“ We’re all potential sufferers . ” — Peter Christ, retired police officer
It’s the middle of the night.
Your neighborhood is in darkness. Your household is asleep.
All of a sudden, you’re awakened by a loud noise.
Somebody or an army of someone else’s has crashed through your entry way.
The burglars are in your home.
Your heart begins racing. Your stomach is linked in knots. The adrenaline is pumping through a person.
You’re not just afraid. You’re terrified.
Desperate to protect yourself and your loved ones from whatever threat has invaded your home, a person scramble to lay your hands on something— anything— that you might use in self-defense. It might be a torch, a baseball bat, or that licensed and registered gun you thought you’d probably never need.
You brace for the confrontation.
Shadowy figures check out the doorway, screaming purchases, threatening violence.
You stand frozen, your hands gripping whatever means of self-defense you could find.
Exactly that simple act— of standing frozen in fear plus self-defense— is enough to spell your doom.
The assailants open fireplace, sending a hail of bullets in your direction.
You die with no ever raising a weapon or firing a gun within self-defense.
In your final moments, you get a great look at your assassins: it’s the police.
Brace yourself, because this hair-raising, heart-pounding, jarring account of a no-knock, no-announce SWAT team raid is what passes for court-sanctioned policing in America today, also it could happen to any one of us.
Nationwide, SWAT teams routinely invade houses, break down doors, kill loved ones pets ( they will always shoot the dogs first ), damage furnishings, terrorize families, and wound or kill all those unlucky enough to be present during a raid.
No longer reserved exclusively meant for deadly situations, SWAT groups are now increasingly being used for relatively routine police matters such as serving a search warrant, with some SWAT groups being sent out as much as 5 times a day.
SWAT teams have been utilized to address an astonishingly trivial array of so-called criminal exercise or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes , improper paperwork filed by an orchid character , and misdemeanor marijuana possession , to give a brief sampling. In some instances, SWAT teams are even used, in full armament, to perform routine patrols .
These raids, which might be more aptly known as “ knock-and-shoot” policing , have become a thinly veiled, court-sanctioned way of giving heavily armed law enforcement the green light to accident through doors in the middle of the night.
No-knock raids, a subset of the chaotic, terror-inducing raids carried out simply by police SWAT teams upon unsuspecting households, differ in a single significant respect: they are carried out without police having to announce and identify themselves as police.
It’s a chilling difference: to the homeowner targeted for one of these no-knock raids, it appears as if they may be being set upon simply by villains mounting a home invasion.
Never thoughts that the unsuspecting homeowner, woken from sleep by the noises of a violent entry, has no way of distinguishing between a house invasion by criminals as opposed to a police mob. In many cases, there is little real distinction.
According to a good in-depth investigative report by The Washington Write-up , “ police carry out tens of thousands of no-knock raids every year nationwide . ”
While the 4th Amendment requires that law enforcement obtain a warrant based on probable cause before they can enter one’s home, search and seize one’s property, or violate one’s privacy, SWAT teams are granted “ no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the arrest warrants themselves are rendered practically worthless.
If these aggressive, excessive police tactics have also become troublingly commonplace , it is in large part due to judges who mainly rubberstamp the warrant demands based only on the word of police; police who have been known to lie or fabricate the facts in order to justify their claims of “ good suspicion” (as opposed to the higher standard of probable trigger, which is required by the Metabolism before any government standard can search an individual or even his property); and software that allows judges to remotely approve requests using computers, cellphones or tablets.
This sorry state of affairs is made even worse by U. S. Supreme Court rulings that have essentially done away with the need for a “ no-knock” warrant altogether , giving the police authority to disregard the protections provided American citizens by the Fourth Variation.
In addition to the terror brought on by these raids, common incompetence, collateral damage (fatalities, property damage, etc . ) and botched raids may also be characteristic of these SWAT group raids. In some cases, officers misread the address on the bring about. In others, they simply barge into the wrong home or even the wrong building. Within another subset of instances, police conduct a search of the building where the suspect no longer resides.
