- Pre-boom photos of Dubai.
- Fox reporter files breathless report after ride-along with the Maricopa County SWAT team. This time, no puppies were burned alive.
- “…the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine asks the White House to issue an executive order banning staged photo opportunities that show the president, the first family, the vice president, and members of the president’s cabinet eating unhealthy foods…”
- Gary Johnson: Not a spoiler.
- Stephen Colbert vs. Miracle Whip.
- Asshole dog.
- But for video: Bronx edition.
- Last week, the ever-earnest Michael Gerson defended the way Obama has used drones, even though they’ve killed hundreds of innocent people. This week, Gerson argues that Obama is ruthless . . . because he’s mean to Republicans.
- The first sentence of this paper (PDF) ends with what might be the best misplaced metaphor I’ve ever seen. That, or there was much, much more going on in those mortgage derivatives than has so far been reported.
Category: Police Militarization
A few days ago, SWAT officers of the Fulton (Missouri) Police Department shot and killed a dog while serving a “narcotics” search warrant. The residents of the house asked if they could cage the dog. The officers denied the request, ordering that the dog to be chained to a tree. The dog got loose and was then shot eight times, the first six shots wounding the dog and the last two point-blank, shotgun blasts killing it. After finishing off the first dog, the officers turned their guns on caged puppies only stopping when confronted by concerned neighbors.
They found enough pot to charge the guy with a misdemeanor. There’s a local news account at the link.
By the way, Fulton, Missouri has all of about 13,000 people. But they do have their own SWAT team.
This video doesn’t show a dog killing, or a person killing, or a police beating. But in some ways, it’s more appalling than those sorts of videos. In it, you’ll see a “multi-agency” police task force arresting employees at a series of massage parlors in Houston. The businesses were apparently fronts for prostitution. The initial raid was conducted by a paramilitary police team, as you can see from the screen capture. In the video, the head of the task force steps out in full SWAT attire, including a balaclava, as he leads the women out of the building. He keeps the mask on throughout the video.
The women, all but one of whom were immigrants, are led out in handcuffs and leg shackles. One repeatedly struggles with and trips over her shackles on her way to the wagon. They all look terrified. The whole thing is stomach-turning. It’s an ugly, egregious, cock-waving display of power.
At worst, these these women provided a sexual service to willing customers in exchange for money. For that, a completely victimless crime, they get frog-marched in leg shackles on citywide TV.
But under that scenario the cops only look like bullies. There’s another possibility that makes them look thuggish and incompetent. In interviews with the local news, our brave and hooded vice warrior points out that these women could in fact be victims. That is, they may have been in the sex business involuntarily. We can’t know, he says, because they refuse to talk. He says they may fear that if they talk, their families back home will face repercussions.
Now let’s assume this is true. That means this multi-agency task force knew there was a possibility that these businesses were staffed with women who had been forced into prostitution. Aware of that possibility, they still scared the hell out of the women, cuffed and chained them, and—here’s the really galling part—tipped off the local news so it could all be put on TV. The humiliation is bad enough. But if there’s substance to the claim that these women fear retaliation against their families in their native countries, the potential repercussors now have video showing exactly which women were arrested. Back-slaps all around, guys.
And yes, there’s no question that the police tipped off the local news. Four (by my count) different TV stations don’t coincidentally show up at a run-of-the-mill strip mall just as a prostitution raid goes down. And while we’re passing out shame buttons, let’s slap a few on Houston’s local news teams, too. That’s you KHOU, Fox 26, ABC affiliate KTRK, and KPRC. Think about what you’re putting on the air. There’s no law that requires you to accommodate the police every time they want to flex their muscles on the evening news. In one of the videos linked above, the news team shoves a camera into a woman’s face as she’s stepping into the wagon. The reporter then shouts questions at the woman—this just after the reporter points out the possibility that the woman she’s humiliating and zooming in on may be a sex slave.
And about that balaclava. Yes, I realize the cop was probably protecting his identity. Take the hood off, and the next time he’s slabbed over a massage table, the 19-year-old Thai girl rubbing his back might recognize from TV, and decline to offer him extras. Thus ruining his investigation. He may also investigate other vice crimes, like narcotics, in which case revealing his identity could put him at risk. Understood. But here’s an easier way to protect your cover: Don’t call in the news cameras before you make your bust.
