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Invading Cops Can Make Mistakes, You Can't:

This observation by Radley Balko on no-knock raids (via Instapundit) is worth repeating.

If the police storm in and you — not being a drug dealer and consequently having no reason to think the police might break into your home — mistake them for criminal intruders and meet them with a gun, you are at fault. I guess your crime is living in an area where drug dealers could use your porch while you aren't home, or being a too trusting, frail, old woman. Sorry about your luck.

On the other hand, if the police break into your home and they mistake the blue cup, TV remote, the t-shirt you're holding to cover your genitals because they broke in while you were sleeping naked, or the glint off your wristwatch for a gun — and subsequently shoot you (all of these scenarios have actually happened), well, then no one is to blame. Because, you see, SWAT raids are inherently dangerous and volatile, and it's perfectly understandable how police might mistake an innocent person holding a t-shirt for a violent drug dealer with gun.

Do you see the double standard, here? If the warrant is legit, they are allowed to make mistakes. You aren't.

This discrepancy grows all the more absurd when you consider that they have extensive training, you don't. They have also spent hours preparing for the raid. You were startled from your sleep, and have just seconds to make a life-or-death decision. To top it all off, many times they've just deployed a flashbang grenade that is designed to confuse and disorient you.

What's the solution? It isn't to encourage people to start shooting raiding cops to kill. That kind of talk is foolish, and needs to stop. But it isn't to encourage to people to refrain from defending their homes, either. Both of those suggestions will lead to more people dying — both police and citizens.

The solution is actually pretty simple: Stop invading people's homes for nonviolent offenses.

UPDATE: In response to Orin's post above, let me make two points. First, I think it is a reasonable claim that, as a practical matter, the legal system is more lenient on police officers who overstep their bounds in these sorts of raids than it is on those who respond with force to no-knock raids out of a fear for their lives. Just because the law on the books is even-handed does not mean it will be applied in an even-handed fashion. If there is empirical data suggesting Radley Balko's characterization of how the law of self-defense and civil liability for police officers is applied in these sorts of circumstances, I would be quite interested in seeing it.

Second, when Balko advocates that police "stop invading people's homes for nonviolent offenses," I believe he is referring to the sort of no-knock, military-style raids about he so often writes. As I understand Balko's recommendation, these are the sorts of "invasions" to which he objects, and he is not recommending that police lose all ability to execute warrants and search peoples homes for evidence of non-violent crimes. Balko's recommendation may still, on the margin, make it more difficult for the police to collect evidence of certain crimes. The question is then whether this is worth the reduced likelihood of police and civilian casualties caused by excessive reliance on military tactics in law enforcement. From what I have read to date, I think it is, but I would certainly be interested in arguments to the contrary.

Radley Balko has more here.

whit:
no

a better solution is to not use paramilitary swat/military like tactics for your garden variety drug dealer, etc.

it's absurd. and i say that as somebody who has been involved in tons of warrants, etc. - balaklava, raid vest, and all that.

like EVERYTHING else, the pendulum swings too far. SWAT was a concept, basically invented by LAPD, that has saved countless cop and civilian lives. better equipped and trained specialty officers for specialty situations is safer, in general, for many types of extreme situations than not.

absolutely true.

however... when your a hammer, everything looks like a nail...

SWAT teams, like everybody else in government, want to justify their existence, expand their influence, etc. departments with fulltime SWAT teams need to justify their fulltime nature, and dept's with part-time SWAT guys have members that want to be fulltime. so, they convince (*clueless) cop administrators (of course most cop administrators are bureaucrats who have little street experience) that SWAT team raids for the 18 yr old kid selling $20 bags of MJ is the best way to execute a warrant.

also, my state (WA) has a much stronger constitutional right to self defense for citizens than many other states, and i wouldn't be surprised if some of these cases where people shot at invading cops would have resulted in a not guilty verdict here.

the operative lesson: live in a state that respects right to carry, and self defense
11.25.2006 10:34am
Hans Bader (mail):
It is outrageous how law-abiding people are shot by SWAT teams that erroneously believe they are using drugs.

It's odd how many of the very same politically-correct judges who overturn the convictions of violent criminals based on technicalities like failure to give Miranda warnings allow innocent people to be shot as collateral damage in the War on Drugs.

Why is there more support for the most extreme measures in the War on Drugs than for putting violent criminals in prison where they belong?

(Incidentally, I have never used or possessed any illegal drug).
11.25.2006 10:51am
Cornellian (mail):
It's odd how many of the very same politically-correct judges who overturn the convictions of violent criminals based on technicalities like failure to give Miranda warnings allow innocent people to be shot as collateral damage in the War on Drugs.

Why is there more support for the most extreme measures in the War on Drugs than for putting violent criminals in prison where they belong?


It's not "politically-correct judges" who are calling for higher sentences for non-violent drug offenders or paramilitary tactics for executing search warrents on them.
11.25.2006 11:30am
Andy Freeman (mail):
> basically invented by LAPD, that has saved countless cop and civilian lives.

While we may not know the exact number, we can estimate the number of police lives.

How? We can compare the number of police killed in the days before swat with the number killed after swat.
11.25.2006 11:33am
cirby (mail):
What strikes me about many of the no-knock shootings (not just the ones mentioned at the above site) is how many of the police officers don't know squat about reasonable tactical weapons handling or entry techniques. They aren't doing any pre-strike surveillance or pre-entry examination of the buildings. How can they commit to a tactical entry when they don't know who's in the building, the layout of the building, or how many (if any) weapons are inside?

It's astounding that a "SWAT" team can still be considered for use when the members of that team are so bad at their jobs. Wrapping a gung-ho moron in a flak vest and slapping a bulletproof helmet on him doesn't make him qualified to do hot tactical entries.

Is seems that this could lead to a big hole in the "qualified immunity" defense, since the officers are obviously working outside of their actual job skills.
11.25.2006 11:34am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that in addition to Balko's suggestion, cirby has hit on the other part of the solution here - increased tort exposure through reduced immunity.

Let me also suggest that this would solve cirby's problem of limited pre-strike surveillance or pre-entry examination. They often don't do it, because they don't have to do it. Given the amount of extra work involved, plus the fact that such surveilance might possibly give it away, there is little incentive to do the surveilance, and some not to. But increasing tort exposure for mistakes would go a long way towards reversing this dynamic. Under normal tort theory, absent the level of immunity given police and jurisdictions in this matter right now, the failure to do such surveilance would probably go to the level of care required (and often missing).

