What's a Raid Without a Rapping Genie?

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When a Virginia SWAT team chasing child pornography raided the wrong house last month, one of the officers taking part was … Shaquille O'Neal.

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  1. I’m sure they brought him along for his expertise in shaq-fu

  2. And because he’s really good undercover. Blends right in.

  3. Don’t these Gomers double check things like addresses before terrorizing people? I guess the answer to that has already been given. So sad.

  4. Cops are the worst “gun nuts” around. If they have any reason at all to raid a private home, they just love to point their loaded guns at men, women and children. Two-handed grip, firing stance, gun sights on the target. Freeze motherfucker, this is no game! The part about Shaquille O’Neal being in on the raid is down right surreal.

  5. He’s also a “reserve” officer in Miami.
    Sworn in last year.
    That rappin’ genie sure gets around.

  6. When are people going to wake up? We are getting damn close to a full-on police state at this point. It’s not like they went next door, they had an incorrect IP address and basically ended up at a random home. That means ANYONE could be next, no matter their proximity to the actual “crime.”

  7. One of these times they might accidentally raid the home of an ex-Green Beret. After a massive exchange of gunfire, the previously innocent homeowner will explain, “They drew first blood, not me.”

    😉

  8. I read about this earlier today here

    My favorite part of the piece is where the cops dispute the guy who got raided’s account :

    Harmony said the sheriff’s office apologized, but Nuckols mischaracterized the incident. Harmony said officers were wearing bulletproof vests and may have been in dark or camouflaged clothing, but were not carrying assault rifles or wearing helmets

    Really?? No Helmets or assault rifles? They just wear camoufalge and bullet proof vests but they dont wear helmets and they only carry service revolvers?? That doesn’t seem to pass the smell test. But either way how does that make it better? “Sure we raided the wrong house and wrongfully held an innocent family at gunpoint while ransacking their home and personal belongings — but you see we didn’t have helmets on and the guns were small ones.”

    Why is this kind of show of force necessary to serve a warrant for someone who is suspected of “distributing child porn” on the internet??

  9. Joseph beat me to the point on the wrong IP address.

    And to think our not so great top law enforcement officer wants IT companies to keep IP information for two years. So if he gets his way, expect more of this.

    America wants a full-on police state to protect them from the bad guys.

  10. Why is this kind of show of force necessary to serve a warrant for someone who is suspected of “distributing child porn” on the internet??

    I was wondering what sort of ordnance the typical internet pornographer is packing that make a SWAT unit necessary.

  11. A bit of pedantry, Tom: cops rarely carry revolvers anymore. I’d bet you $100 that there’s not a single SWAT cop in the country that uses one. They’re not “tactical” enough or something.

    As for your last question – cops love to dress up and play soldier, but they don’t like getting shot at.

  12. Great. Shaq gets away with yet another blatant personal foul.

  13. But being serious for a moment, most states require proof of intent to distribute whatever illegal item. But I didn’t get a clear indication they even obtained a search warrant.

    This sounds like it has the makings of a gigantic lawsuit. Of course, I’m clueless about the laws of Virginia, so for all I know it’s illegal to sue the government there.

  14. Shaq should be spending this time working on free throws instead.

  15. Astute comment there, Russ 2000.

  16. Still doesn’t add up. The couple claimed they don’t even use e-mail, which probably means they don’t have ANY net presence. So it’s not a matter of having the wrong IP address, although it might’ve been a matter of having the wrong physical address.

  17. Tom: cops rarely carry revolvers anymore. I’d bet you $100 that there’s not a single SWAT cop in the country that uses one.

    Lot’s of cops still carry revolvers but more of them carry semi-automatic pistols – Glocks being a particular fav.

    Don’t know about S.W.A.T. team members carrying handguns but then this begs a reiteration of the question about why a S.W.A.T. team needs to serve a warrant and search a house.

    I can understand some of the idea about “show of force” and all but you could do that with 3 or 4 patrol officers. You don’t need a 10-member S.W.A.T. force and assorted paraphenalia – all there on YOUR tax dollars.

  18. Couldn’t someone engaging in an illegal business like child pornography simply mask their IP with something like anonymizer? And if they can, why wouldn’t they?

  19. I hope that the home-invaded have filed a complaint with the Justice League. Steel should have known better than to screw up like that.

    Kevin

  20. You don’t need a 10-member S.W.A.T. force

    The more SWAT officers there are, the less likely they are to sit around looking at the guy’s pron. It keeps them on-task.

  21. You don’t need a 10-member S.W.A.T. force

    While you don’t NEED the full SWAT team, from a training and development perspective, it’s far better to use them frequently in real-world situations, rather than have them train in purely simulation scenarios, or worse, have them sitting around doing nothing because training simulations are expensive to run.

    I was part of a similar tactical squad when I was in the military, and we were regularly used in lower-intensity situations that wouldn’t necessarily merit such a fully-armed response. The main reason was to keep us current and well-trained on our weapons and tactics.

    If you want a team that can respond promptly and capably when they’re really needed, make sure that they get plenty of practice before they’re really needed. (That and teach them how to correctly identify a residential address before busting down the door.)

    As for the whole Shaq thing… I’m still having a hard time believing that one.

  22. Sounds like a management issue to me, mk.

  23. Robert Goodman, the man said they are “not avid computer users,” and “we don’t even e-mail.” They might still have a computer with online access that doesn’t get used much.

    The incidence of these types of raids has sure changed my attitudes on a few things. For instance, I recently was renting a room in my house to a guy who was a pot smoker. Though I quit using pot long ago, I said I didn’t care so long as he kept it in his bedroom so it wouldn’t aggravate my allergies. Just over the past few months, reading Radley Balko’s work has convinced me that I would not allow illegal drugs to be used in my house by another renter. I live in a neighborhood where drugs are sold on the street and the brothers sometimes congregate around there. In particular, they sometimes congregate in my neighbor’s yard. Now I know my neighbors and know them to be decent people, but can’t vouch for everyone their grandsons associate with. Though unlikely that I’ll ever be the victim of a botched raid, I think it’s likelier for me than for most people.

    Of course, my neighbor’s decency wouldn’t protect them anyway. They are two nice, elderly women whose grandsons and their friends come and hang around sometimes. They could actually be a textbook case of a wrongly-targeted household.

    Anyhow, thanks to Radley Balko if he is reading this thread, for bringing the issue to our attention. I think it is be the # 1 domestic policy issue I’m concerned with, at this point.

  24. The main reason was to keep us current and well-trained on our weapons and tactics.

    Excepting the fact that I have learned a great deal in life from my mistakes, I doubt this is a good example of keeping guys “well-trained.”

    I bow to your experience and maybe you can enligten me differentlybased on it.

    But I get the feeling the only thing these guys will learn is how to dodge criticism and how to further objectify a wrongly-accused citizen as a crank and a troublemaker for raising a stink over their blatant error.

