War on Drugs

LAPD Has a "Wrong Door" Team to Fix Botched SWAT Raids


On the one hand, I guess it's a plus that they at least repair the damage they do to innocent people's homes. That's more than can be said for many police departments across the country.

On the other hand, it's unfortunate that mistaken raids happen often enough that they'd need one.  The fact that there's a permanent unit in place to deal with wrong-door raids (and the reporter's seeming nonchalance about it all) suggests that we've reached to the point where innocent people occasionally getting terrorized—and should they have the temerity to reach for a gun to defend themselves—possibly killed, is basically an understood and accepted consequence of fighting the drug war. That's pretty unsettling.

Note also that the article says there were at least eight wrong-door raids in L.A. last year. I don't remember reading about any of them—and I get Google News alerts, Lexis notifications, and reader emails just about any time a botched raid makes the news. More evidence that these raids are hitting the wrong house far more often than is reported in newspapers.

Incidentally, something similar happened in New York City in the late 1990s. Civil rights groups were becoming increasingly concerned about the number of botched raids showing up in the city's newspapers. NYPD insisted that "wrong door" raids almost never happened—until an internal memo was leaked that instructed officers how to quietly notify repair men and locksmiths to fix busted doors. The wrong-door death of Alberta Spruill in 2003 sparked promises of reform, but within a few years it was back to business as usual.

Thanks to Mike Lombino for the link.