Many of you probably remember the Cato paper on this earlier this year (or was it last year?) It was fairly evident from that paper a lot of the problems in this area. I was struck, for example, by the low level of scrutiny that many of these judges put into this, with them approving warrants based on anonymous (and often very unreliable) snitches.
11.25.2006 11:45am
whit:
"How? We can compare the number of police killed in the days before swat with the number killed after swat."

while of course also having to take into account the change in overall violent crime, since violence in society (which is closely related to police targeted violence) doesn't remain in stasis.

iirc, the most violent decade in terms of cops murdered was in the 70's. however, one also has to factor in for improved gear (ballistic vests) etc.

cops can be shot at far more often and still die in shootings much less often due to vests. interestingly, most fatal police shootings now are under the arm (where there is usually a gap in vest coverage), lower abdomen (below the vest), the occasional femoral shot and the head shot.

prior to vests, most of the fatal shots were torso shots, but now since the vast majority of officers wear vest, that is no longer the case.
11.25.2006 11:50am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
The problem with the solution the post mentions is that we need some incentive/enforcement to make it work.

Police departments apparently like using SWAT style tactics. Whether it is because it makes them feel safer, ensures the defendants won't flush the evidence, or just lets them act out some action movie fantasy they are going to keep using them so long as the incentives don't change.

Moreover, you can't just lay down a blanket law saying that no SWAT style entries for non-violent crimes. Even if the offense is only non-violent if the police are invading a heavily armed anti-government militia's headquarters it might very well make sense to use a SWAT style raid. Whether or not to use a no-knock entry should depend on the chances the police are going to encounter deliberate armed resistance not the underlying crime.

I would support the following system. Require a special sort of warrant to do a SWAT style no-knock entry. Police officers making a no-knock entry without such a warrant lose any qualified immunity and any evidence seized is suppressed. Then set a high bar to get such a warrant, requiring evidence that the police would likely be met with violent resistance and not merely the presence of a gun in the house or an individual with a past violent conviction.
11.25.2006 11:52am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
logicnazi

Maybe it is implicit in your suggestion, but my understanding is that a, possibly vast, majority of these entries are for non-violent drug arrests, and the justification is that the alleged perps might flush the drugs down the toilet if given the chance. Given the tradeoff between the risks involved versus the problematic gain, I think that most of these should be eliminated (meth labs are a different story - but in most cases it would be impossible to get rid of the evidence there).
11.25.2006 12:03pm
Strom Thurmond (mail):
SWATs all about looking cool, the jump boots, Wehrmacht helmets, german submachine guns, when theres a threat that could shoot back (Waco, Columbine) theyre not so eager.
11.25.2006 12:05pm
Visitor Again:
Based on 40 years experience, I have nothing but contempt for the LAPD and its SWAT squad. Protect and serve, my ass. They're terrorists, plain and simple. I've seen what they've done over and over again. Half of them are psychologically unfit for service; the other half don't give a shit. Most fearsome are the adrenalin-driven goons who live for combat.

And they are rude to normal citizens. Then they wonder why they lose every police bond measure. I always vote against them. I've never seen the police help anyone.

Of course they're entitled to use deadly force whenever in fear of danger to life or limb. That usually means they might get their pinky finger bruised.

I workd and live in the ghetto, though I am white. I despise the LAPD pigs. They act like pigs to everyone. All I have to do is step outside my door any day, any time and within five minutes I will witness police harrassment or brutality. Fuck them.
11.25.2006 12:06pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail) (www):
whit,taking into account the change in overall violent crime would be harder than it seems. you wouldn't exclude the change that is itself attributable to SWAT, like removal of violent recidivists and increased deterrence.
11.25.2006 12:08pm
Visitor Again:
And racist? You've all heard of blacks being stopped in Beverly Hills. Well when I, a white, drive around my neighborhood at night, I'm stopped, asked where I'm going, told I shouldn't be there because to blacks I'm just another white guy to strike out at. The police in this area do their best to enforce segregation. Numerous times I have been stopped, not for an infraction, but just to ask what I'm doing, whether I'm there to buy drugs, find a prostitute or what have you. As if a white male can have no business in an area heavily populated by blacks than the illegitimate, if you can call prostitution and drug use that. Disgusting.
11.25.2006 12:21pm
whit:
sure mike.

it's just, as we both know, hard to isolate one factor in any sort of analysis in this complex world we live in.

SWAT would be a factor, but so would overall violent crime rates, ballistic vests, etc.
11.25.2006 12:22pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
Having police "stop invading people's homes for nonviolent offenses" would not solve the problem; it would merely reduce it. Having police completely stop invading people's homes would completely solve the problem. But some solutions cause new problems, and the tradeoffs have to be taken seriously. For people who are "against the war on drugs", of course, there are no tradeoffs so they don't have to think about these issues at all.

Here's something else to think about: we need a system whereby people can know if it really is the police at their door.
11.25.2006 12:49pm
TJIT (mail):
If an engineer, architect, physician, car driver, or dog owner showed the lack of diligence and irresponsibility that is seen on many of these raids they would either be sued into bankruptcy and / or criminally prosecuted. It is a sad fact that dog owners are held to higher standards then the police officers on these raids are.

It would be good for the police to have to live under the same rules the rest of society does.
11.25.2006 1:05pm
whit:
it's simply a matter of using intelligent tactics

i have participated in dozens of warrants, from no-knock dynamic entry warrants for murder suspects all the way down the line.

on drug warrants, we would have the patrol car be the last in line. once we arrived at the door, at least one patrol car activates the emergency lights, etc. as we knock on the door and announce "police"

the fact that the house is now awash in emergency blue/red lights, and the marked cruisers sitting outside the house with lights a-flashin' makes it pretty clear it is the po-po at your door.

this "no invasion of homes for nonviolent offenses" is an absurd overreacting. like i said, pendulum swings too far both ways.

the point is that cops should use logical, well researched tactics, and that the nature of the warrant entry should be related to the underlying offense and propensity of the subjects for violence, etc.

but again, the primary problem is that police administrators are usually clueless as to most street and high risk ops, since most are paper pushing cop-o-crats who wouldn't know the first thing about real policework. so, they make bad decisions about SWAT
11.25.2006 1:08pm
Tom952 (mail):
The SWAT tactic is completely out of control, having morphed into a 21st century Gestapo run by idiots. Too many departments think they lack balls if they don't have the military garb and machine guns with a few notches on the handles.

What an outrageous, irremedial event it would be to have those thugs come crashing into you home and kill or maim your family, and them see no one punished.
11.25.2006 1:10pm
Tom952 (mail):
"and then see..."
11.25.2006 1:12pm
Strom Thurmond (mail):
Didnt we fight a world war not to be bullied by jackbooted thugs with german helmets and machineguns?
11.25.2006 1:44pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Regarding "qualified immunity" as a subset of "sovereign immunity:" Isn't the real weakness of 'sovereign immunity' as an argument the fact that it's not the government which is sovereign but the people? For the sovereign's employees to refuse to answer to the sovereign is really an act of rebellion. A pretty successful one, too.
11.25.2006 1:55pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
I have about 700-800 hours of experience litigating police brutality and excessive force cases as plaintiff's counsel in private practice, and evaluating them as a trial court research attorney, mostly the former. My county, Stanislaus in California, had a tragedy occur during a no-knock raid when a police officer accidently killed a young boy in bed with the accidental discharge of a shotgun.