  25. Remember the Elian Gonzalez kidnapping? Those ATF guys had sub-machine guns and body armor, they looked like they were dressed for war. Somehow they were able to locate the right address, though. I’ve always though of that Pulitzer Prize winning photograph as Bill Clinton’s Legacy.

  26. Somehow they were able to locate the right address, though.

    Every Cuban expat in Miami knew that address.

  27. The main reason was to keep us current and well-trained on our weapons and tactics.

    By that rationale, you should go ahead and open fire on the suspects for target practice. After all, we want you to be able to kill civilians when it’s necessary, so go ahead and do it when it’s unnecessary! Better fire up that tank and drive it through the house, while you’re at it – never know when the next Camp Davidian crisis will occur!

    Police training is a perfectly logical explanation for needless militarism. It’s just not a sufficient justification, because people’s dignity and security in their homes come before cop games. Cops who don’t understand that are themselves the criminals in my book.

  28. The main reason was to keep us current and well-trained on our weapons and tactics.

    By that rationale, you should go ahead and open fire on the suspects for target practice. After all, we want you to be able to kill civilians when it’s necessary, so go ahead and do it when it’s unnecessary! Better fire up that tank and drive it through the house, while you’re at it – never know when the next Camp Davidian crisis will occur!

    Police training is a perfectly logical explanation for needless militarism. It’s just not a sufficient justification, because people’s dignity and security in their homes come before cop games. Cops who don’t understand that are themselves the criminals in my book.

  29. Wow Jeremy… that was a lot of pent up hostility, and very little rational thought.

  30. In Jeremy’s defense, Russ, keeping cops up-to-date on weapons and tactics is apretty bullshit excuse for what this SWAT team did. It’s like justifying unwanted and unnecessary surgery by saying that doctors need to be kept up-to-date on surgical techniques, and it would be dangerous to limit this to actual incidents where the surgery is necessary.

  31. I’ve noticed two disturbing trends in law enforcement lately. The first, an increased degree of militarization, has received good coverage by Cato – and Reason – among others.

    The second is this whole “blue swarm” thing. Today, New Haven buried a police officer who died after being hit while directing traffic:
    http://www.wfsb.com/news/10155548/detail.html

    A tragic, untimely death to be sure. But “hundreds of officers” from “far and wide” attended the service. I sincerely doubt most of them even knew the guy. But this is a standard practice.

    You have to ask yourself, if someone from your industry died tragically… would you show up at the funeral, if you didn’t know him? A few years back, a local funeral director – also an individual of standing in the community – was hit by a drunk driver outside his funeral home. While I’m sure some were there, I doubt “hundreds” of funeral directors from “far and wide” took the day off to go to Joe’s.

    It’s bizarre, and, I suspect, indicative of something a bit more sinister in the mindset of today’s law enforcement community in the US.

    JMJ

    P.S. And before anyone brings up the riskiness of the occupation… check the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (I’ve posted these on H&R before.) There are plenty of occupations that are a lot riskier – including several of the trades. (If I remember correctly, logging tops the list, but roofers are up there pretty high.)

  32. Funny, I always thought that taxicab driver wasthe most dangerous occupation.

  33. Hey, if you don’t have enough real SWAT work to keep your SWAT team sharp, maybe you don’t need a SWAT team.

    I’m just sayin’.

  34. Russ

    I can’t argue about the validity of the low level training, however it appears that the MOST bang for their buck in the training dept. would be to spend some more time at the desk getting the damn address correct. Screw the black mask and pajammies shit. These wannabe ninji’s always seem to have their superiors making rationalizations and appologies for “how they made this regretable mistake”. (of course no one is EVER diciplined) After awhile “sorry dude”….dont friggin cut it. I’m not much for litigation however I’d love to see Shaq get his ass sued along with all the other SWAT members. That might make his little fantasy evenings with the boys in black less enticing.

    head shots would equally as well……
    either way……works for me

  35. Jennifer: “In Jeremy’s defense, Russ, keeping cops up-to-date on weapons and tactics is apretty bullshit excuse for what this SWAT team did.”

    What the SWAT team did was get the wrong address. I certainly wasn’t making excuses for that. I already said they screwed that up, and I believe that the person who got it wrong should be held responsible, and the police force should compensate the homeowners appropriately.

    My argument is that keeping the SWAT team well-trained is a good reason to send them to serve an arrest warrant even though the probability is low that the suspect will open fire on the police, and 4 cops with pistols could probably do the job.

    If they had got the address right would you have had any problem with the story (apart for the Shaq bit)?

    I’ve read the homeowner’s account of the incident, and there’s only one word in it that relates to behaviour I would consider unprofessional (though not a misuse of force). Apart from that, the SWAT team did exactly what they’re supposed to do.

  36. My argument is that keeping the SWAT team well-trained is a good reason to send them to serve an arrest warrant even though the probability is low that the suspect will open fire on the police, and 4 cops with pistols could probably do the job

    If they had got the address right would you have had any problem with the story

    Yes — I think lot’s of people do have a problem with using SWAT teams to do things that don’t require a SWAT team. Like RC said above…if there aren’t enought tasks that require a SWAT team to keep them sharp maybe the SWAT team should be disbanded. It puts people at an unnecessary risk and I don’t think “keeping the team sharp” is a valid rationale to put people at unnecessary risk.

    Why should someones spouse / children have to be victimized if there is little threat to the police? How many family pets have been shot and killed while warrants are being served by SWAT teams that weren’t necessary.

    Apart from that, the SWAT team did exactly what they’re supposed to do

    The problem isn’t the SWAT teams actions…its the questionable deployment of the SWAT team.

    There are valid reasons to deploy a SWAT team….for practice is not one of them. (Neither is serving a warrant for child porn)

  37. RC Dean: “Hey, if you don’t have enough real SWAT work to keep your SWAT team sharp, maybe you don’t need a SWAT team.”

    Agree. Now tell me… how many incidents per year that require the use of a SWAT team constitute adequeate justification for having one. I’ll grant that a lot of municipalities certainly don’t need one, and maintaining a team is mostly a matter or prestige or machismo.

    However, let’s say you need the team five or ten times per year (pick whatever number you consider to be appropriate). Rather then having these guys sit on their asses the rest of the time it only makes sense to put them to work serving arrest warrants. You’re paying their salaries regardless.

    I don’t honestly think that serving an arrest warrant using a team of people who are specially trained for doing so is in any way less prudent than using four street cops with sidarms to get the job done.

  38. I don’t honestly think that serving an arrest warrant using a team of people who are specially trained for doing so is in any way less prudent than using four street cops with sidarms to get the job done.

    … unless they’re extensively trained in aggressive tactics, issued military gear, have the mindset I mentioned in my post at 17:37, and, thus, are the proverbial hammers to which everything looks like a nail.

    JMJ

  39. ChicagoTom: ” think lot’s of people do have a problem with using SWAT teams to do things that don’t require a SWAT team.”

