Militarization of Police

The Drug Raid Paradox

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Police in Jackson, Mississippi raided a suspected drug dealer last week. The raid degenerated into a shootout while the suspect's girlfriend and her five-year-old daughter huddled in a bedroom. While it appears the raid was on the correct house, and the suspect himself is a legitimately scary dude, the shootout only reinforces a point I made after the Lima, Ohio raid earlier this month that killed a mother of six and wounded a one-year-old boy: Why create violence if it isn't necessary? Couldn't Jackson police have apprehended "Poo" Jones as he was coming or going?

Here's their explanation:

The police showed up at Jones' house about 3:30 a.m., armed with a search warrant allowing them to look for drugs.

Police said they often choose middle-of-the-night raids so they can safely "catch 'em sleeping."

That's immediately followed by…

When the police entered Jones' house, they clearly identified themselves, Sampson said.

Which is when Jones, according to police, came out of the short hallway that leads to the bedrooms and fired at them with a .45-caliber handgun.

If the purpose was to catch a dangerous criminal while he was sleeping, why would police clearly identify themselves upon entering?

This is a common refrain from police in drug raids that turn into shootouts—be it with actual criminals, or with innocent people whose homes were wrongly raided. The middle-of-the-night timing, concussion grenades, and door-busting tactics are necessary, we're told, to catch dangerous people by surprise. But when surprised suspects then mistake police for intruding criminals, we're told that the suspects had to have known the intruders were police. Put another way, we're told these tactics are necessary to bewilder and confuse, but when people say they were genuinely bewildered and confused, we're told to assume they're lying. Should police find actual drugs in the home, no matter how small an amount (see Cory Maye), you can forget about the "I didn't know" defense entirely.

By the same token, when police mistakenly shoot unarmed people in these raids, they're generally forgiven, due, they say, to the inherent volatility and dangerous nature of the raids.

Paradoxes and double standards abound.

Also, no word on whether Jackson' crazy-ass mayor went along on this particular raid.

NEXT: Selling Jenna

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  1. I wonder what the police would want people to do when they come barging in. Just lay down on the floor?

  2. They have an ass mayor?

    What responsibilities does that entail?

  3. Couldn’t Jackson police have apprehended “Poo” Jones as he was coming or going?

    To the bathroom? Sorry, someone had to say it.

  4. If Poo Jones was the target, the ass mayor certainly should have been all over that shit.

  5. ‘Poo’ is a priceless nickname.

    What also confuses me is how multiple body armor-and-automatic firearm wielding, supposedly highly trained special police officers can bust into a house with flash-bangs and overwhelming force, and then be repelled by a surprised, confused, just woken dude in his boxers with a .45.

    If the whole point of such a raid is to shut somebody down immediately, why does it never seem to work unless the people are weaponless?

    Are they really this cowardly or incompetent? I have trouble believing that if a group of Marines breaks into a house in Iraq and gets shot at by one sleepy guy with a pistol, they don’t just put him down instantly. I’m not saying I want the police to do that, just drawing a comparison of effectiveness. Because if they can’t do this properly, why do it at all?

  6. Why create violence if it isn’t necessary?

    If you catch ’em coming or going, you only have one or two things to charge them with. Bust into their homes in the middle of the night, and you will probably get some kind of resistance which immediately produces another dozen or so possible charges on them. One of them is bound to stick.

    It ain’t about safety, it’s about producing numbers of convictions. That is the basis of which police and prosecutor promotions and additional funding are given. A wounded LEO is bound to improve the chances of conviction, thus the reason for announcement.

    Yes, it’s a totally fucked up compensation scheme, but that is why.

  7. Why raid at night?
    Two words: budget maximization.

  8. If they wanted to catch street dealers sleeping, wouldn’t they “knock” on the door sometime between 6 a.m. and noon? Those guys are out selling at night, aren’t they?

    Kevin

  9. “Couldn’t Jackson police have apprehended “Poo” Jones as he was coming or going?”