IMO the standard which should be used for wrongful death and injury actions by persons other than those identified in the warrant in no-knock raids should be strict liability. Ditto for even the person identified in the warrant if the items searched for are not found.

No-knock searches create an inherent major risk of harm to innocent persons such that compensation for injury should be mandated. I.e., immunity would be irrelevant. Pay immediately. Plus a reasonable attorney's fee.
11.25.2006 2:19pm
whit:
jeez. apparently, this thread (talk about thread drift) has just become an excuse for bigoted police bashing. i wonder how many people ACTUALLY know the first thing about the ROE for their local SWAT team, or have bothered to look into it at all, before opining. most opinions are formed from the outlier events. iow, tens of thousands of SWAT warrant executions without a hitch don't matter. the one out of the many thousands that results in the dead granny are the 'rule' not the exception.

oh wait... research first, THEN form opinion? heaven forbid

like i said, i have lots of personal experience with SWAT team, dept. politics, uneducated police bureaucrats making SWAT decision, etc.
11.25.2006 2:20pm
TheNewGuy (mail):
Only on the internet can so many opine so vociferously, and know so little about a subject.

I don't know what kind of teams you're talking about, but I've never seen a professional team act anything like what you alarmists seem to fear so viscerally. It's simply not true that Adolph and Wilhelm the racist cops (TM) get mad after losing money at their weekly Nazi/KKK poker game, and decide to do a no-knock raid to blow off steam.

A warrant has to be issued by a judge, and there already is a higher standard for no-knock warrants. No-knock raids must be specifically approved based on some kind of exigent circumstances... and one joint in the house does NOT qualify. It's a shame so many of you are so willing to buy into the anti-drug-war propaganda image of jack-booted govt. thugs shooting down peaceful hippies.

Also, professional teams (like LAPD's D-platoon, and LASD SWAT) usually have a threat matrix, where points are assigned based on intel gathered before the warrant: is the location fortified? Any counter-surveilance? Any occupants with military training? Known weapons? Violent criminal history? Clandestine lab at the location? Certain things (like a clan-lab) will automatically generate a SWAT call-out in some jurisdictions.

IF a location scores high enough, a no-knock warrant is requested from a judge, and it may or may not be approved. Implying that warrants for non-violent minor drug offenses are routinely done no-knock with no oversight is simply a lie.

But worse than the lie is that many of you are willing to believe it.
11.25.2006 2:25pm
whit:
tom, if u are really so experienced litigating these kinds of cases, you should realize that these are not "accidental shootings", they are "unintentional shootings"

that is one of the most basic elements of firearms training and litigation.

police do not have "accidental shootings". the term is "unintentional shootings"

imo, no-knock warrants are extremely problematic, but so are NOT using no-knock warrants in many extreme cases.

there is a difficult line

on the subject of tragdies - 3 out of the 10 people in my unit were ALL shot in the same incident by one suspect. so, let's not forget there are risks on all sides.

and yes, they were wearing raid gear and were fully identified. they were targeted by a disgruntled person while serving a warrant. imagine that?
11.25.2006 2:26pm
whit:
the newguy. great post.

fwiw, i have participated in dozens of warrant entries. only one that i recall was a no-knock. and yes, they are VERY hard to get, and have to be justified with extensive research and facts.

you are also right about the intelligence of some of these people. some of the SWAT guys i know are ex-special forces and none of them are dumb. one was a former seal team commander, etc.
11.25.2006 2:30pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
whit,

My day job entails, among other things, evaluating every civil police excessive force case filed in my county. I am familiar with the ROE here.

In private practice I uncovered a really serious situation in a small town PD in another county, had serving and retired officers provide me information in confidence about it, and forwarded everything to the California AG who came in with their own investigation and cleaned house.

And, as appointed defense counsel while in private practice (I couldn't get out of the courtroom fast enough when the judge started appointing private conflict counsel in a major narcotics case), I secured arrest arrest warrants for every narcotics officer in the County - it even made the papers as the officers wrote "Free the Modesto Ten!" on the blackboard before the warrant hearing.

So I am thoroughly qualified in the subject at hand.
11.25.2006 2:34pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Didnt we fight a world war not to be bullied by jackbooted thugs with german helmets and machineguns?

Yeah. Evidently, we lost.

(Critics: Balko has been studying this stuff for years, &is understandably preoccupied with the small minority of cases where really bad things happen. I think he's got a good argument that the few bad things are bad enough to change the system; but please, don't bore us with "he says all cops are bad" or "that stuff hardly ever happens.")
11.25.2006 2:36pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
whit,

What part of "No-knock searches create an inherent major risk of harm to innocent persons" don't you understand?
11.25.2006 2:45pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Gee wasn't just the other day you guys were falling all over each other to defend the cops' right to tase a UCLA student repeatedly for nothing more than being an uncooperative smartass. Now the cops are a bunch of jackbooted thugs trampling on the peoples' rights.

I'm so confused.
11.25.2006 2:52pm
Cornellian (mail):
And racist? You've all heard of blacks being stopped in Beverly Hills.

There's a funny line in "Crash" where two black guys are talking about how certain neighborhoods are white and black guys will get harassed by police in those areas. One such area they mentioned was Santa Monica and the line was something like "the police will stop a brother in Santa Monica quicker than you can say 'decaf latte'."
11.25.2006 3:13pm
TheNewGuy (mail):
Tom,

Not to butt into your conversation with whit, but what part of "no-knock warrants are already subjected to a higher standard of proof and hard-as-hell to get" didn't you understand?

I don't have to explain this to you... you're a lawyer, and you damned well know how it works.

If your position is some kind of arch-libertarian view that no-knocks should exist at all, then fine... but I disagree. You may convince some of the neo-hippie anarchist types that no-knocks aren't necessary, and only represent the overreach of a fascist jack-booted federal government, but I did 6+ years on tactical teams, and I know better.

We need that capability and the element of surprise to take down certain kinds of locations. I'm not even going to attempt a warrant on the local outlaw biker clubhouse, or some ex-SF militia guy's home, if I can't stack the odds in favor of my team. The advantage already lies with the defender, and there are way more bad guys than cops... they'll win a war of attrition every time.

The military taught me that if you're in an even fight, you've done something wrong along the way. Based on what I've seen pulled out of drug houses (up to and including belt-fed machine guns), we'd have been dead men if we'd knock-and-announced even half of them.
.
11.25.2006 3:23pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Bruce,

Yes, that was implicit in my suggestion. It seems obvious to me that the police ought not to be able to impose a serious risk of death on an individual pressumed to be innocent in order to make sure they can't flush some evidence. I don't think the police ought to be executing searches on pure users ever. I mean if we don't let the police violate people's privacy (confessions, doctor-client, attorney-client privleges) to get evidence how can it make sense to allow them to impose a significant risk of death to make sure some evidence isn't flushed. If the police think that avoiding the risk of flushed drugs is worth risking a man's life they can damn well risk their own. If the police are really that concerned about getting evidence just watch the house and wait till no one is there.