    Are those problems related to perception and image of big, bad militaristic SWAT teams dressed in black and carrying big guns, or the actual effectiveness of SWAT teams in making arrests?

    “It puts people at an unnecessary risk and I don’t think “keeping the team sharp” is a valid rationale to put people at unnecessary risk.”

    Care to offer any evidence in support of that contention? I don’t believe that the use of a well-trained, professional SWAT team increases the risk to the public at all.

    “The problem isn’t the SWAT teams actions…its the questionable deployment of the SWAT team. There are valid reasons to deploy a SWAT team….for practice is not one of them. (Neither is serving a warrant for child porn)”

    It’s great that you know best how and when the police department’s SWAT team should be deployed, and have taken into consideration not only the particular circumstances and risks associated with each arrest warrant, but also the team’s training and development needs, and how to most efficiently manage the usage of the limited police resources available to the force.

    Remind me to nominate you for police commissioner.

  40. Care to offer any evidence in support of that contention? I don’t believe that the use of a well-trained, professional SWAT team increases the risk to the public at all.

    Okie dokie. For homework tonight:
    http://www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/balko_whitepaper_2006.pdf

  41. Since I don’t have time to read all of Radly Balko’s 100 page report, I’ll just clip the following from the executive summary:

    “increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate … have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.”

    Let’s see… 40,000 SWAT team raids… only “dozens” of total casualties.

    It’s reasonable to assume that “dozens” means more than 24 and less than 100. That’s still a better than 99.75% rate of “no physical harm to anyone”. Excluding injuries to offenders and officers, the risk to the general public is even closer to negligible.

    Now… had those 40,000 arrest warrants been served by less well-trained police officers, do you honestly think the results would have been significantly better?

  42. Jeezus, that’s the best you can do? Seriously?

    Please, go home and read the damned paper. Especially the part about (once again, I’m compelled to mention) that attitude I wrote about in my post at 17:37.

    JMJ

  43. However, let’s say you need the team five or ten times per year (pick whatever number you consider to be appropriate). Rather then having these guys sit on their asses the rest of the time it only makes sense to put them to work serving arrest warrants.

    If you only need them to do SWAT actions five or ten times a year, then sure, have them serve arrest warrants, or do traffic patrol, or give anti-drug talks the rest of the time, just to keep them occupied as they earn their paychecks. But that doesn’t mean that they have to do their full-dress military thing while they’re executing arrest warrants, or pulling over red-light runners, or giving drug talks to the local middle school. Or are all SWAT members one-trick ponies?

  44. Russ R,

    It’s not about training, its about using tactics appropriate for the situation. Jennifer’s surgery analogy is spot on – like cutting into someone’s body, charging into a residence with military-level weapontry is an inherently risky activity, even those involved are well trained. As Uncle Jimbo of Blackfive, who has a similar background in these type of raids ,pointed out “The inherent risks once all that gear and weaponry is deployed in close quarters are huge and it takes massive amounts of training to be able to do so without harming innocents or yourselves.” If there aren’t enough situations where there is a realistic threat of violence on the part of the suspects to keep the SWAT team well trained, then the answer is consolidating the teams, not putting people at risk for the sake of training.

  45. A tragic, untimely death to be sure. But “hundreds of officers” from “far and wide” attended the service. I sincerely doubt most of them even knew the guy. But this is a standard practice.

    JMJ

    A couple of years ago the city of Winter Park, FL had trafic tied up for hours (Officers came from across the country) in the middle of the day for the funeral of an Orange County Deputy.

    Now, how, you might ask, had this worthy met his end?

    Well, it seems, he died of a heart attack, at home, while he was gardening. And yet he needed a funeral that was attended by his cohorts from across the nation.

    Oh, how I long for a return to the days of Robert Peele and his principles of civilian policing. Oh, I know, they never really existed but can an old man not dream? I don’t even bother to provide av link anymore.

  46. It’s funny how the same libertarians who believe gun ownership is entirely safe and reasonable, suddenly feel that weapons become more dangerous in the hands of the very people who have the most training on how to use them safely.

    The argument being made here against SWAT teams as oppoesed to traditional police forces reminds me of the “assault weapons” ban, in which anti-gun activists targeted a group of weapons that looked scarier and more menacing, despite there being no difference in risk.

  47. Sorry. Try again. What we’re talking about here ISN’T gun ownership, but misbehavior by supposedly well-trained government employees. The very people, in fact, against whom the Second Amendment was written to protect. So, please, heed my advice: DON’T GO THERE.

    Given that you’ve asked (“Care to offer any evidence in support of that contention?”) and I’ve answered (via reference to the Balko paper), I’m beginning to think, either: (a) you’re a troll (albeit better than average), or (b) you have some sort of “dog” in this particular fight, i.e. are a LE or family thereof. Of course, I can’t know for sure, since you choose not to identify yourself.

    I, OTOH, do. I’m one of the few people here (with the exception of the Reason staff) with the balls to do so. You can Google me and quickly find out where I live and work.

    The fact that I can’t do likewise for you leads me to believe that (a) is probably the case.

    If I’m wrong, I apologize; but you must first respond to the original matter, namely the issue of whether or not this militarization of what used to be called “peace officers” is endangering the public. I posted a reference to A HUNDRED AND THREE PAGE PAPER from Radly Balko documenting the claim in its affirmative. You dismiss it since you can’t be bothered to read it in all its ugly, nasty detail.

    If Radly’s wrong… point it out. Else concede the point.

    Else you’re a troll.

    JMJ

  48. This is no coincidence. I suspect Shaq was not only in on the raid but planned it. The Big Diesel, while a great player in many respects, couldn’t hit a shot from further than 10 feet away if his life depended on it. So why anyone thinks he could find a house of child porn is beyond me.

  49. I’ve been posting at HnR off-and-on for at least 2 years now, always under the same name (actually, I used to just go by “Russ”, until I found out there was a “Russ D”, so I added my second initial to reduce ambiguity). The reason I don’t post my full name is precisely because I don’t want people to know where I work and live. However, the fact that I choose to remain more anonymous doesn’t imply that I’m being disingenuous.

    I’m beginning to think, either: (a) you’re a troll (albeit better than average), or (b) you have some sort of “dog” in this particular fight, i.e. are a LE or family thereof. Of course, I can’t know for sure, since you choose not to identify yourself.

    Closer to (b). As I mentioned above at 4:08PM, I was part of a similarly armed and attired squad when I was in the Navy (Canadian). Yes, that was military, this is a law enforcement example… I’m not equating the two. I am well aware of the need for a very clear distinction between the role of the military and police. I’ve never worked in law enforcement, and wouldn’t want to.

    However, as it regards training, I think my military experience is very relevant. My argument is simple. There is no substitute for real-world experience.