Look, I understand that cops enforce the laws, they don’t write them. And in this case it appears that (a) neighboring businesses were complaining, and (b) these massage parlors may have been engaged in sex trafficking. It’s hard to fault them for investigating (although in some of these massage parlor cases, the cops tend to investigate “to completion.”)
But how about some restraint? You’re “apprehending” 105-pound women here. Maybe you leave the ninja gear at home. Considering that you believe these women could be emotionally and/or physically abused, maybe you also do this bust quietly, bring along some social workers, and take the women away in vans. Maybe you have trained counselors talk to the women for a few hours before you give them the Whitey Bulger treatment. Then, once you have a better grasp on the nature of these businesses, you can hold yourself a press conference and bask in praise for keeping Houston safe from prostitutes.
You won’t get to go on TV dressed up in your riot gear that way. But you’ll at least know you’ve done your job with some professionalism—and some humanity.
TV station KOAT sent cameras along on a recent drug raid in Los Lunas, New Mexico. This raid was to find marijuana.
Every time I see an image like this, I’m reminded of a blog post from conservative writer Michael Ledeen a few years ago. Ledeen was using a series of photos from a recent drug bust in Iran to point out what a totalitarian state it is. The post is no longer available online, but I excerpted it at the time on the Reason blog.
Terrifying pictures, to be sure. For me, the most revealing thing about them is that the police feel obliged to wear masks while conducting a drug bust in the capital. tells you something about the relationship between the people and the state.
Indeed it does. Here is what the Los Lunas cops found:
Thanks to Mike Riggs for the tip.
So just as I was good and irritated with the Occupy crowd for co-opting the official holiday of a political ideology responsible for 100 million murders . . . the NYPD goes and makes me feel some sympathy for them.
In anticipation [of May Day protests] Monday, the FBI and NYPD raided the homes of protesters.
“There were a number of visits between 6:00 and 7:30 in the morning and at other points in the day that appeared to target people that primarily the NYPD, but in one instance the FBI, wanted to ask certain questions to,” Gideon Oliver, a spokesman for the National Lawyers Guild, which often represents Occupy protesters, told Buzzfeed. “Questions included things like ‘what are your May Day plans?’ ‘Do you know who the protest leaders are?’ ‘What do you know about the May Day protests?’ and such.”
Gawker reports that Zachary Dempster said 6 officers broke down the door of his Bushwick apartment at 6:15 AM, reportedly executing a warrant for the arrest of his roommate on a 6-year-old open container charge. Dempster believes, however, that cops used the raid as an excuse to question him about May Day.
And an hour later in Bed-Stuy, one of Dempster’s activist friends’ apartment–which he shares with 6 other Occupy protesters– was also paid a visit by 6 of New York’s finest. From Gawker:
The activist said police used arrest warrants for two men who no longer lived there as pretext for the raid. The officers ran the IDs of everyone who was in the apartment, then booked our source when they discovered he had an outstanding open container violation. Police never asked about Occupy Wall Street or May Day, but our source said the message was clear: We’re watching you.“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told Bloomberg.
Presumably that doesn’t include the unlawful activities of NYPD.
Think about what just happened, here. On a day strongly associated with the old Soviet bloc, armed government agents staged early morning raids on the homes of suspected political dissidents, detained them, then interrogated them about their plans and political affiliations. And of course this isn’t the first time this has happened. There were similar preemptive raids ahead of the 2008 RNC convention in Minneapolis. Almost none of the charges resulting from those raids stuck, and the city has since been handing out settlement checks like parade candy.
Bonus bit of May Day trivia: American Cold War presidents responded to the commie May Day celebrations by declaring May 1st “Loyalty Day.” Because nothing celebrates “freedom” like a presidential proclamation encouraging the citizenry to declare their loyalty to the government!
Bonus, bonus bit of May Day trivia: The old Catallarchy blog had a tradition of using May Day to commemorate the victims of communism. Here’s a particularly good entry from 2005.
- The hacktastic Center for American Progress sings Obama’s praises on the drug war.
- Massachusetts town wants to ban swearing. The article’s lede might be even dumber than yesterday’s World Net Daily lede.
- Headline of the day.
- The family of William Cooper, the 69-year-old Hampton, Virginia man killed in a drug raid earlier this year, has filed a lawsuit against the officers who conducted the raid.