The consideration of whether to execute a SWAT style raid should only be based on considerations on police safety. Since this requires an enforcement mechanism I support requiring a special warrant for this sort of raid which would need to be supported by good reason to believe that this raid would pose a significant risk to police if conducted in a normal fashion, e.g., past violent behavior by the defendant, willingness to attack the police, gang membership etc..
11.25.2006 3:33pm
whit:
logicnazi, yer post is so riddled with errors and false assumptions. well...

ok here goes.

" It seems obvious to me that the police ought not to be able to impose a serious risk of death on an individual pressumed to be innocent in order to make sure they can't flush some evidence."

that is NOT a justification for no-knock warrants. get real. i've written dozens of these things, and that is not a justification for a no-knock warrant. so, it IS obvious. it's also a non-issue

" I don't think the police ought to be executing searches on pure users ever"

heck, i don't think "pure users" should even be ARRESTED, since i am pretty much against the drug war on the whole. (ironic for a guy who has done tons of narco search warrants huh?)

but GIVEN that drug use is illegal, a search is justifiable for drugs, just as it is justifiable for fraud, or whatever.

i know the VAST majority of home-based search warrants are not done for mere use, but are done for manufacture, sales, etc.

"Since this requires an enforcement mechanism I support requiring a special warrant for this sort of raid which would need to be supported by good reason to believe that this raid would pose a significant risk to police if conducted in a normal fashion, e.g., past violent behavior by the defendant, willingness to attack the police, gang membership etc.."

that's groovy, but no-knock warrants (at least in my jurisdiction) ALREADY require this kind of justification.
11.25.2006 3:43pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
whit,

Could you explain how you know this bit about the no-knock raid requiring higher evidence. There are certainly incidents of no-knock raids executed on individuals who don't seem particularly violent.

Is this extra evidence requirement a genuine judicial requirement or a matter of police internal procedure? Does it vary from place to place?

Is this extra evidence of danger in executing a normal warrant or just extra evidence that there really was a crime?

Is danger to the police the only consideration or can these be justified on the risk of lost evidence?

Must the danger be established on an individualized basis or is simple proof that the individual owns a gun sufficent?

--

I mean from what you say it sounds like the system is set up in a reasonable fashion. However, I know there have been warrants executed in a SWAT style fashion on families with kids without any reason to suspect violence.

While this may not technically count as a no-knock raid consider the arrest of Tommy Chong for distributing paraphernalia. This was clearly an instance of using man heavily armed men complete with flack jackets and automatic weapons to bust into a house in the middle of the night to arrest an obviously non-dangerous individual in a house with his wife and kids.

The claim that SWAT style tactics are only used when you have significant evidence of danger is pretty obviously false. So what exactly are you claiming and what is your evidence?
11.25.2006 3:44pm
whit:
clarification: i have written dozens of SEARCH warrants, not no-knock warrants. as i said, no-knockers are relatively rare
11.25.2006 3:45pm
cirby (mail):

i wonder how many people ACTUALLY know the first thing about the ROE for their local SWAT team, or have bothered to look into it at all, before opining.


The problem isn't so much the typed-down Rules of Engagement, as the actual, practical results created by officers who may or may not actually be following them.

I've spent enough time with police officers (both regular beat cops and SWAT guys) to know that their actual level of firearms training is, at best, not that impressive. When you're sitting around with a couple of SWAT doorknockers who mostly talk about the ways they covered their asses on badly-run raids, you tend to lose a lot of respect for the whole idea of a no-knock warrant.

You also have to address the whole idea that the no-knock raid itself probably causes a lot of the shooting associated with SWAT assaults. While some folks in this thread tell us that very few of these situations end up with bad shoots by the cops, you have to wonder if that's particularly true, since even the obviously inept ones mentioned in Balko's articles end up with the victims dead and the cops walking around free, with little or no impact on their careers.
11.25.2006 3:51pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
whit,


I'm willing to agree that given that drug use is illegal it may be justifiable to search houses to find dealers and cooks. However, I just don't see how it is a worthwhile use of police resources to do so for pure users. I mean in many states owning a radar detector is illegal but I doubt you would think it reasonable to go executing search warrants to look for simple possession of a radar detector.

I believe you about your jurisidiction and they are probably doing it right. However, I am doubtful this is true universally (do you know if it was required by law).

Also even a knock raid that is conducted in the middle of the night with a scream of police right before busting in with a heavily armed SWAT team isn't much better. I'm not sure if the Tommy Chong example I gave above was no-knock or not but this sort of assault style raid surely greatly increases the likelihood of an accidental death for BOTH police and suspects and ought to need the same kind of justification.
11.25.2006 3:51pm
whit:
"Could you explain how you know this bit about the no-knock raid requiring higher evidence. There are certainly incidents of no-knock raids executed on individuals who don't seem particularly violent"

I know it from extensive training and experience, especially having written dozens of warrants. This is a classic example of your ridiculous assumptions without evidence: "don't seem particularly violent"

Did you run a NCIC/III check on this person? How do you KNOW whether or not they were violent? I never did a warrant on anybody without a full background packet, and those were exactly the kind of factors we look at. No-Knock warrants in all 3 jurisdictions I have used them in (3 different states) require(D) EXTENSIVE documentation and justification.

Things are rarely as they "seem" based on some short little media account.

"Is this extra evidence requirement a genuine judicial requirement or a matter of police internal procedure? Does it vary from place to place? "

both and yes. and prosecutor's office as well

the fact that somebody owns a gun would be nowhere NEAR enough to justify a no-knock warrant. heck, in some rural areas, it seems nearly everyone owns a gun (and of course that's a good thing but i digress...)

"I mean from what you say it sounds like the system is set up in a reasonable fashion. However, I know there have been warrants executed in a SWAT style fashion on families with kids without any reason to suspect violence. "

really? how do u KNOW this? did you read the background packet? i suggest not.

you ASSUMED it

the tommy chong case was ridiculous, and i'm the first to admit that. however, it was NOT a no-knock warrant was it?

nobody is a "non-dangerous" individual. the point is that the force must be reasonably suited to the task. Do you think it unreasonable to "bust in in the middle of the night" with "flak jackets?"

maybe they should ahve worn polo shirts and knickers?

for pete's sake

and of course you know these were AUTOMATIC weapons. how do u know this? does every AR-15 LOOK "AUTOMATIC" TO YOU because it;s an evul assault rifle (tm)

jeeeez
11.25.2006 5:12pm
whit:
"I've spent enough time with police officers (both regular beat cops and SWAT guys) to know that their actual level of firearms training is, at best, not that impressive. When you're sitting around with a couple of SWAT doorknockers who mostly talk about the ways they covered their asses on badly-run raids, you tend to lose a lot of respect for the whole idea of a no-knock warrant"

im a police firearms instructor. you get no argument from me. it's a joke in many ways
11.25.2006 5:14pm
whit:
"I'm willing to agree that given that drug use is illegal it may be justifiable to search houses to find dealers and cooks. However, I just don't see how it is a worthwhile use of police resources to do so for pure users."

statistically speaking, mostg drug units, and most warrants are NOT executed for mere users.

that's just a fact.
11.25.2006 5:17pm
ed (mail) (www):
Hmmmm.