    My team boarded and searched hundreds of vessels in the Persian Gulf looking for Taliban/Al Qaeda. Every vessel was boarded in exactly the same manner, carrying the same weapons and wearing the same gear. It didn’t matter if it was an oil-tanker, a boat of migrant smugglers, or a cruise ship. Was that overkill? I don’t think so. We knew our roles and safety precautions inside-and-out. We gained experience with boarding and securing all sorts of vessels we’d never seen before (something that can’t easily be simulated). We had many opportunities to assess our performance and make improvements, before facing any high-risk situations.

    If we didn’t have those learning opportunities, and the first time we were called upon to board a ship was in a hostile, non-compliant situation, it would have been idiocy to send us aboard. No prudent commander would have given the order to send an inexperienced team into a dangerous situation.

    In this regard, I don’t see law enforcement being any different. I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in a SWAT team that had never even done a basic arrest. To me, sending in an inexperienced team is a recipe for disaster. Individuals get scared, adrenaline takes over, and they forget all the safety precautions they were taught in training. To me, THAT would constitute endangering the public.

    As for the issue of risk, I’ve now had a chance to read through Balko’s paper. What he presents is a list of anecdotes, selected to support his argument that SWAT teams should be used less. Yes, the list is long, and all of the examples show mistakes made by the SWAT team, many of which led to injury or deaths. However, all of the accounts are presented more for shock value than as data. Even Balko’s wording is sensationalist wherever possible because his focus is on the “terror” inflicted upon the public, rather than comparing the actual effectiveness and relative risks of SWAT teams vs. traditional police forces.

    To make that comparison, he would have needed to show that SWAT teams pose a higher risk by measuring the rate of injury or death in SWAT raids and in traditional police raids as well for comparison. He gives 50+ pages of case studies and anecdotes of botched SWAT raids, but not one table for comparison.

    I don’t have available data, however, I find it VERY hard to imagine that the rate of success (no injury or death) for traditional police raids could be significantly higher than 99.75%.

  50. My team boarded and searched hundreds of vessels in the Persian Gulf looking for Taliban/Al Qaeda. Every vessel was boarded in exactly the same manner, carrying the same weapons and wearing the same gear. It didn’t matter if it was an oil-tanker, a boat of migrant smugglers, or a cruise ship. Was that overkill? I don’t think so. We knew our roles and safety precautions inside-and-out. We gained experience with boarding and securing all sorts of vessels we’d never seen before (something that can’t easily be simulated). We had many opportunities to assess our performance and make improvements, before facing any high-risk situations.

    Russ,

    I think you’ve unwittingly nailed it. Police are trained to believe that they’re operating in a war zone and that the public is, at least potentially, the enemy. Therefore, occassional civilan casualties are acceptable collateral damage. At least they’ll be better prepared to take on the real bad guys.

  51. I failed to mention that we never fired a single round, and everybody was intent on keeping it that way.

  52. Apart from that, the SWAT team did exactly what they’re supposed to do.

    Comment by: Russ R at October 25, 2006 05:49 PM

    Russ, i really do appreciate your expertise in the tactics of this sorts of stuff.

    but tell me clearly: in a domestic law enforcement scenario, use of SWAT teams for computer violations makes perfect sense?

    i mean, couldnt they detain the guy in a safer environment than storming a home in the dark? that seems to me from an application of force point of view the dumbest possible approach. It creates tactical problems it could otherwise avoid. Not to mention the fact of treating nonviolent criminals as potential threats that may ‘shoot on sight’. It sets up totally inappropriate rules of engagement for the scenario and creates potential for all sorts of self-generated heightening of threat levels for both suspect provocation as well as creating opportunity for friendly fire.

    JG

    JG

  53. Russ R,
    So, if out of 100 raids only 1 innocent person is killed that’s OK?

    I once watched one of my neighbors houses get raided. The police managed to not shoot the pets but did let them all out. One of the three came back. The damage to the house was substantial enough that the landlord evicted them. No charges were ever filed. That story is not in Mr. Balkos paper. I’m sure there are thousands more like it.

  54. couldnt they detain the guy in a safer environment than storming a home in the dark?

    This is what I’ve always wondered. I mean, I can imagine dozens of scenarios in which one could apprehend a subject without storming a house, if the suspect leaves the house a normal amount for work, errands, etc.

  55. I suppose Russ doesn’t believe the bullshit about how cops are support to “protect and serve” the citizenry, not when Russ is arguing that it’s acceptable for cops to endanger said citizenry to protect the lives of the cops themselves.

  56. The issue is that you don’t need military trained personnel to serve a warrant to a suspected child pornographer. End of story.

  57. That’s it, Kobe, no more hugs for you.

  58. …and, when there’s a fuckup (as there frequently is), the “blue swarm” effect takes over again, and nobody catches hell. (You will note this is a recurring theme in Radley’s paper.) There is, thus, no incentive to make corrections. Hell, there’s often not even an apology.

    Radley: It appears that Russ would like some hard numbers. Have any handy?

    JMJ

    P.S. They’ll be coming from “far and wide” again, today – this time to Hartford. In this case, the off-duty officer apparently rear-ended a tractor trailer on I91. Rear ended. A tractor trailer. Last I knew, that implied (a) speeding and/or (b) tailgating. Regardless, police will be marching, roads will be closed, etc., etc.
    http://www.wfsb.com/news/10135360/detail.html

  59. Well, Jennifer, given the coverage that Dickwitness News is giving the two police funerals (Off-duty. Rear-ended. Tractor Trailer.), cops must be Very, Very Important And Special People, so…

    JMJ

  60. Let me try to answer all of these at once:

    “but tell me clearly: in a domestic law enforcement scenario, use of SWAT teams for computer violations makes perfect sense?”

    I already said you don’t NEED a 10 persons SWAT team, but if it’s what you have available, you might as well use it.

    “Not to mention the fact of treating nonviolent criminals as potential threats that may ‘shoot on sight’.”

    Unfortunately, law enforcement in the US has to treat everyone as a threat that might open fire. Even traffic violations. I’m all in favour of ‘the right to bear arm’, but that means being prepared for the possibility that people are, in fact, armed. It’s certainly not the same in Canada.

    “So, if out of 100 raids only 1 innocent person is killed that’s OK?”

    No. It’s pretty far from OK. And those responsible SHOULD be punished, either administratively for small things like getting an address wrong, or criminally, for anything that anyone else would face charges. I also happen to believe that law enforcement should be held to much higher standards of conduct than the general population.

    “No charges were ever filed.”

    That’s not the same thing as “the arrest warrant was invalid”.

    “I suppose Russ doesn’t believe the bullshit about how cops are support to “protect and serve” the citizenry, not when Russ is arguing that it’s acceptable for cops to endanger said citizenry to protect the lives of the cops themselves.”

    Actually, I do believe it, whole heartedly. I served 10 years in the military, and always saw myself as a servant of the public. That’s why it’s called “service”.