- It’s time to panic again.
- Newark newsstand owner complains about permit process. City gives him more things to complain about.
- Strange places.
- “Limited government” Republicans strike again.
- Maine police agencies kicking up the asset forfeiture racket.
- Colombia, Missouri police union steps up effort to sack chief, mostly because he had the audacity to fire a cop caught on video breaking the back of an unarmed man.
- Prince George’s County, Maryland deploys a SWAT team for graffiti.
- Inspector General: No, TARP didn’t make a “profit.” And only 3 percent of the money has actually reached homeowners.
- Here is a photo of a chipmunk eating corn.
- Do you think Obama issued this order with a straight face?
- Surprising: 95% of passengers involved in plane crashes from 1983 to 2000 survived.
- NYC designates BP gas station a “landmark.”
- Michigan Supreme Court rules in favor of man who resisted police who were illegally entering his home.
- Remarkable quote from a federal prosecutor: ““[I]t’s not illegal to watch something on the television. It is illegal, however, to watch something in order to cultivate your desire, your ideology.”
- Miami-Dade’s Homeland security cops were monitoring, warning one another about Carlos Miller. I know if I lived in Miami, I’d sleep more soundly knowing authorities were working hard to protect me from photographers who occasionally take photos of Miami police.
- Cops raid poker game, shoot caterer.
- Ogden residents rally to for Matthew Stewart, call for an end to drug raids.
- Headline of the day.
- Lede of the day.
- Alan Dershowitz doesn’t think much of the Zimmerman indictment.
- Police chief, suspect, woman with suspect killed in a disastrous New Hampshire drug raid.
- Headline of the day.
- Some unfortunate comments to this Police1 article about militarization. Also amusing: The argument that we shouldn’t worry about the militarization of American police departments because the American military is increasingly taking on the role of police.
- If nothing else, you have to admire this guy’s efficiency.
- Another good illustration of how the U.S. tax code is really one big honking subsidy for tax accountants.
- The Wall Street Journal on how federal prosecutors can always fall back on a vague “lying” charge when they can’t find evidence of any other crime.
- Disgruntled Fox News employee will write an anonymous column for Gawker. I don’t know for whom I’d cheer in a Gawker-Fox feud. But it will be fun to watch. And one can always hope both sides sustain heavy damage.
Seems that Marylanders are getting a bit fed up with this problem.
A Frederick County Circuit Court jury in the civil case filed by a Taneytown couple whose dog was shot by a sheriff’s deputy found in favor of the plaintiffs Monday evening.
The six-person panel deliberated for more than 4 1/2 hours before returning a verdict to award Roger and Sandi Jenkins $620,000 in damages, according to plaintiff’s attorney Rebekah Lusk.
They found that–Deputy First Class Timothy Brooks violated the Jenkinses rights under the Maryland constitution when he shot their chocolate Labrador retriever, Brandi, on Jan. 9, 2010, while he and Deputy First Class Nathan Rector were at their Bullfrog Road home looking for their son, who was wanted on a civil warrant called a body attachment.
The jury also found that Brooks and Rector violated the couple’s rights by entering their home without permission.
The defense was . . . interesting.
[Defense attorneys] focused much of their attention on the actions of Roger Jenkins, who they said was largely responsible for the shooting of his dog. They said Jenkins could have told the deputies that his son wasn’t home, because he hadn’t lived there in several months since being kicked out, and that he could have taken more action to secure the dogs.
“He made certain decisions that led us to this sorry state,” Karp said of Roger Jenkins.
But Hansel said the Jenkinses knew their son sometimes sneaked back in the house, and that Roger Jenkins was being honest when he told them he wasn’t sure if his son was home.
Hansel said that by suggesting that Roger Jenkins’ actions led to the shooting of his dog, the defense was implying that citizens should fear for the safety of their dogs around law enforcement.
“What they’re suggesting is that Mr. Jenkins should have known that police officers will gun down your dog,” Hansel said.
Well on that question, the defense might have a point.
They did at least give the guy some money to repair the doors they tore down.
- New cops vs. cameras incidents: Arizona. Illinois. Massachusetts. New York.
- Barrington, Illinois man charged with disorderly conduct after offering to young girls a ride during a snowstorm.
- Ottawa man gets the tactical team treatment for pointing toy gun at an angry motorist.