I'm not a lawyer.

1. I know quite a few police officers and most of them are barely competent in firearms use. But they do think very highly of themselves in firearms handling simply by virtue of being a police officer.

Which begs the question of whether or not the "swat" individuals really deserve the term or are simply jumped up patrol officers. People are making a significantly unsupported assumption that because someone is designated as "swat" they are deserving of such consideration, but that is not provenly so.

2. I live in NJ and here there have been a multitude of crimes committed by police officers. Ranging from planting little bags of cocaine on stopped motorists by the most highly decorated NJ state trooper to the local police officer who had a secret multi-year crime career as a bank robber.

So, were I corrupt cop, a no-knock raid with fatal consequences is a perfect way to get rid of troublesome people since there isn't any other circumstance where an officer is effectively immune to prosecution.

3. I frankly don't see a reason for no-knock raids that don't involve proveably violent offenders. If a raid results in dealers flushing all of the evidence, then so what? The drug dealer just flushed all of this product. The person now not only doesn't have any product remaining, but is still in debt for the product just flushed.

Am I alone in seeing this as an opportunity for playing headgames with drug dealers?

4. What I find curious about all this is the fact that this slams right up against the right to self-defense. There is also the question of people who are pretending to be police officers using this technique to conduct home invasions.

There was very recently, within the last couple weeks, an incident here in the NYC metro area where home invaders wore jackets and vests with "POLICE" on them and used the supposed police identity to invade homes and rob people at will.

5. How many of these no-knock raids are based on information gained from professional confidential informants? And how many of those turn out to be innocent people wrongly fingered by the CI hoping to use that as a get-out-of-jail-free pass?

Anybody here remember the Bulger case in Boston?

Anybody here want to continue protesting that deliberate police abuses aren't possible?
11.25.2006 5:37pm
whit:
"Anybody here want to continue protesting that deliberate police abuses aren't possible?"

strawman 101.

who here is claiming that?

nobody.


police can (and some do) abuse anything. as do lawyers, etc. have the ability to abuse stuff. what's your point? how is this relevant?

the point is taht, contrary to popular belief, no-knock warrants are relatively rare, and judges do not just sign them willy nilly.
11.25.2006 5:47pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
A no-knock warrant is tremendously dangerous, not only for the residents, but for the police. Are those really police officers kicking in the door, or thugs waving shiny pieces of metal in one hand, and holding a gun in the other?

If the police are serving a no-knock warrant at the right address, and the warrant is based on legitimate and accurate information, the people inside are potentially quite dangerous. If they are at the wrong address (which sometimes happens) or an informant has given them completely false information (which happens with distressing regularity), the person inside might be someone like me: completely law-abiding, and who therefore must assume that a forced entry is a criminal who needs to be shot immediately.

No-knock warrants started to become popular in the 1960s because drugs would get flushed down the toilet. If there were no social costs to no-knock warrants, they would make loads of sense. But the risks are substantial--too high to justify the small benefit from removing some low-level drug dealers. (I rather doubt that you can flush half a ton of cocaine down the toilet--as was alleged to be present in a home in San Diego where Customs and DEA served a no-knock warrant, shot someone and sent them to the hospital for almost a year--and guess what? No drugs!)

There are a few circumstances where a no-knock warrant makes sense, and the social costs are tolerable for the benefits.

1. You have reason to believe that a hostage is being held.

2. You have reason to believe that the residents have a bomb or other WMD sufficiently powerful to be a threat to others. (Call this the al-Qaeda sleeper cell scenario.)

I am inclined to think that any case that involves drugs or financial records (the two categories that can be quickly destroyed while you wait for the resident to open the door) don't justify the dangers.

Let's also remember that part of the problem is that judges approve these no-knock warrants. The case I mentioned above, involving the supposed half a ton of cocaine in the garage? I saw news coverage of that (including that rarest of events, an apology to the victim), and a year or two later, at an NRA convention, I had occasion to a guy who had just retired from Internal Affairs at the Treasury Department, who had investigated the case. His words to me were, "Most federal law enforcement officers are doing their jobs well. There are a few cowboys who are not." He told me that DEA went to a federal judge's house at 8:30 PM to get that warrant. The judge spent 30 seconds looking over the affadavit before issuing the warrant.

Once they got there, the Customs and DEA agents blew it again. The affidavit upon which the warrant was issued claimed that this guy had half a ton of cocaine sitting in his garage. The agents could see the interior of the garage when this guy (the VP of Manufacturing for an electronics company) drove into it. There was no half ton of cocaine there. Yet they served a no-knock warrant anyway, in the middle of the night.
11.25.2006 5:56pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
NewGuy,

I'm talking about compensation for innocent victims.

I specifically advocate treating no-knock searches as an ultrahazardous activity such that the public entity which secured the search warrant will be automatically liable when the police get the address wrong, or shoot an innocent person, and the only issues for trial will be damages and maybe causation.

This will get city and county risk managers involved and for d*mn sure create effective civilian oversight of the police activity most likely to harm the innocent.
11.25.2006 6:06pm
Speaking the Obvious:
The dynamics of police recruitment over time must also be considered. There was a time when people who applied for and were accepted into the police force would have been appalled by police searches that mimicked home invasions. However now it is not uncommon for those who apply for police positions to find it's kinda cool to get a job where they can dress up as soldiers and do great damage under color of law. That is to say, a change in the rules has led to a change in those who apply for and are interested in a job under new rules. This is similar to my field, medicine, where a change in the rules (from physician ownership to HMO employee status) has shifted work attitudes from those applying a generation ago who saw no problem in working weekends and long hours to today's applicants, many of whom leave medical school and residency expecting a 9 to 5 job with no weekend or night call. One way or another, society gets what society asks for.
11.25.2006 7:22pm
cirby (mail):
A couple of the posts above mention good, solid, practical ways to make more sure that a no-knock warrant isn't requested for little or no reason, and mention higher training and tactical standards for some SWAT teams.

Unfortunately, there are far too many jurisdictions where "SWAT Team" translates to "a dozen big guys who like to kick in doors and shoot guns." There's nowhere near the training or oversight you see with the handful of big-name "real" SWAT teams, and you end up with a handful of gung-ho cops who don't even know that the way they're going about the whole thing is just, well, dumb. "Threat Matrix," to a lot of these guys, is just a failed TV show from a while back.
11.25.2006 7:58pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
One of the interesting things I have noticed in this debate is that at least some of those opposing the NSA TSP program are not overly troubled by no-knock dynamic entry raids by militarized police, and a number of the more vocal proponents of the TSP are opposed to this sort of raid (and, I find myself in that category).