    And no, it’s not acceptable to endanger the citizenry. You are arguing under the unproven assumption that SWAT pose a greater risk to the population. The only numbers I’ve seen show an extremely low risk of physical harm, but not all the data is available to make a comparison of SWAT vs traditional police raids. If the numbers support your argument, and it turns out that SWAT teams bring with them a significantly higher risk to either suspects or the public, I’ll agree with you. I don’t think I’m being at all unreasonable.

    “The issue is that you don’t need military trained personnel to serve a warrant to a suspected child pornographer. End of story.

    Yes, yes, it doesn’t need a SWAT team. I agree with you already.

    “…and, when there’s a fuckup (as there frequently is), the “blue swarm” effect takes over again, and nobody catches hell.”

    I agree entirely that this is a big problem, as is the “Rambo” attitude. I expect officers to be polite and professional, and when they make mistakes (they are still human), they should admit it and accept the consequences. I realize that’s a lot to ask, but don’t think it’s unreasonable.

    “It appears that Russ would like some hard numbers.”

    Balko’s report is much more about SWAT teams scaring people than physically endangering them. We’ve discussed scare tactics in journalism before… read through the paper and decide for yourself. I entirely agree with him that too many mistakes have happened, and those responsible should absolutely be punished with far greater severity than has been the norm.

    However, I don’t yet believe that a highly trained force presents any appreciable increase in risk to the public over the use of less trained, lightly-armed police officers. They only look scarier.

  61. I wonder if Shaq is paying Police Officer’s Union dues?
    When he was in L.A., he paid dues to the local Bricklayers Union.

  62. However, I don’t yet believe that a highly trained force presents any appreciable increase in risk to the public over the use of less trained, lightly-armed police officers. They only look scarier.

    The training level of the officers isn’t the issue, Russ. It’s whether risk to the public increases when you send a SWAT unit to kick the door down, hold everyone at gunpoint in a surprise raid as opposed to sending a few officers to pick someone up on the street or ring their doorbell. I would say the former undoubtedly increases the chance of someone being killed.

  63. Yes, yes, [serving a porn warrant] it doesn’t need a SWAT team. I agree with you already.

    So does this negate your previous arguments about how it was okay for the SWAT guys to come out anyway, since they needed the practice?

    SWAT teams were designed for truly dangerous situations, like arresting a guy with a pile of weapons, or dealing with dangerous hostage situations. When did “serving arrest warrants for non-violent crimes” become part of their stated mission?

  64. Russ,

    You need to read the paper and use some common sense. Had Sal Culosi been approached in a calm cool manner for serving a sports gambling warrant, he would be alive today. Instead, they called out the swat team to serve a warrant on a optometrist and one of the goons managed to accidentally put a round in him. Thus, had they not approached him with guns drawn (which there was clearly no need for) he would be alive today. Anytime you approach a situation with guns drawn and introduce automatic weapons, you are asking for trouble. These are high powered military weapons as you are well aware and have no place being depolyed when dealing with non-violent situations. Anytime you point a gun at someone, you are putting their life in danger – Full Stop. In addition, you claim you haven’t even read Balko’s paper, yet say it’s only about scaring people. You’re making yourself look like a jerk, so get a clue.

  65. Jennifer:

    “So does this negate your previous arguments about how it was okay for the SWAT guys to come out anyway, since they needed the practice?”

    No, it doesn’t.

    I agree that the guy behind the computer was probably not a sufficient risk to justify the use of a SWAT team. However, I added that there are more factors to take into consideration when deciding which group to send to make the arrest.

    Two of those other factors are availability of forces, and the need for continuous training for a SWAT team that expected to remain “highly trained”. You’re free to ignore those factors, but the police chief is forced to deal with them.

    I still stand by the argument that you can’t send people into a dangerous situation without adequate preparation and experience. You can try to train entirely on simulation, but it’s not the same thing.

    “SWAT teams were designed for truly dangerous situations, like arresting a guy with a pile of weapons, or dealing with dangerous hostage situations. When did “serving arrest warrants for non-violent crimes” become part of their stated mission?”

    It’s not. Neither is responding to medical emergencies the stated mission of the fire department. But they’re available, trained and equiped for doing the job, so they do it. I would think that it’s good for them to get experience in dealing with the basics in a low-risk environement before they have to respond to “the real thing”.

    Now, you’re going to say that my analogy stinks because sending the fire department doesn’t create a greater risk to anyone. And I’m going to say that without evidence, you can’t say that sending a SWAT team does increase the risk.

    What would constitute evidence? A simple table showing the total number of SWAT raids and traditional police raids for similar types of arrests where either type of response could have been used. Show the total number of injuries and deaths on both sides. (I’d be happy to focus on harm to suspects and the public rather than harm to officers, because it’s the safety of the public that is really at issue.) Divide the total number of casualties by the total number of raids on each side of the table. Analyze the results to determine if the difference is statistically significant.

    What does not constitute evidence? A laundry list of anecdotal stories of botched SWAT raids replete with gory details. I could present a very long list of air crashes and stories about victims but that wouldn’t be evidence supporting an argument that you should cancel your flight and drive instead.

    Tell me what part of this is unreasonable?

  66. A simple table showing the total number of SWAT raids and traditional police raids for similar types of arrests where either type of response could have been used.

    Funny, the police don’t seem to publish those data.

    But it’s rather simple. Drugs are winning the drug war. SWAT teams haven’t made a dent. But cost/benefit analysis is for the weak.

  67. Actually, drugs aren’t winning the Drug War (and can’t, of course, being inanimate objects, and all that).

    I’ll tell you who is, though…

    A friend of the family was tagged via a pee test at work awhile ago. He had to go to the classes, do more pee tests, etc. It just so happens he’s high up enough in his company to be privy to the bills for all this. Hint: they ain’t cheap.

    So, the army of police (who, as I pointed out once before on H&R, enjoy cashing that weekly payroll check), counselors, drug test companies… in short, the DRUG WARRIORS are the winners of the War on Drugs. As long as they’re “losing” that is.

    JMJ

  68. Russ wrote, a while back:
    “It’s funny how the same libertarians who believe gun ownership is entirely safe and reasonable, suddenly feel that weapons become more dangerous in the hands of the very people who have the most training on how to use them safely.”
    Fact is, cops are lousy shots. they routinely spray rounds all over creation, hitting each other, houses, cars, bystanders, & once in a while, the target. And SOMETIMES the target is armed! They fire out of panic. They fire blindly. They empty thier Glocks into cocker spaniels. Or guys producing thier wallets, as ordered. Nope. It dont wash.
    Who can ever forget the 150 off rounds fired by cops in a Brooklyn bodega a few years back? One perp. Unhit.
    No, sorry, Russ. While my evidence youll dismiss as “anecdotal” my observation over many years- police work attracts the wrong type, is seriously underpaid, & they are terrible markmen. And certain elements enjoy the excuse to push people around.
    A bunch of years ago- it was during that paragon of human liberty Nixons reign- the Law Enforecment Assistance Administration came to be, showering local PD’s with military equipment & training, to extend Federal influence into local PD’s. The result was an explosion of SWAT like outfits in places where they werent needed, & the slow conversion from noieghborhood cop to Federal thug started. 9/11 put it in overdrive.
    Ive read every comment here, & I appreciate your experiences on boarding parties, & hope you kick in with comments on tactics comes up. But when you justify what happened & utterly disreguard folks comments here- well, you are no Libertarian, caps of lower case. You are an apologist for State excess. For you, the jackboot has precedence over the citizen, who can NEVER be soveriegn, in that world view.
    Fear not: you have enough company here.
    Having said that, it aint personal. We disagree, thats all.
    MUTT, combat veteran.