    No, the proliferation of SWAT team usage is to harrass, inflame, degrade, provoke and to preserve the precious evidence which is way more important than dogs, kids and mothers. People just get in the way of a good war. If someone happens to believe he is being invaded by thugs when SWAT acts, well that assumption is correct. You’re options are limited at that point, either submit or die.

    Given the example of Waco, when people are ready for the show LEOs want to put on, they get a stand off rather than jackboots on their backs and obscenities screamed at their family members.

  10. One of them is bound to stick.

    Overwork the public defender and they’ll either screw up the defense on at least one charge or they’ll have to pick and choose which cases to defend and which to bargain on. And if the defendant chooses a private attorney. the numerous charges just makes the legal defense bill so large they’ll accept a plea.

    The process has become the punishment.

  11. “Poo” Jones?? How much of “a legitimately scary dude” can he be with a nickname like that? Perhaps he should think of a new one before he gets to the joint. Granted it’s not as bad as “scooter” but when it comes time to meet his cell-mate “icepick” it might make for an awkward introduction.

  12. “Are they really this cowardly or incompetent?”

    Given the example of the SWAT teams during Columbine, I would say yes to both. SWAT was hiding behind firetrucks while kids were being killed. They were and are very concerned about their own safety, even when scared and innocent people are involved and being killed. I see most police as bureaucrats with guns.

  13. “Poo” Jones?? How much of “a legitimately scary dude” can he be with a nickname like that?

    Did you see the picture of him? Think a huge(er) Forrest Whitaker during his most insane moments in season 5 of The Shield, replete with the lazy eye and everything.

  14. zig zag, that’s what I figure; but it’s amazing that in a case where they have everything to their advantage, any resistance (unless it’s an 81 year old woman with a rusty pistol) seems to blow their whole raid out of the water. At Columbine, they at least didn’t know exactly what they were up against (though I agree they still acted like cowards).

    What I am dreading is when Marines and Army people come back from Iraq and start joining the police force. These raids might get a lot more efficient, seeing as they have the experience and probably much bigger balls.

    I see most police as bureaucrats with guns.

    That is a very accurate way to describe them.

  15. Couldn’t Jackson police have apprehended “Poo” Jones as he was coming or going?

    Of course they could. The fact that these high-stakes SWAT raids are even occurring are ridiculous. The cops themselves are creating the stakes. Think about it. The cops are choosing to take these guys down in their castle. A territory which the “perp” is most familiar with, has territorial advantage, and has an unknown amount of defense hardware at his disposal.

    As me where I’d most likely to be confronted with violence? Standing on the street corner with my hands in my pockets, unarmed, waiting with my five-year-old, or while I’m at home, watching TV, with several high caliber firearms near to my person?

    . Put another way, we’re told these tactics are necessary to bewilder and confuse, but when people say they were genuinely bewildered and confused, we’re told to assume they’re lying.

    Or put yet another way, which is it a’gonna be, young feller? If’n I’m bewildered’n confused, I can’t rightly know what was goin’ on, if I a’knew what was a’goin’ on, I can’t rightly be bewildered’n confused.

  16. I see most police as bureaucrats with guns.

    According to some, these are the only “people” with the right to bear them. Owowow, it only hurts when I laugh.

  17. What I am dreading is when Marines and Army people come back from Iraq and start joining the police force.

    Didn’t Reason do a thingy…blogpost, article where they found the problem has been the opposite? The police have been joining force in Iraq and creating havoc?

  18. Not to be overly cynical, but isn’t it possible some SWAT teams have decided that by ratcheting up the potential for violence they maximize the potential to be judge, jury and excecutioner all in one?
    Maybe they don’t say it out loud, but somewhere in the back of their minds they could be thinking “If the perp gets ugly, we’ll just put him down right there and that’ll be that.”