I am not sure if I can yet figure this out. You would think that those opposing the one would oppose the other, and the opposite. My only excuse here is that I see minimal risk, and, in particular, physical risk, from the TSP, whereas I see real physical risk from the type of police raids we have been discussing. Also, the TSP concerns national security, whereas the police raids mostly, IMHO, involve less critical matters. And, finally, the no-knock dynamic entry raids strike at the core of the 4th Amdt., whereas it was only by importion that telephone calls could be so protected. Still, I am not sure I persuade even myself here.
11.25.2006 10:08pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I should note that the thoughts behind my last post were first begun seeing Orin's later post on this, given his TSP postings. But then I saw Clayton Cramer's post, and that crystalized things for me.
11.25.2006 10:11pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):
It seems to me the easiest solution is to simply remove the immunity (both civil and criminal) that would normally apply to anyone involved in a no knock warrant. Not just the officers executing the warrant, but the judge who issued the warrant, any district attorney personnel, and the informant, if there is one. Or am I missing something obvious?
11.25.2006 10:11pm
TheNewGuy (mail):
Cirby,

I don't know what kind of meathead officers you've been associating with, but your experience doesn't even come close to any team I've encountered.

The "dumb jocks with guns" myth of SWAT guys is mostly wrong in my experience, and I'm one of those guys who goes to the national conferences and interfaces with hundreds of other operators from all over the country.

I've yet to meet the "Bubba and Booger with automatic weapons" team that everyone seems to be so worried about... but maybe that's selection bias on my part.
11.25.2006 10:21pm
33yearprof (mail):
A stronger warrant requirement will not work. In any area with more than 3 judges there is 1 who'll sign a "no-knock" warrant for a Kangaroo's pouch in less than 10 seconds (when I was a prosecutor, I knew several). Every detective knows exactly who to go to for a "quickie," no review at all warrant signing. No problem in any big city. After all, there can be no negative consequences for the Judge.

The Supreme Court is no help. The Conservatives (normally my people) caused the problem.

So we are left with strict liability for the police. Not even a liberal Democrat will vote for that.

Which leaves us with dead 11 year-olds (California), crippled 29 year-olds (Maryland), and more dead grannies(Georgia). But the officers went home to their families unharmed at the end of their shift.

Some lives are more valuable than others.

Somehow, ... that's unAmerican.
11.25.2006 10:26pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Our two LEO above -- whit and NewGuy -- are being misleading. They're pretending that the rules on paper are the same as the way things work in real life. For instance;
i wonder how many people ACTUALLY know the first thing about the ROE for their local SWAT team, or have bothered to look into it at all, before opining.
So what? ROE are rules written on paper. They have essentially no legal effect. What's the penalty for violating them if no injuries result from the raid? Nothing. What's the penalty for violating them if doing so leads to, say, a dead homeowner? A stern talking to? A verbal reprimand? In extreme cases, a written reprimand? (Cops, of course, are often unionized, making internal discipline even more difficult than the ordinary government CYA does.)

Yes, no-knock requires a special warrant (But note that, as per last year's Supreme Court, there's no real disincentive to omitting the "announce" step in a knock-and-announce situation.). Yes, on paper it may require all sorts of special justification. In real life, well...
No-knock raids must be specifically approved based on some kind of exigent circumstances... and one joint in the house does NOT qualify.
Sure. Of course, cops don't exactly tell judges that there's "one joint in the house" while applying, do they? They say that the location is a known (based on the uncorroborated statements of a CI) hangout for drug dealers. And that's your "some kind of exigent circumstances" right there: drugs. Drug dealers are frequently violent and carry weapons. (And of course, drugs can be flushed, destroying evidence.)

IF a location scores high enough, a no-knock warrant is requested from a judge, and it may or may not be approved. Implying that warrants for non-violent minor drug offenses are routinely done no-knock with no oversight is simply a lie.
And when you say "may or may not," you mean "will." Because even if there are judges who are willing to accept the risk of a cop being killed while executing a knock-and-announce after the cops claimed a no-knock was required, there are judges who won't... and cops and prosecutors know which judges are which.

As an insider, you're seemingly missing the forest for the trees. When you're a cop trying to put together an application for a warrant, it may feel like hard work to get it approved... just as a harried, overworked A.D.A. may sweat over the effort to get someone indicted, and may bristle at the thought of a person claiming the task is easy. But stepping back and looking at the big picture, prosecutors can, as Sol Wachtler famously said, indict ham sandwiches if they want to. It's not an adversarial proceeding.


Also, professional teams (like LAPD's D-platoon, and LASD SWAT) usually have a threat matrix, where points are assigned based on intel gathered before the warrant: is the location fortified? Any counter-surveilance? Any occupants with military training? Known weapons? Violent criminal history? Clandestine lab at the location? Certain things (like a clan-lab) will automatically generate a SWAT call-out in some jurisdictions.
And...
We need that capability and the element of surprise to take down certain kinds of locations. I'm not even going to attempt a warrant on the local outlaw biker clubhouse, or some ex-SF militia guy's home, if I can't stack the odds in favor of my team. The advantage already lies with the defender, and there are way more bad guys than cops... they'll win a war of attrition every time.
See how quickly it goes from "exigent circumstances" and carefully calibrated "threat matrices" (query how many SWAT teams are as relatively well-trained as the LAPD's is) to generalizations about "bikers" or "drug labs" or "militia guys"?
11.26.2006 2:03am
ummmmmmmm:
some of those opposing the NSA TSP program are not overly troubled by no-knock dynamic entry raids by militarized police

Nobody ever got shot as a result of a warrantless wiretap.
11.26.2006 4:20am
TheNewGuy (mail):
David,

I'd appreciate you not accusing me of dishonesty. I've been nothing but up-front throughout this entire discussion. There are fair points to be made on both sides, and attacking my veracity is unnecessary. I've discussed these issues on other blogs, and it always seems to degenerate into "L13r!!! Jackb00tz!! OMG!! C0pz 4 teh 3v1l!!! LOL!!!11"

Sorry, but I expect better here.

Also, are you completely unaware of the kinds of hardware routinely pulled out of outlaw biker clubhouses? Do you know how heavily booby-trapped clan-labs often are, and how tweaked-out and heavily-armed their cooks tend to be? Plenty of militia guys are ex-military, and have sufficient training (important) to make them very formidable with their weapons.

I admit that the above questions are partially unfair, and loaded... but I'm trying to educate you. I have the advantage of having studied my adversaries, and I know their capabilities very well.

If you can't understand why a team might ask for a no-knock in the above circumstances, then little else I'm going to say will make any difference for you.
11.26.2006 8:00am
whit:
david, you simply have no idea what you are talking about

fact: the vast majority of warrants are not no-knock
fact: cops do not try to get every warrant turned into a no-knock warrant.

why do u have this misguided (nonfactual) idea that cops and tactical teams are out there to try to turn every warrant for every dipshit MJ grower, etc. into some sort of waco-like tactical raid?

it's simply not true.

like i said, a BIG part of the problem with LE in general is that the people making the decisions (in regards to SWAT or anything else) are rarely versed in any sort of real law enforcement, but are just cop-o-crats.