  69. Masshole sez:

    These are high powered military weapons as you are well aware and have no place being depolyed[sic] when dealing with non-violent situations.

    I’m not a huge fan of militarizing peace officers, but that comment is a poor reflection on your gun-fu. AR15s and MP5s aren’t particularly high powered. Furthermore, most patrolmen are issued M4s now, so the main difference with the SWAT team is level 4 plates and a gas mask. Damn, I suppose I’m going to get flamed now.

  70. MUTT:

    “While my evidence youll dismiss as “anecdotal” my observation over many years- police work attracts the wrong type, is seriously underpaid, & they are terrible markmen”

    Agree entirely. I tend to believe that anyone who REALLY wants to be a police officer should be looked at very skeptically before being awarded the job. Too often it’s a “dominant” personality looking for a badge as authorization to go on a power trip.

    I don’t think they’re necessarily underpaid, but I do think they’re generally poorly trained, and could greatly improve both their marksmanship and trigger discipline, in order to seriously cut down on the haphazard spraying of bullets everywhere.

    “But when you justify what happened & utterly disreguard folks comments here- well, you are no Libertarian, caps of lower case. You are an apologist for State excess. For you, the jackboot has precedence over the citizen, who can NEVER be soveriegn, in that world view.”

    Sorry MUTT, I didn’t “justify what happened”. They messed up the address, were unprofessional, probably caused a lot of physical damage, and should absolutely be held responsible. Not to mention they turned it inotFortunately they didn’t physically harm anyone.

    Nor did I “utterly disregard folks comments”. I’ve read them and responded. I’ve agreed with the vast majority of people’s opinions here. For example: many cops have attitude problems… Screw-ups too often result in cover-ups… SWAT teams aren’t necessary for non-violent suspects… police frequently cause reckless damage… they’ve botched a lot of arrests and caused unnecessary death and injury… the safety of the public ought to be the highest priority… that police should exist only to “serve and protect”… the police and the military have entirely separate roles… etc…

    My only point of disagreement is on the issue of relative safety, as the debate has been lacking in meaningful data. Without data, it’s not possible to answer the following question, around which the whole issue revolves:

    Do SWAT teams really constitute a greater risk to the public? Do they actually result in a higher or lower rate of death or injury than traditional police forces while serving similar arrest warrants?

    If the data prove that SWAT teams pose a greater risk, I’ll be fine with that. I don’t go about ignoring data that contradicts an argument.

    However, if it turns out that the use of (supposedly better-trained) SWAT teams actually reduces the rate of injury or death (or has no significant impact), then would it be reasonable to employ them for serving low-risk arrest warrants, especially if doing so better prepares them to deal with the high-risk situations to which they’re expected to respond?

  71. ellipsis:

    Our MP5’s and handguns (Sig Saur P226’s) fired exactly the same 9mm ammunition. The only differences are that the MP5 is FAR more accurate and can fire in automatic mode (though I personally preferred semi-auto… IMO the “spray and pray” approach is irresponsible and wastes ammunition.)

    The MP5 also has a lower muzzle velocity, which reduces the risk of ricochet.

    My opinion… despite looking scarier, the MP5 is by far the “safer” weapon, in that it has a greater probability of putting rounds precisely where you want them, and not putting them where you don’t want them.

  72. ellipsis,

    OK gun nut. Each of those guns carries a 30 round clip. Way more rounds than any handgun normally carried by a cop. In addition, these rifles are often fully automatic or 3 round burst. Many more rounds will be discharged per pull of the trigger than the glock carried by most cops. And finally, yes an M4 and AR15 are more powerful than the normal 9MM or .40 carried by a cop as they chamber a 5.56mm which is a military round with a much higher muzzle velocity.

    So, the M4 and AR15 are more powerful weapons in both round capacity and muzzle velocity than what a regular cop carries on a daily basis.

    If you want to argue about what people consider high powered (is only a 50 cal high powered to you?) go somewhere else.

    Why don’t you try adding something to the discussion next time instead of trying to be a smartass.

  73. Back onto the original topic…

    Athletics(karate) – Athletics(basketball)
    Lame music (Vegas) – lame music (rap)
    Bad movies – Bad movies
    collect DEA badges – policeman fetish

    All Shaq needs to do now is balloon up to 600 pounds and die taking a shit and his transformation into the black Elvis is complete.

  74. the canadian Navy runs around doing raids on cruise ships because there might be AQ there? Yikes! How Jack Bauer!

    Does this sound effed up to anybody else?

    Can anybody deny that this has messed up Russ R’s thinking pretty bad?

    I also think this is the kind of reason that things aren’t going well in Afghanistan these days. Russ R. ought to be ashamed of what he has done in the name of the Canadian government.

  75. My opinion… despite looking scarier, the MP5 is by far the “safer” weapon, in that it has a greater probability of putting rounds precisely where you want them, and not putting them where you don’t want them.

    In your experience, what is the best gun for killing a pet. I imagine an MP5 could drop a medium dog really quick, but does it have the maneuverability to get a kitten right in the heart?

  76. “It’s funny how the same libertarians who believe gun ownership is entirely safe and reasonable, suddenly feel that weapons become more dangerous in the hands of the very people who have the most training on how to use them safely.” – Russ

    Ah, Russ, arguing that cops are “experts” on firearm safety when they can’t do something simple like land navigation via paved roads isn’t exactly convincing. Sorry I couldn’t think of a less smart-alecky way to put that…

    “The argument being made here against SWAT teams as oppoesed to traditional police forces reminds me of the “assault weapons” ban, in which anti-gun activists targeted a group of weapons that looked scarier and more menacing, despite there being no difference in risk.” – Russ

    I can see where the analogy might seem apt. But perhaps you can explain to me why it’s a good idea for civilian cops to do dynamic entry when they could arrest the guy they are looking for in his driveway, or in his car on the way to work on Monday morning.

    I realize that kicking in someone’s door is just way more “bad-ass” than quietly arresting a suspect without dynamic entry and a carefully coordinated “ballet of violence,” but why put cops in harm’s way like that and unnecessarily endanger other people who might live in the same house? (The suspect’s 15 year old, son, adult wife, etc.)