  19. I suppose it’s illegal to fortify your home against this sort of thing. Or would it just be seen as escalation and justification for a wrecking ball approach by the SWAT force? Maybe I’ll just go the Home Alone route with icy steps, falling irons, swinging paint cans and red hot door handles.

  20. Paul,

    Yep, that was Radley Balko himself, talking of the book “Generation Kill”.

  21. Instead of shit say poo, as in “bull poo”, “poo head” and “this poo is cold.”

  22. Not to be overly cynical, but isn’t it possible some SWAT teams have decided that by ratcheting up the potential for violence they maximize the potential to be judge, jury and excecutioner all in one?

    Once again, a crappy Sylvester Stallone movie proves to be a good prognostication…

  23. “If the perp gets ugly, we’ll just put him down right there and that’ll be that.”

    That saves a lot of time in court and who knows, you may get some administrative leave for psychological reasons.

    “Oh, I’m a victim, I broke into someone’s home and he / she defended him / herself. So I put a cap in him / her.” “Boo Hoo.”

    Sometimes I feel like they are crying crocodile tears and counting their 30 pieces of silver. If they truly believed they were protecting us from evil rather than executing citizens, and stomping the constitution to dust, maybe they wouldn’t have such a heavy conscience.

  24. Maybe I’ll just go the Home Alone route with icy steps, falling irons, swinging paint cans and red hot door handles.

    Good idea, until I get stoned and forget about all the stuff. I was in the hospital for weeks last time this happened…

  25. I’d always wondered about that. If a homeowner chose to fortify the heck out of his/her house (I don’t know what building codes would cover this, but I doubt it’s illegal), what would the police do? They’ve got a search warrant, but if they can’t physically enter the building…?
    I’m sure they’d get in eventually, but it would provide you time to get dressed, contact your lawyer and get a bunch of news crews out to your place before surrendering.

  26. “Instead of shit say poo, as in “bull poo”, “poo head” and “this poo is cold.”

    Still laughing…

  27. “Oh, I’m a victim, I broke into someone’s home and he / she defended him / herself. So I put a cap in him / her.” “Boo Hoo.”

    Don’t you mean “Poo who?”

  28. “…So I walked into that cold dark place
    Little Elvis drawn and ready for action
    I too was ready –
    Ready for the moment when I would be a real American…”

  29. Ready for the moment when I would be a real American…”

    So you bought bigger clothes and gained fifty pounds?

  30. “Poo” Jones?? How much of “a legitimately scary dude” can he be with a nickname like that?

    Baby Face Nelson disagrees with your premise.

  31. “””What I am dreading is when Marines and Army people come back from Iraq and start joining the police force.”””

    Many of the reservists are police.

    Yes, Reason did a piece about reservist cops in Iraq.

    “””I suppose it’s illegal to fortify your home against this sort of thing. Or would it just be seen as escalation and justification for a wrecking ball approach by the SWAT force? “”””

    I spoke of what happened when the NYC ESU tried to raid the NYC Hell’s Angels building in the Kenneth Jamar thread. Here’s the link
    https://www.reason.com/blog/show/124261.html

    I would guess that once private citizens starting reinforcing their house, states would try to forbid it. I think that would be hard for them to do being you have a right to prevent intruders.

  32. 3M makes a plastic coating for windows that makes them much more impact resistant than regular tempered glass.

    Reinforced doors and frames are, I imagine, available at Home Depot, or if not there, at some boutique shop that caters to the healthily paranoid.

  33. “Reinforced doors and frames are, I imagine, available at Home Depot, or if not there, at some boutique shop that caters to the healthily paranoid.

    I imagine that anything a citizen could do to “harden” his castle would likely be defeated by determined jackboots with knowledge and use of door breaching charges, battering rams, winches and placement of nuisances like tear gas at air intakes.

  34. I would guess that once private citizens starting reinforcing their house, states would try to forbid it. I think that would be hard for them to do being you have a right to prevent intruders.