- TSA vs. three-year-old in a wheelchair.
- NATO won’t investigate civilian casualties of its bombing of Libya.
- The Los Angeles bunker from where Hitler would rule his empire.
- Five ways Citizens United has made politics better.
- C-Span founder Brian Lamb retires. You could make a strong case that he did more for government transparency than any single person, ever.
- If elected, Rick Santorum promises to crack down on Internet porn. Which raises an important question: Why does Rick Santorum want more people to be raped?
- The progressive case for federalism.
- San Diego policy of enforcing curfew by rounding up, cuffing, sometimes arresting hundreds of kids doesn’t do much to prevent crime.
- Battle of the NCAA Tournament mascots.
- Another questionable shaken baby conviction.
- Oregon man shot by police after mistaking for prowlers a SWAT team that was preparing to raid his neighbor’s home.
- World’s ugliest dog passes away.
- U.S. asserts global jurisdiction to extradite U.K. citizen accused of criminal hyperlinking.
The SWAT team would like to talk to you about your waistline.
(Thanks to Mark Noble for the link.)
New Orleans police officials confirmed Thursday that the 20-year-old man who was fatally shot by a plain-clothed narcotics officer during a drug raid at a Gentilly house a day earlier was unarmed. New Orleans police officer Joshua Colclough, 28, fired a single shot Wednesday evening that killed Wendell Allen, 20. Police officials were guarded in their comments about the shooting Thursday, citing the ongoing investigation.
We have not been able to yet completely understand what exactly occurred,” Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said Thursday.
The shooting took place inside a red-brick, two-story home at 2651 Prentiss Ave. in Gentilly. Officers were executing a search warrant at the home following a days-old probe of marijuana dealing. Serpas said officers later found drug paraphernalia and 138 grams of marijuana — about four and a half ounces — inside the residence.
The actual suspect (not Allen) was already in custody before the raid.
Strong editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch about the show of police force at the Virginia state capital during last weekend’s abortion rights protest:
Saturday’s display of force is far from unique in the commonwealth. Homeland Security grants lavished on local police departments in the wake of 9/11 have only encouraged the tendency to blur the distinction between civilian and military operations. A number of Virginia localities now have armored assault vehicles such as the Lenco Bearcat — an 8-ton, quarter-million-dollar behemoth with half-inch steel plating. Among those localities is Warren County, a bucolic community of 40,000 people with an average of one homicide every three years — not exactly Hell’s Kitchen.
But the grants only accelerated an existing — and troubling — trend that started many years ago. Law enforcement exists to protect the rights of the citizens; maintaining order is a means to that end, not the end in itself. Police officers decked out like combat patrols in Fallujah send a far different, far more threatening message: that they have come not to protect and to serve, but to command and to conquer. Saturday’s events in the capital of Virginia stain a state with a reputation as the cradle of democracy.
The editorial begins with a quote from a publication regular readers might recognize.
- Last week, the Keene, New Hampshire city council voted 9-4 in favor of purchasing the Lenco, Bearcat.
- 11-year-old handcuffed, taken to a holding facility for having a “bad attitude.”
- U.S. government says it can seize any .com., .net, or .org domain, no matter where the company that owns it is incorporated.
- Good bit of contrarianism from Michael Kinsley: The case against the case against Rush Limbaugh.
- Housing for hipsters.
- San Francisco police haven’t been conducting accuracy tests on breath test devices used in DUI cases. They’re supposed to conduct them every 10 days. They haven’t conducted any in six years.
- Michigan State will offer a course on surviving a zombie apocalypse.
Okay, it was another Bearcat, not a tank. But still snicker-worthy.
County officials and the maker of that drone confirmed on Friday that a recent police-only photo mission went terribly wrong.
As the sheriff’s SWAT team suited up with lots of firepower and their armored vehicle known as the “Bearcat,” a prototype drone from Vanguard Defense Industries took off for pictures of all the police action. It was basically a photo opportunity, according to those in attendance.
Vanguard CEO Michael Buscher said his company’s prototype drone was flying about 18-feet off the ground when it lost contact with the controller’s console on the ground. It’s designed to go into an auto shutdown mode, according to Buscher, but when it was coming down the drone crashed into the SWAT team’s armored vehicle.
It’s the exact scenario that was mentioned as a major concern when the Government Accountability Office studied the growing use of police drones in 2008.
