You are not mistaken in believing that the majority of the public share your concerns. In short, you are not mistaken in the end you seek to achieve.

Your mistake is failing to recognize that the very measures you favor are a major source of the evils you deplore. Of course the problem is demand, but it is not only demand, it is demand that must operate through repressed and illegal channels. Illegality creates obscene profits that finance the murderous tactics of the drug lords; illegality leads to the corruption of law enforcement officials; illegality monopolizes the efforts of honest law forces so that they are starved for resources to fight the simpler crimes of robbery, theft and assault.

Drugs are a tragedy for addicts. But criminalizing their use converts that tragedy into a disaster for society, for users and non-users alike. Our experience with the prohibition of drugs is a replay of our experience with the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.

I append excerpts from a column that I wrote in 1972 on “Prohibition and Drugs.” The major problem then was heroin from Marseilles; today, it is cocaine from Latin America. Today, also, the problem is far more serious than it was 17 years ago: more addicts, more innocent victims; more drug pushers, more law enforcement officials; more money spent to enforce prohibition, more money spent to circumvent prohibition.

Had drugs been decriminalized 17 years ago, “crack” would never have been invented (it was invented because the high cost of illegal drugs made it profitable to provide a cheaper version) and there would today be far fewer addicts. The lives of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent victims would have been saved, and not only in the U.S. The ghettos of our major cities would not be drug-and-crime-infested no-man’s lands. Fewer people would be in jails, and fewer jails would have been built.

Columbia, Bolivia and Peru would not be suffering from narco-terror, and we would not be distorting our foreign policy because of narco-terror. Hell would not, in the words with which Billy Sunday welcomed Prohibition, “be forever for rent,” but it would be a lot emptier.

Decriminalizing drugs is even more urgent now than in 1972, but we must recognize that the harm done in the interim cannot be wiped out, certainly not immediately. Postponing decriminalization will only make matters worse, and make the problem appear even more intractable.

Alcohol and tobacco cause many more deaths in users than do drugs. Decriminalization would not prevent us from treating drugs as we now treat alcohol and tobacco: prohibiting sales of drugs to minors, outlawing the advertising of drugs and similar measures. Such measures could be enforced, while outright prohibition cannot be. Moreover, if even a small fraction of the money we now spend on trying to enforce drug prohibition were devoted to treatment and rehabilitation, in an atmosphere of compassion not punishment, the reduction in drug usage and in the harm done to the users could be dramatic.

This plea comes from the bottom of my heart. Every friend of freedom, and I know you are one, must be as revolted as I am by the prospect of turning the United States into an armed camp, by the vision of jails filled with casual drug users and of an army of enforcers empowered to invade the liberty of citizens on slight evidence. A country in which shooting down unidentified planes “on suspicion” can be seriously considered as a drug-war tactic is not the kind of United States that either you or I want to hand on to future generations.

Friedman wrote that 22 years ago.

In writing my book over the last several months, I’ve been waist-deep in the drug war propaganda of the early 1970s, and then of the 1980s and 1990s: the government dissemination of flat-out lies, the ceaseless efforts by politicians (ably abetted by a media always eager to pounce on sensationalism) to degrade and dehumanize drug offenders, the relentless martial rhetoric and calls to arms. There were the insane court decisions that shredded the Fourth Amendment. I’ve decided my favorite is United States v. Montoya de Herandez, in which the Supreme Court ruled that customs agents can seize someone coming in on an international flight, hold her incommunicado, then detain her until government agents can watch her defecate in front of them. There were the deeply cynical policies pushed by politicians, like the no-knock raid, which was never asked for police officials or recommended by criminologists, but was an idea dreamed up by Nelson Rockefeller aides (then later adopted by Nixon in the 1968 campaign) as a way to appeal white fears about black crime. There was a time when it was railed against on the floor of Congress (yes, really) and in the Supreme Court (yes, really) as a constitutional abomination, as an affront to the founding principles of the Castle Doctrine and the right to be let alone. When Congress first imposed the policy on Washington, D.C., the city’s police chief refused to use it (yes, really!). Today, it’s such an ingrained part of law enforcement, you’d be hard pressed to find a narcotics cop who could imagine ever doing his job without it. And of course, there are the scores and scores of heart-wrenching stories of death and destruction wrought by all of this madness.

Anyway, all of this was fresh in my head as I watched the election results come in Tuesday night. Whether or not Obama respects the wishes of voters in Washington and Colorado is really only relevant in the short term. I’m now convinced that we are finally winning the long game. I mean Jesus, medical marijuana just barely lost in Arkansas. I guess what I’m getting at here is that spending the last several months reading and writing about just how insane things were at the height of the drug war made me particularly aware of just how magnificent Tuesday night was. The tide is turning. It isn’t often easy to find reasons for optimism when you cover these issues day in and day out. Seeing outright legalization pass in two fairly large states—there’s no other way to interpret that as a sign that we are slowly returning to sanity. This would have been unthinkable 10 or 15 or 20 or 25 years ago.

Friedman’s was always the voice of reason on this issue. But 22 years ago it was a relatively lonely voice, particularly on the right (William Buckley was good on pot). That’s no longer the case. Yes, some of the most obstinate opposition still comes form the right, although as you’ve seen on this site,  it also comes from left-of-center paternalists and editorial boards. And most politicians of all stripes are, typically, a good 10 years behind the public on all of this. But the culture warriors are dying off. The coalition for sensible drug policy is broad, diverse, and has been gathering strength and momentum with each election.

The public is turning. Tuesday was historic. Enjoy it.

Morning Links

Friday, November 9th, 2012

I’ve been neglecting you. But just think, in the spring you’ll have your own portable collection of groin-punching, blood-pressure raising stories to pull down off your bookshelf—any time you like!