ROE's have TONS of legal effect. you are simply wrong there. if cops violate WRITTEN policy (ROE's), they open themselves up to massive civil liability, and they (we ) know it.

i also continually see this idea that cops take informants at face value or that confidential informant information (w/o independant corroboration) is PC to get a warrant. rubbish

look, anybody who has been a cop for more than 10 minutes doesn't believe ANYBODY - that means burglary victims, rape victims, DV victims, witnesses, etc. and ESPECIALLY informants

EVERYBODY frigging lies, and informants are at the top of the liar pantheon.

get real.

has anybody actually looked at what %age of drug warrants are "no-knock" ? of course not. they just make these assumptions that any old drug warrant is no knock because of "exigency" etc. which is simply not true.
11.26.2006 10:58am
John Jenkins (mail):
whit, don't forget when you say that everyone lies, you're including cops in there (which is absolutely true).
11.26.2006 11:16am
whit:
of course. we're human.

i know that i have never lied in court, on an affidavit, etc.

but i am certain there are cops that do.

i can say in 20 years of law enforcement i have never seen any cop ever plant anything, ever lie about something on the stand, or in a police report.

no offense to defense attorneys :l but i'd compare our records any day :)
11.26.2006 11:30am
33yearprof (mail):

i can say in 20 years of law enforcement i have never seen any cop ever plant anything, ever lie about something on the stand, or in a police report.


I caught one once in all three. Not realizing that photocopies had been made and after his partner had been hammered on the stand, he took the lunch hour to "improve" my client's confession by crossing out the "I want a lawyer." choice on the form and adding his signature as a witness (not realizing his partner had testified that he was alone). To make matters worse, he did it in contrasting ink. Then he got on the stand (after a two martini lunch?) and testified he wasn't there and his partner took the confession. HAT TRICK!!!

He was a 15-year federal agent too. I think he'd gotten away with this sort of thing for so long, he just got careless.

When Marandized by the Judge, he did request a lawyer though. :-)
11.26.2006 11:48am
John Jenkins (mail):
whit, I work in a county where a number of people were sent to prison and even death row on account of police dishonesty, corrupt district attorneys and a criminalist who wanted to make the cops happy. Google Joyce Gilcrhist.

No offense to cops, but defense attorneys don't testify (and I have seen cops lie on the stand, and in their affidavits, to the point of silliness). When I got to law school, I wanted to be a D.A. By the time I finished, having worked with cops, D.A.s and defense attorneys, I wanted nothing to do with any of them and am happily doing transactional law.

The one abiding conviction I took from the experience was that we'd all be better off if judges, prosecutors and juries were a little less credulous when it came to the words of police officers. Maybe then the bad ones would get cleaned out.
11.26.2006 11:59am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
whit,


This is a classic example of your ridiculous assumptions without evidence:



A classic example of my ridiculous assumptions? Did you have other examples in mind?

I agree that my evidence on this matter is slight and mostly reflects a vague impression from a few newspaper exposes on the subject. However, I don't think yours is much better and equally rests on unsupported assumptions.

I don't challenge the fact that in your experience these raids were used widely and well regulated. In fact I suspect no-knock style raids aren't abused by most police departments in the US. However, this isn't saying much. Even if most police departments in the states don't needlessly kill people this doesn't mean it isn't a serious problem. The reason I asked you how you knew about the standards for no-knock raids was because I wanted to know if you had any reason to believe other jurisdictions had the same requirements/safeguards/procedures. It seems you are just as much in the dark about the use of no-knock raids in other jurisdictions as I am. In fact your situation is worse as a few eggregious uses of no-knock raids (without penalty) gives me good evidence that there is a problem with oversight of no-knock raids while your knowledge that no-knock raids you saw were justified is very feeble evidence that they aren't abused elsewhere.

Ultimately your argument amounts to 'trust me the raids are used appropriately.' In addition to only being able to speak for one jurisdiction I see no reason to credit your judgement more than the judgement of SWAT style raid critics. If I'm to take your judgement that this process is sound and not easily abused why shouldn't I give equal credit to the judgement of the lawyers in this thread suggesting that this sort of judicial oversight really isn't very effective. Alternatively why shouldn't I take the judgement of the journalists who describe the problems with inappropriate use of SWAT style raids? Sure these people may be motivated to come up with one sort of answer but as a (former?) LEO so are you. I don't doubt your word but it's like asking a relative of a man shot by the police whether it was a good shooting.

I mean your comments are rhetorically quite strong (they win points in the argument..nothing bad) but really they don't strengthen the case that SWAT style raids aren't abused at all. No one is doubting that the police honestly believe they are doing the right thing in these SWAT style raids. The question is whether they are right. Without more specifics your comments basically just tell us what we already know, there is a police officer who doesn't believe his department used these raids inappropriately. I was hoping to get specifics on what qualifies as sufficiently dangerous to get such a warrant in your jurisdiction to try and eliminate this issue.

Coming back to the Tommy Chong raid the point isn't whether they are assault rifles or something else but rather that the armament and assault style tactics were clearly overkill for the situation. Despite knowing this case would be highly publicized and having as much evidence as they are ever going to have that they would not be met with violent resistance the police choose to execute a military style assault in the middle of the night rather than simply knocking on the door during the day and asking Mr. Chong to come outside. I mean the man was openly running a business shipping paraphernalia he wasn't going to be able to flush the evidence and if they were that desperate to try and find drugs on him why not just wait till the family went out to dinner? So despite extra scrutiny they knew this raid would come under they choose to utilize totally unnecessary tactics that surely significantly increased the chances of an accidental shooting.

Sure it may not have been a no-knock raid but it undermines the central tenet of your argument, that the police use good judgement and restraint about when to use SWAT style tactics. If the police went so overboard in such a high profile and low risk situation it just isn't plausible to believe slightly more dangerous or less public situations don't provoke an even more extreme sort of home invasion. Moreover, the apparent absence of internal condemnation or announcement of a plan to reform the rules on SWAT style tactics in light of the Chong arrest suggests that the law enforcement community (or at least the higher ups in this department) don't see a problem with this sort of overreaction. It strains credibility to think that police departments overreact like this in low-risk, unnecessary raids for minor crimes but their judgement magically clears up in slightly more serious situations, e.g., arresting a poor black man for dealing weed who has a gun permit and a previous conviction for assault from getting in a bar fight when young.

Still you've convinced me of one thing. The issue isn't so much when no-knock raids should be used but when SWAT style home invasions should be used. Even if they yell 'police' before they knock down the door in the middle of the night and rush in assault style there is considerably more risk of an accidental shooting than if a few armed officers advance slowly and cautiously or they try waiting for the suspect to answer the door.