    I seem to remember some city years ago trying to ban folks in a high-crime neighborhood from installing those heavy screen doors with the burglar bars on them. I think they made no bones about it, too, and said it would make it harder for police to kick in doors with them in place.

  35. IMHO, the best defense woulf be a hardened, hidden “panic room”. So if the jackboots get inside after token resistance to keep them from being suscpicious, they won’t find anyone inside.

  36. In the movie Burglar, Whoopi Goldberg made a sandwich while the police tried to get into her reinforced apartment.

    If I had a micro-wave gun (used for crowd control) I would have it mounted at the end of the hall. That would delay them for a while as well.

  37. I have to vote for a moat filled with sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads. Everyone is scared of sharks, and when the cops shoot them it’s not like when they shoot your dog.

  38. As soon as you hear “POLICE!” (which you won’t, because they don’t say it) or see a jacket marked SWAT, your life is over anyway, so if you’re the type who’s likely to get raided, rig your place with explosives, sleep with the button, and have a last good night.

    I’ll pay for your funeral.

  39. I think that would be hard for them to do being you have a right to prevent intruders.

    They’ve already kicked your right to defend yourself in the nads, so I doubt this will cause much problem.

  40. “…micro-wave gun…”

    So, maybe we could get ill tempered Sea Bass with micro-wave guns attached to their freakin’ heads. Ding! SWAT’s done!

  41. 3M makes a plastic coating for windows that makes them much more impact resistant than regular tempered glass.

    Reinforced doors and frames are, I imagine, available at Home Depot, or if not there, at some boutique shop that caters to the healthily paranoid.

    I’m thinking of using poured concrete instead of a wood frame, 3M film on the windows (and maybe hurricane shutters when away on trips), and hiring a safe installer to build/install the doors.

    Against non-LEO thugs the 3M film and a beefier door would be sufficient, but those LEO thugs attack with the finest weapons my tax money can buy.

  42. Hardening your home:

    One of many companies that has specialty doors-
    http://www.stilesdoors.com/doors.html

    Windows and doors-
    http://www.swissshade.com/fauser_security_windows.htm

    I would love to harden my house… in case of zombie attack

  43. I would love to harden my house… in case of zombie attack

    Better have a steady food source. Zeke has nothing but time.

  44. Just wish the U.S. would keep their damn War on Drugs local. Today the DEA reached agreement for Canadian Prince of Pot Marc Emery to serve five years in a Canadian jail rather than be shipped to the American gulag. And for what? Selling seeds that would get him a $200 fine in Canada. The DEA has offices in cities all round Canada telling our local law enforcement how to carry out the WoDs.

    http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=12d892dd-4d9c-41c2-89d7-098d16bf6d89

  45. “…So I walked into that cold dark place
    Little Elvis drawn and ready for action
    I too was ready –
    Ready for the moment when I would be a real American…”

    Yes! A Real American!
    The usual references to South Park are to be expected-
    but the Dead Milkmen? A rare gem, indeed.

  46. LOL! If I were a drug dealer…. I’d build a secret room that I slept in at night, fortified & with an escape route. Along with an alarm that is triggered when someone enters my front/back doorway. Let them bust in, screaming, throwing flashbangs, pointing weapons around…. only to find a seemingly empty house.

  47. If you’re really serious about hardening your house, I suggest Jeff Cooper’s Notes on Tactical Residential Architecture, easily found via Google. I’m paranoid enough to have seriously considered it, but I’m not yet at the point where I can afford to build from the ground up.

  48. Kent in Soviet Kanuckistan | January 14, 2008, 9:47pm | #

    There’s a passage in the article you linked that I find rather telling.

    Canadian police grew so frustrated that neither prosecutors nor the courts would lock up Emery and throw away the key, they urged their U.S. counterparts to do the dirty work. And that’s what’s wrong.

  49. “””Just wish the U.S. would keep their damn War on Drugs local.”””

    The FBI wants to be the de facto LEO for the world.

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