I do have some thoughts about the election. I just don’t have time to put them into a more substantive post at the moment. And they’re more about the various ballot measures than the election itself. Summary: I think that for the most part, there’s lots of reason for optimism in Tuesday night’s results. Even on the GOP side, the one Republican senator who managed to win a competitive Senate seat this week was Jeff Flake, a devoted fiscal conservative and principled advocate for limited government who also happens to be pro-immigration, pro-internet gambling, favors ending the sanctions with Cuba, and who generally avoids the culture wars. He’s a huge improvement over his predecessor. And he won in a state filled with Latinos and rock-ribbed conservatives. He’s a template for the rest of the party.

On to the links:

  • Cop tries to kill dog during drug raid, shoots fellow cop instead.
  • “The Permanent Militarization of America.”
  • In Colorado, legalization of marijuana got more votes than Obama.
  • Carlos Miller wins again. And how he’s suing the cops who deleted the video depicting his illegal arrest. You’d think Miami police would know to just leave him the hell alone.
  • North Korean court rules that the country’s military can torture dissidents with impunity.
  • A new front in the war on vegetable gardens. Don’t know about you, but if these stories ending up pitting the militant locavores and anti-obesity paternalists in an epic battle with the petty zoning tyrants . . . I’m making popcorn.
  • Hey, remember when super PACs were going to destroy American democracy? Not so much. Of course, when the anti-Citizens United crowd would say things like “this will destroy American democracy,” they actually meant, “this will help the candidates I don’t like!” Which means that if and when the GOP ever gets its act together (more likely: when they Democrats inevitably overplay their hand), we’ll be back to blaming money in politics for election results again.

Morning Links

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Afternoon Links

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Morning Links

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Saturday Morning Links: Millennials, Drugs, and Defecation

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Another Isolated Incident

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Another Isolated Incident

Friday, October 12th, 2012

 

Montana SWAT team drops a flash grenade through a window into a bedroom where two children are sleeping. No arrests. No alleged meth lab.

A 12-year-old girl suffered burns to one side of her body when a flash grenade went off next to her as a police SWAT team raided a West End home Tuesday morning.

“She has first- and second-degree burns down the left side of her body and on her arms,” said the girl’s mother, Jackie Fasching. “She’s got severe pain. Every time I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes.”

Medical staff at the scene tended to the girl afterward and then her mother drove her to the hospital, where she was treated and released later that day.

A photo of the girl provided by Fasching to The Gazette shows red and black burns on her side.

Police Chief Rich St. John said the 6 a.m. raid at 2128 Custer Ave., was to execute a search warrant as part of an ongoing narcotics investigation by the City-County Special Investigations Unit . . .

“It was totally unforeseen, totally unplanned and extremely regrettable,” St. John said. “We certainly did not want a juvenile, or anyone else for that matter, to get injured.”

Well, I’ll give him unplanned. Though I don’t think he meant it in the way I mean it. Sorry, but when you’re blindly shoving a flash grenade attached to a boomstick through a window, and you clearly have no idea who or what is in that room where you’re detonating, the possibility that an innocence person might get burned is not “totally unforeseen.” It’s only unforeseen when you’re so caught up in your drug war that you can’t be bothered to take the time to consider the possible collateral damage your actions may cause.

On Thursday, Fasching took her daughter back to the hospital to have her wounds treated.

She questioned why police would take such actions with children in the home and why it needed a SWAT team.

“A simple knock on the door and I would’ve let them in,” she said. “They said their intel told them there was a meth lab at our house. If they would’ve checked, they would’ve known there’s not.”

She and her two daughters and her husband were home at the time of the raid. She said her husband, who suffers from congenital heart disease and liver failure, told officers he would open the front door as the raid began and was opening it as they knocked it down.

When the grenade went off in the room, it left a large bowl-shaped dent in the wall and “blew the nails out of the drywall,” Fasching said.

St. John said investigators did plenty of homework on the residence before deciding to launch the raid but didn’t know children were inside.

“The information that we had did not have any juveniles in the house and did not have any juveniles in the room,” he said. “We generally do not introduce these disorienting devices when they’re present.”

I’ve probably read about more than a thousand of these raids by now. The cognitive dissonance still astounds me. No, Chief St. John, if you did not know there were two children in the home, if you did not know that you were dropping a flash grenade into a child’s bedroom, you pretty clearly did not do “plenty” of goddamned “homework.”

Investigators consider dozens of items such as residents’ past criminal convictions, other criminal history, mental illness and previous interactions with law enforcement.

Each item is assigned a point value and if the total exceeds a certain threshold, SWAT is requested. Then a commander approves or rejects the request.

In Tuesday’s raid, the points exceeded the threshold and investigators called in SWAT.

“Every bit of information and intelligence that we have comes together and we determine what kind of risk is there,” St. John said. “The warrant was based on some hard evidence and everything we knew at the time.”

Sounds awfully professional, doesn’t it? Except that they were looking for a meth lab, and pretty clearly didn’t find it. I mean, unless the Faschings recently had their house fumigated by Vamonos Pest Control, a meth lab isn’t something you can easily pick up and move.

“If we’re wrong or made a mistake, then we’re going to take care of it,” he said. “But if it determines we’re not, then we’ll go with that. When we do this, we want to ensure the safety of not only the officers, but the residents inside.”

The last four words are self-evidently complete and utter crap. And sure. Let’s go ahead and entrust the same department that just carried out this debacle after doing “plenty of homework” to investigate itself to determine if it did anything wrong. That sounds like a perfectly fair, impartial way to treat the Faschings.

Late Morning Links

Friday, October 12th, 2012

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.

Saturday Links

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

Morning Links

Friday, October 5th, 2012