    For example, doesn’t it just unacceptably increase the risk that they’ll kick in the worst-case scenario wrong door to the wrong house?

    A scenario where the guy who lives there will be one of the large numbers of Americans who 1) keeps a loaded pistol by the bed, and 2) one of the fair nubmers of Americans who practices every weekend at the local gun range using thousands and thousands of rounds so that he can win pistol shooting trophies?

    SWAT kicks in the door of a guy like that and that guy’s liable not to believe it’s really the cops – because he’s a law-abiding citizen who reasonably doesn’t believe the cops would be coming after him – until he’s wiped out half of the county’s SWAT team.

    Especially if the flash-bang grenade bounces back into the hallway outside his bedroom and deafens and blinds the SWAT team instead of the guy who was just trying to get enough sleep to be awake at his “ordinary, average guy” job the next day.

    I’m just sayin’…

  77. “Each of those guns carries a 30 round clip.”

    Apologies for being a pedant, but neither the MP5, M4, AR15, nor any service sidearm carried by police in the US carry a “clip.” The proper term is magazine.

    “Way more rounds than any handgun normally carried by a cop.”

    Capacity has fuck-all to do with relative levels of deadliness.

    “In addition, these rifles are often fully automatic or 3 round burst. Many more rounds will be discharged per pull of the trigger than the glock carried by most cops.”

    A valid point, if only due to attention to mechanical detail.

    “And finally, yes an M4 and AR15 are more powerful than the normal 9MM or .40 carried by a cop as they chamber a 5.56mm which is a military round with a much higher muzzle velocity.”

    So the fact that the 5.56mm round is used by the military makes it more deadly? Golly.

    “So, the M4 and AR15 are more powerful weapons in both round capacity and muzzle velocity than what a regular cop carries on a daily basis.”

    Militarily derived or not, nearly all centerfire rifles are going to have a higher muzzle velocity than any service handgun.

    “If you want to argue about what people consider high powered (is only a 50 cal high powered to you?) go somewhere else.”

    Why? It’s a perfectly rational discussion to have. Most people judge a rifle to be “high-powered” if it looks scary. You almost never see the term applied to Grandpa’s hunting rifle, despite the fact that my chronograph shows the average hunting rifle to be much more powerful than the most common military arms.

  78. Oh, and just to add fuel to the fire:

    “Gunsite is now teaching the use of the machine pistol, or “submachine gun.” We never taught the machine pistol here at Gunsite when I was in charge, for various reasons. In my opinion, it is a slob’s weapon, useful only by half-trained or poorly motivated troops.”

    -Jeff Cooper

  79. The training level of the officers isn’t the issue, Russ. It’s whether risk to the public increases when you send a SWAT unit to kick the door down, hold everyone at gunpoint in a surprise raid as opposed to sending a few officers to pick someone up on the street or ring their doorbell. I would say the former undoubtedly increases the chance of someone being killed.

    Exactly. If you think somebody is dangerous, is it better to enter a house, where he can hide and he has the advantage of familiarity, or is it better to surprise him outside, where you can surround him? I’m no tactical expert, but common sense suggests that the safest way to do an arrest is to wait for him to go outside, and that kicking down the door should only be done when there’s reason to believe that an innocent life is in danger and a raid is the only way to save that person.

    If that’s the case, wouldn’t a police chief who ordered his cops to raid a house unnecessarily be delinquent in his duty to protect the lives of the people under his command?

  80. Most people judge a rifle to be “high-powered” if it looks scary. You almost never see the term applied to Grandpa’s hunting rifle, despite the fact that my chronograph shows the average hunting rifle to be much more powerful than the most common military arms.

    I know nothing about rifles, but I would guess that if it can drop a moose at long range it can easily kill a human at short range. Am I right?

  81. “If you think somebody is dangerous, is it better to enter a house, where he can hide and he has the advantage of familiarity, or is it better to surprise him outside,…

    You mean outside, in public, where one might reasonably expect to find other people going about their business, unaware that they might suddenly become a backdrop to the possibility of flying bullets as a potentially armed suspect is being taken into custody?

    “where you can surround him? I’m no tactical expert,…”

    Obviously not. Bodies don’t always stop bullets. You have to be sure that there’s nothing that you wouldn’t want to hit either in front of, or behind, your target. When you surround a suspect you have no safe firing arc.

  82. “In your experience, what is the best gun for killing a pet.

    I don’t keep either guns or pets in my house, so I have no specific expertise on the matter.

    But theoretically speaking, the answer would depend on three things: what size is the pet, how fast does it move, and from what range are you shooting?

    As for boarding civilian vessels in the Persian Gulf to look for AQ/Taliban… I thought it was pretty “effed up” too.

    Now that I’m no longer in the military, I think I’m allowed to express that opinion publicly.

  83. You should express it more often. It is a more important contribution than the things you actually do say.

  84. Russ-

    Thank you for explaining that.

  85. “Bodies don’t always stop bullets.” – Russ

    Actually, a body is better at stopping rounds than building materials.

    If you mean that there’s a chance that an accurately fired round may go into a suspect, over-penetrate, and then hit someone you don’t intend it to, well, there is a CHANCE of that.

    However, it’s a lot greater chance that an inaccurate round (fired in a low-light dynamic entry situation complete with flash-bang smoke and four bedroom walls obscuring what is on the other side of them) will punch through building materials and injure an innocent person.

    All the more reason to avoid dynamic entry situations, in my opinion, and here’s why:

    Basic ballistics reveals that most handgun rounds will penetrate building materials, though they often won’t penetrate through to the other side of a human body.

    (For more info regarding round penetratation see
    http://www.theboxotruth.com/)

    Knowing this, I think it should be pointed out that if you’re firing the sort of round that won’t be stopped by accurately firing it into the body of a suspect, then a missed shot will definitely go through the average drywall and stucco of a suburban house. (A meth lab at a trailer home is even worse – the rounds will probably punch through three or four poor family’s trailers unless they are stopped by someone’s body, not to mention a fired round could cause an explosion at certain times during the manufacturing process.)

    So where’s the tactical advantage to not being able to see what’s on the other side of the wall?
    None.

    What protection does surrounding a shoot-out with drywall offer innocent civilians?
    None.

    Which is why dynamic entry just doesn’t make sense in any scenario other than a hostage crisis gone VERY wrong.

    “You have to be sure that there’s nothing that you wouldn’t want to hit either in front of, or behind, your target.” – Russ

    Exactly! The average pistol round will punch through probably 6 to 8 layers of drywall.

    How do you know what’s on the other side of a wall you can’t see through?
    You can’t.

    How can you know it’s safe to shoot at a bad guy without killing a baby in its crib on the other side of the wall you can’t see through but the round will penetrate?
    You can’t.