Also other comments have convinced me that judicial warrant requirements just aren't going to be effective. As you point out (at least where you worked) they already exist and as others point out there is probably always going to be one judge who will grant the warrant. I mean I'm pretty damn far from being a law and order type but I would find it difficult to be in the position of causing an officer's death because I denied them the right to use a SWAT style entry despite their sworn affidavit that is was necessary. After all the police officer has more expertise and is closer to the situation then you are making it difficult to second guess them effectively.

My new suggestion is to create a private right of action against any police department (not the officers) who makes unnecessary use of SWAT style home invasions. Or alternatively require a monetary donation by the police department to a fund set up to compensate victims of accidental shootings during said invasions every time they make such a raid. In either case the point is to strengthen the internal incentives in the police department to minimize the use of such raids. I've heard the explosion in the use of SWAT style tactics stemmed from federal funding for local SWAT teams and if so returning the cost of using these tactics to its original price might fix the problem. More simply we could just take away the federal funding if this claim is really true.

--

Also I make no claims about the majority of searches being against dealers and other people higher up the chain. I thought this was the case myself but someone else in the thread claimed the opposite and I was clarifying what my statement amounted to if this claim was true. Personally I think it is problematic to have a law with substantial penalties whose enforcement (searching suspect user's homes) is left up to police/DA discretion as it allows too much bias and racial prejudice to sneak into the criminal justice system. Instead I think we ought to just outright ban searches for simple possession but this is another discussion.
11.26.2006 2:12pm
Toby:
When I was little, my grandmother, born in the 1880's, explained to me the view of her grandfather that as long as folks did n't do whatever they did in the streets "where it might scare women and horses" than whatever it was of not concerne to the law. As the grandfather was a lawyer, her father was a lawyer, and her husband was a lawyer whose cases had gotten to the supreme court in the 60's, it seeme d a theory on fairly solod ground.

As I began to learn about law, and Miranda, and exclusion in the 70's, I reached for some rational defensible position that would explain why it mattered how the evidience was found. THe only defebnsible reason I could find was my grandmothers. If it is not on the streets, and no one can tell that you are doing it, it effectively gets removed from the purview of the law bu exclusionary rules.

No-knock warrants for anything other than hostages/torture? Well they bring private matters into the street, when they should be of concern to no one. I don't care what they are doing, if it is non-violent, and they can only be caught by no-knock, then it is not enough of a public concenr to catch them.

As has been observed, we should all fear perfect justice. No-knock, at its best, is striving for such perfect justice.

anything in the street where it might scare women and
11.26.2006 8:09pm
33yearprof (mail):
THIS is why trusting the police to discipline themselves will never work. As I said earlier, civilian lives just aren't worth much to the police. The police statements below prove this.

From Radley Balko's website.

>>>>> I hate to be all-SWAT, all the time here. It gets depressing. But there's been a significant development in the Culosi case.

Apparently, the recommendation handed down by the internal police investigation is that the officer who shot and killed Culosi be given three weeks of unpaid suspension, and that he be removed from the SWAT team.

* * *

But there's still plenty to be concerned about, here. First, from the article:

The punishment recommended for Officer Deval V. Bullock in the shooting, which occurred in January, has outraged fellow officers, who said it is too harsh, ... numerous officers said an oral or written reprimand is typically given when a Fairfax officer accidentally shoots someone. <<<<<
11.26.2006 10:35pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
NewGuy:
I'd appreciate you not accusing me of dishonesty.
I didn't accuse you of dishonesty. I said that your statements are misleading. You're describing the way it works on paper, or in training videos, as if that were the same as the way it worked in real life. You're describing the ideal use of no-knock SWAT tactics as if they represented the norm; you're discussing these tactics as if they were used only for raiding suspected terrorist headquarters rather than in routine drug busts. (No, I don't mean possession.)

Whit:
david, you simply have no idea what you are talking about

fact: the vast majority of warrants are not no-knock
fact: cops do not try to get every warrant turned into a no-knock warrant.
I did not say anything which contradicts either of those things.
why do u have this misguided (nonfactual) idea that cops and tactical teams are out there to try to turn every warrant for every dipshit MJ grower, etc. into some sort of waco-like tactical raid?
I don't. Why do you have this misguided (nonfactual) idea that these tactics are used only in the most extreme situations? No, they're not used for "every" dipshit marijuana grower. But they're used for some dipshit marijuana growers, instead of only in cases of Colombian narcoterrorist gangs. Many jurisdictions far too small to justify having SWAT teams have them -- and once they have them, they need to use them to justify having them.

ROE's have TONS of legal effect. you are simply wrong there. if cops violate WRITTEN policy (ROE's), they open themselves up to massive civil liability, and they (we ) know it.
Yeah, right. Except now you're on my terrain, as a lawyer, and I know that while it's theoretically possible to have a cop held liable, it's practically almost impossible. Leaving aside that it isn't civil libertarians drafting ROE in the firwt place, and leaving aside all the legal problems previously identified, like qualified immunity, there's a practical problem with establishing proof that the ROE were violated. Which depends on other cops being honest.
i also continually see this idea that cops take informants at face value or that confidential informant information (w/o independant corroboration) is PC to get a warrant. rubbish

look, anybody who has been a cop for more than 10 minutes doesn't believe ANYBODY - that means burglary victims, rape victims, DV victims, witnesses, etc. and ESPECIALLY informants
Like I said earlier: go look up what happened in Tulia. When you say that cops don't believe ANYBODY, there's one group you left out of your list: other cops. Besides, I didn't say cops believed the informants; I said you relied upon them.


Both of you would do well to read Radley Balko's "Overkill." He doesn't find a handful of botched raids; he finds hundreds of examples. And the raids aren't only used in extreme cases of militia headquarters; there are tens of thousands of them. (Not all no-knock, but all dynamic entry.) Often on flimsy evidence. And in the vast majority of botched raids, there are no legal consequences for the cops involved.
11.27.2006 5:31am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Let me just add that your denials about these things are about as convincing as when traffic cops deny they have ticket quotas. Sure, on paper you don't. Very few police forces will be stupid enough to write down such a thing. But cops know what happen if they don't issue enough.
11.27.2006 5:33am
Nony Mouse:
If there's really a concern about someone flushing evidence, would it not be more reasonable to get a court order to shut off water to a residence during a search, rather than busting in at midnight in a high-crime area?
11.27.2006 1:36pm
Gaius Obvious (mail):
A copy of the warrant is now available.

http://alt.coxnewsweb.com/ajc/pdf/searchwarrant.pdf
11.27.2006 10:08pm
brachiator (mail) (www):
But as to the immediately identified discrepancy, shouldn't the law be adjusted to the reverse? So that citizens are held blameless for any violence in protection of their homes and selves when a warrant or the police are in error, and the police should be fully, unqualifiedly and criminally liable for the wrongs they perpetrate?

The prospect of the above would certainly focus the mind wonderfully on getting the facts underlying a warrant right. After all, an armed society is a polite society. And a government that kills its citizens is a far greater threat than any civilian...
11.28.2006 10:18pm