Ever since Houston Police were exposed in November 2007 on a secret test of drones for law enforcement, dozens of police agencies have applied for drones to be used on patrols throughout the country.
- New Orleans will forgive $500K in traffic tickets racked up by city employees because no one made it clear to them that they weren’t allowed to break the law.
- Today’s front page story in dog newspapers across the country.
- Defense attorney Mark Bennett is running for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Awesome. We need more defense attorneys on appellate courts. Or, you know, to at least start with the first one.
- Twenty-seven reasons why Putin “won” the Russian election.
- When innocence isn’t enough.
- Indiana legislature overwhelmingly approves bill to overturn the state supreme court ruling barring residents from using force against police officers who illegally enter their their homes.
- Thank goodness we’re finally securing the border from the menace of high school valedictorians.
- Two more aggressive police raids over suspected pot offenders: Here and here.
- Orlando police make use of sweet gadgets seized as evidence from a robbery.
- One of the more amusing press releases related to tax policy that you’re likely to see.
- How one bureaucrat almost succeeded in banning car radios.
- How to build a speech jamming gun.
- This looks to be a very cool blog of archival New York Times photos.
- Woman ticketed for resting her injured leg on the seat of a non-operational subway train.
- More taxi protectionist nonsense.
Good reporting by Lucy Steigerwald on an outrageous 13-man SWAT raid, with flashbangs, on a home suspected of illegally growing medical marijuana. It’s of course legal to grow the stuff in Colorado if you have a patient card and stay under the state limit. The residents appear to have received the full brunt force of the SWAT team because they dared to exercise their constitutional rights.
Further details from KRDO reveal that when the police came to the home previously (at around 10 p.m. on Christmas 2011), Ball and Glandorf showed their medical marijuana cards, but refused to let officers in because they didn’t have a warrant. This, says Colorado Springs police spokesperson Barbara Miller, is kind of dubious:
“If you have nothing to hide, most people would open the door and say, ‘Yes, please come in and and let’s dispel any information you have because it’s false.”
Can we please send every cop who utters the “if you have nothing to hide . . . ” line to Fourth Amendment reeducation camp?
Miller, however, told Reason that she understood that the reaction to a so-called “knock and talk” on Christmas was understandable, and she might have done the same thing. And also that she “really appreciate[s] everybody’s constitution rights” and “everybody should use them.” However . . .
Whenever a police spokesperson talks about respecting constitutional rights, you can expect a however isn’t far behind.
. . . Miller said officers smelled a very strong presence of marijuana in the home, and continued their investigation. Miller said police found out that someone living in the house had a prior felony weapons charge, and also noted that the electric bill was very high for the property.”That’s really important when you’re talking narcotics because that’s a tell-tale sign that they’re doing a grow there.”
Tell-tale. And in this case, false.
And after that, no arrests were made or charges were filed, because the patients were not growing more than Colorado state law permitted after all. Supposedly a handgun was found, but Glandorf denies this.
Two dogs were apparently injured by the flashbangs. The police deny this. Because, as we all know, flashbangs are perfectly safe. I mean, except when they aren’t.
- Three very good posts from Jacob Sullum illustrating the absurdity of hate crimes laws: one, two, and three.
- Coming to California: A new law inspired by a dead person.
- The U.S. Secretary of Transportation enjoys driving around to find drivers talking on their cell phones, then honking his horn at them.
- Federal court bars Mississippi from putting children in solitary confinement.
- U.K. police raid the wrong house after stolen iPhone pings to the wrong address: “Nottingham Police refused to reimburse Kerr for the repairs to his door — because officers ‘reasonably believed’ an offender was in the house.”
- The state of Utah has stopped the family of Matthew Stewart from raising funds for his defense. They say the family must first get a permit.
- Two years after he was stopped and illegally searched, Raleigh man just wants an apology. He hasn’t received one.
- So this is fairly terrifying. But remember — debt doesn’t matter!
- More coverage of Keene vs. the Bearcat from the local college paper.
- Rutherford County, Tennessee hires anti-Islam group to “train” deputies at a seminar run in an vocally anti-Muslim church. What could possibly go wrong? More here.
- Toronto head of DUI enforcement (allegedly) comes to work drunk.
- Ignorance of the law is no defense. Unless you’re in law enforcement.