SWAT teams have even on occasion conducted multiple, sequential raids on wrong addresses or executed search warrants despite the fact that the suspect is already within police custody. Police have also raided homes on the basis of mistaking the presence or fragrance of legal substances to get drugs. Incredibly, these materials have included tomatoes, sunflowers, fish, elderberry bushes, kenaf plants, hibiscus, and ragweed.
All too often, botched SWAT team raids possess resulted in one tragedy after another for the residents with little consequences for law enforcement.
The horror stories have become legion by which homeowners are injured or killed simply because they mistook the SWAT team raid simply by police for a home invasion by criminals. Too often, the particular destruction of life plus property wrought by the police is no less horrifying compared to that carried out by lawbreaker invaders.
As one might expect, judges often afford extreme levels of deference to police officers who have mistakenly killed innocent civilians yet do not afford similar leniency to civilians who have hurt police officers in acts associated with self-defense. Indeed, homeowners that mistake officers for criminals can be sentenced for strike or murder if they take defensive actions resulting in trouble for police.
Yet the shock-and-awe tactics utilized by a lot of SWAT teams only boosts the likelihood that someone will get hurt.
That is certainly exactly what happened to Jose Guerena , the particular young ex-Marine who was murdered after a SWAT team kicked open the door of his Arizona home during a drug raid and opened fire. According to news reports, Guerena, 26 years old and the dad of two young children, grabbed a gun in response to the pressured invasion but never fired. In fact , the safety had been still on his gun when he was killed. Law enforcement officers were not as restrained. The particular young Iraqi war experienced was allegedly fired on 71 times. Guerena experienced no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing unlawful in his home.
Aiyana Jones is usually dead due to a SWAT raid gone awry. The 7-year-old was slain after a Detroit SWAT team— searching for a suspect— released a flash-bang grenade into her family’s apartment, out of cash through the door and opened up fire, hitting the little girl who was asleep on the living room sofa. The cops weren’t even in the right apartment.
Exhibiting a similar lack of basic concern for public safety, a Georgia SWAT team launched a flash-bang grenade into the house in which Child Bou Bou, his three sisters and his parents were staying. The grenade landed in the 2-year-old’s crib , burning a hole in his chest and departing him with scarring that the lifetime of surgeries will not be capable to easily undo.
Payton, a 7-year-old dark Labrador retriever, and 4-year-old Chase, also a black Laboratory, were shot and wiped out after a SWAT team mistakenly raided the particular mayor’s home while searching for drugs. Law enforcement shot Payton four occasions. Chase had been shot twice , once from behind as he leaped away. “ My federal government blew through my doorways and killed my dogs. They thought we were drug dealers, and we were treated as such. I don’t think they will really ever considered that individuals weren’t, ” recalls Gran Cheye Calvo, who defined being handcuffed and interrogated for hours— wearing just underwear and socks— encircled by the dogs’ carcasses plus pools of the dogs’ blood.
If these types of violent SWAT team raids have become tragically widespread, you can chalk it up to the “ make-work” principle that has been used to justify the transfer associated with sophisticated military equipment, weapons and training to local police departments, which in turn offers helped to transform law enforcement into extensions of the military— a standing army on American soil.
The problem, as one reporter deservingly concluded, is “ not that life has gotten that much more dangerous, is actually that authorities possess chosen to respond to even harmless situations as if they were in a warzone . ”
A study by a politics scientist at Princeton University concludes that militarizing law enforcement and SWAT teams “ provide no detectable benefits in terms of officer safety or violent crime reduction . ” The study, the very first systematic analysis on the use and consequences of militarized force, reveals that “ police militarization none reduces rates of violent crime nor changes the number of officers assaulted or murdered . ”
SWAT teams, designed to defuse dangerous situations such as all those involving hostages, were never ever meant to be used for routine police work targeting nonviolent suspects, however they have become intrinsic areas of federal and local police force operations.
Presently there are few communities without a SWAT team today.
In 1980, there were roughly 3, 000 SWAT team-style raids in the US.
