Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hanrahan Nation

"If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown... there would be reason for grave concern." — Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006.

From the Cato Institute:
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of "no-knock" or "quick-knock" raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt -- it's difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night.

But even more disturbing are the number of times such "wrong door" raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map aims to refute that notion.
Radley Balko's Cato Institute paper on the rise of paramilitary police forces can be downloaded for free here.

But as Balko warned the kidz at Boing-Boing, "[I]t's already out of date. There have been a couple of dozen more botched SWAT raids since I left Cato for Reason magazine last November."

Parting question: How many police troops must storm the home of law abiding citizens, before the police become stormtroopers?


nursey boy said...

son of a hell! to say nothing of stormtroopers, thats alot of dead cops almost 20, b-4 they get the 10million man deportation underway they better refine technique.

So-Called Austin Mayor said...

Nursey Boy,

Great point.

As someone who fully respects the constitutional use of police power for the protection of our citizens, it is deeply disturbing that this smash-and-grab style of law enforcement unnecessarily puts law abiding citizens AND our law enforcement officers in harms way.

But as long as it makes somebody feel like a tough guy, I guess it's all worth it.



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