    So it’s FAR better tactics to engage a suspect considered to be dangerous in the open than in a home or other structure. Even more importantly, it’s important to hit what you’re shooting at and to know what is in front of the target and behind the target. Which is why it’s better for innocent civilians for such an engagement to take place where cops can see what’s actually in front of and behind the target.

    Russ, I am open to anything you have to say on the subject, and I think you’re a fair and reasonable guy. I say this because I don’t want you to take what I’m about to say the wrong way…

    I’m not trying to insult you, but I think that your experience boarding ships in the ocean as part of a military outfit has given you an odd perspective on the utility of similar tactics against civilian suspects in areas densely populated by innocent civilians.

  86. Jeez, what is with the douchery on this thread?

    Listen MediaGeek, your points are silly:

    1. Clip vs. Magazine – Excuse the fuck out of me.

    2. Capacity does have “fuck all” do to with deadliness. Last time I checked, the more rounds fired, the more likely someone gets hurt. Maybe math works different for you. In addition, I’m not talking about knock-down power or some other crap I’m sure you have memorized through your subscription to guns and ammo.

    3. “Militarily derived or not, nearly all centerfire rifles are going to have a higher muzzle velocity than any service handgun.” No shit sherlock. That’s what I said. My .30-30 has more knock down power than a 5.56, but it’s gonna be tough for me to put 20 rnds in you since it’s a lever action. You once again made no point and are acting like a jerk.

  87. Masshole – mediageek does have a point, and so do you, but you two are mostly talking past each other.

    It’s a standard mistake made by folks with little experience regarding firearms to say “clip” when they mean “mag.” While I agree it’s a small point, being incorrect on the terminology doesn’t make you look like more of an expert on the subject.

    HOWEVER, your argument that the ability to fire 3-round bursts from a larger-capacity magazine makes the MP-5, AR-15, M-4, etc. capable of firing more rounds more quickly in a less-discriminate fashion. I’d argue that there is essentially no need whatsoever for a civilian SWAT team to carry a weapon capable of firing on burst. It just increases the odds that they’ll miss 2 out of 3 times. “3-round burst” is for suppressive fire against enemy combatants. It’s not useful in arresting civilian criminal suspects.

    Or as you put it, “Last time I checked, the more rounds fired, the more likely someone gets hurt.”

    But mediageek is also correct when he points out that “Capacity has fuck-all to do with relative levels of deadliness.”

    It’s the guy pulling the trigger accurately or inaccurately that really determines whether he is a rightful danger to a criminal in a gunfight or whether he’s a wrongful danger to innocent civilians.

    “Jeez, what is with the douchery on this thread?” – Masshole

    That comment makes me wonder if you mis-spelled your screen name by adding an “M.”

  88. rob:

    I agree with absolutely everything you’ve written. It’s refreshing to come across people who can still think logically and not get swept up in the “militarized jack-booted thugs terrorizing and endangering the public” hysteria.

    For my team… the absolute LAST thing we wanted to have to do was go into a dark compartment we weren’t familiar with, to root out someone who could have a gun covering our only access route.

    In an ideal world, every arrest site would be either encased in concrete and bulletproof glass, or in a wide open area with nowhere to hide and no bystanders within range of the firearms. Unfortunately neither situation is ever likely.

    From my perspective, when choosing a venue for arresting a suspect who might be dangerous, you want to control as many variables as possible, and have the least probability of the unexpected.

    Trying to spring a trap on someone while out in public involves a lot of unknowns. Examples include when the suspect will arrive, whether or not he will be exactly where you want him, how many other bystanders might be around at that point in time, the possibility that he might become aware of your presence before you have a chance to make the arrest, that he might not even follow the expected route, etc…

    To my thinking, an arrest in a home at around 4am reduces the number of uncertainties tremendously. The suspect is most likely to be in bed, unprepared to respond, and there isn’t likely to be anyone else around besides household residents that you should already know about. Finally, this approach gives you total control over the issue of timing and the element of surpise.

    I’d be truly interested to compare historical stats on different styles of arrests to see which ones had the lowest probability of injuries or deaths, and the least likelihood of any rounds being fired. My wager is that the “4 o’clock knock” method would be the safest.

  89. Russ – Thanks for the honest response. I think we agree on tactical principles, and that you bring up some very good points.

    “In an ideal world, every arrest site would be either encased in concrete and bulletproof glass, or in a wide open area with nowhere to hide and no bystanders within range of the firearms. Unfortunately neither situation is ever likely.” – Russ

    Amen to that. I agree with you that, sadly, the world is rarely even a remotely safe place.

    “From my perspective, when choosing a venue for arresting a suspect who might be dangerous, you want to control as many variables as possible, and have the least probability of the unexpected.” – Russ

    100% sound tactical principles.

    “Trying to spring a trap on someone while out in public involves a lot of unknowns.” – Russ

    I totally agree.

    “Examples include when the suspect will arrive, whether or not he will be exactly where you want him, how many other bystanders might be around at that point in time, the possibility that he might become aware of your presence before you have a chance to make the arrest, that he might not even follow the expected route, etc…” – Russ

    Here I’d disagree. Waiting for the guy to walk out to his vehicle gives you tactical advantages that kicking in doors simply doesn’t: you can see him, what’s around him (what’s in fornt or behind him), and whether he’s carrying a weapon more potent than a pistol or knife. It also lets you gauge pretty accurately whether he’s got back-up shooters who might come to his aid.

    “The suspect is most likely to be in bed, unprepared to respond, and there isn’t likely to be anyone else around besides household residents that you should already know about.”

    If you think you can determine with certainty that a meth-head is asleep at 4 a.m… Well, you’ll have to get very close to the house to do so. Criminals often don’t sleep for days or sleep at odd times. (Also, for the sake of libertarian purity, let’s assume the guy is being arrested for murder or something not just as part of the “War On Drugs.”)

    “The suspect is most likely to be in bed, unprepared to respond, and there isn’t likely to be anyone else around besides household residents that you should already know about. Finally, this approach gives you total control over the issue of timing and the element of surpise.” – Russ

    If the average citizen is capable of shooting a cop by mistake, as has been recently discussed on Hit and Run, I think it’s a safe bet that an actual criminal is even more dangerous when cornered on his home turf.

    “I’d be truly interested to compare historical stats on different styles of arrests to see which ones had the lowest probability of injuries or deaths, and the least likelihood of any rounds being fired.” – Russ

    I would too. But tactics aside, and on principle alone, it seems to me that a military-style SWAT dynamic entry scenario is not the way to handle the apprehension of a civilian criminal suspect. In other words, serving warrants and arresting people like that seems wrong on principle to me because the only situation that such an extreme use of force would be reasonable is to prevent a violent crime – for example, a hostage crisis scenario.

    “My wager is that the ‘4 o’clock knock’ method would be the safest.” – Russ

    I’m not sure about that… I think that force tends to be met with force. In the overwhelming majority of no-knock warrants that are served, I’d guess that all it would actually take is a couple of cops knocking on a door.

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