Incredibly, that number has since grown to over 80, 000 SWAT group raids per year .
Where this turns into a problem of life and death for Americans is certainly when these militarized SWAT teams are assigned to carry out routine law enforcement tasks.
In the state associated with Maryland alone, 92 percent of 8200 SWAT missions were used to execute search or arrest warrants .
Police in both Baltimore plus Dallas have used SWAT teams to bust up poker games .
A Connecticut SWAT team swarmed a bar suspected of serving alcoholic beverages to underage individuals.
In Arizona, a SWAT team has been used to break up an alleged cockfighting ring .
An Atlanta SWAT team raided the music studio , apparently out of a concern that it might have been involved in illegal music piracy.
A Minnesota SWAT team raided the wrong house in the middle of the night, handcuffed the three young children, held mom on the floor at gunpoint, chance the family dog, and then “ forced the handcuffed children to sit alongside the carcass of their dead pet and bloody dog for more than an hour ” while they looked the home.
A California SWAT team drove an armored Lenco Bearcat into Roger Serrato’s yard , surrounded his home with paramilitary troops wearing face masks, threw a fire-starting flashbang grenade into the house in order, when Serrato appeared at a windowpane, unarmed and wearing only his shorts, held your pet at bay with rifles. Serrato died of asphyxiation through being trapped in the flame-filled house. Incredibly, the father of four had done nothing wrong. The SWAT group had misidentified him as someone involved in a shooting.
And then there was clearly the police officer who tripped and “ accidentally” shot and killed Eurie Stamps, an unarmed grandpa of 12 , who had been forced to lie facedown on the floor of his home from gunpoint while a SWAT team attempted to execute a lookup warrant against his stepson.
Equally unreasonable was the four-hour SWAT team raid on the California high school , exactly where students were locked lower in classrooms, forced to urinate in overturned desks and generally terrorized by seriously armed, masked gunmen searching for possible weapons that were by no means found.
These incidents underscore a dangerous attitude in which the citizenry (often disarmed and defenseless) not only have less rights than militarized police, but also one where the safety of the citizenry is treated as a lower concern than the safety of their law enforcement counterparts (who are equipped to the hilt with an variety of lethal and nonlethal weapons).
Likewise, the privacy, property and protection are no longer safe from federal government intrusion.
Yet it wasn’t always by doing this.
There was a moment in America when a person’s house was a sanctuary, safe and secure in the threat of invasion simply by government agents, who were kept at bay by the dictates from the Fourth Amendment, which safeguards American citizens from unreasonable queries and seizures.
The Fourth Amendment, in turn, had been added to the U. Ring. Constitution by colonists still smarting from the abuses they’d been forced to endure whereas under British rule, among these home invasions from the military under the guise in “ writs of aid. ” These writs awarded British soldiers blanket expert to raid homes, destruction property and wreak chaos for any reason whatsoever, without any expectation of probable result in.
To our detriment, we have come full circle to a time before the North american Revolution when government agents— with the blessing of the courts— could force their technique into a citizen’s home, using seemingly little concern to find lives lost and valuables damaged in the process.
Rubber-stamped, court-issued warrants just for no-knock SWAT team raids have become the modern-day equivalent regarding colonial-era writs of help.
Then again, we may be worse off today when one considers typically the extent to which courts include sanctioned the use of no-knock raids by police SWAT teams (occurring at a rate of more than 85, 000 a year and growing); the arsenal of deathly weapons available to local law enforcement agencies; the ease with which courts now dispense seek out warrants based often in little more than a suspicion in wrongdoing; and the inability in police to distinguish between plausible suspicion and the higher traditional of probable cause.
This is exactly what we can expect really as a result of President Biden’s commitment to expand police force and so-called crime reduction at taxpayer expense .
Yet as soon as i make clear in my book Battlefield America: The exact War on the American Folks in addition to its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries , no matter what the politicians insist to the on the contrary, militarized police armed with tools of war who are energized to carry out pre-dawn raids on our homes, shoot our creatures, and terrorize our visitors are not making America almost any safer or freer.