Militarization of Police

Another Day, Another Drug Raid Death

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Over the weekend, police in Connecticut broke through windows and deployed flash grenades while conducting a drug rain on a home in Connecticut. Gonazalo Guizan, 33, who was visiting and didn't live at the house, charged at the raiding officers, unarmed. The police shot him dead.

Early reports don't say much about Guizan, though in this comment thread, friends and family say he wasn't a drug dealer, wasn't violent, and wasn't a criminal. I suppose it's possible that an unarmed man would knowingly charge a team of raiding police officers. But I think the far more likely explanation is that he thought the place was being robbed.

We don't yet have details as to why the police felt it necessary to shoot Guizan, other than that he charged at them. I suspect the shooting itself will be ruled justified, as it probably should be. The question is why the paramilitary tactics were necessary in the first place, and whether yet another person has now paid with his life for the very reasonable mistake of confusing invading police officers with invading criminals.

The owner of the house was charged with possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Which means there weren't enough drugs in the place to charge him with distribution. He was released on $10,000 bond.

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  1. *sigh*

  2. I suspect the shooting itself will be ruled justified, as it probably should be.

    A group of heavily armed, armored and (for the sake of argument) trained men are justified in gunning down an unarmed man because he “charged” at them? Is it reasonable to say that these men reasonably feared for the their lives or safety?

  3. I wonder at what point it was that one politician turned to another and said “You know what would be good? Let’s wage war against our own citizens!” and that it actually sounded like a good enough idea to implement.

  4. I can’t even find mention of this on the Hartford Courant’s web site. Was it a state police operation or just Easton police? Easton is a rich town.

  5. R C,

    I wonder how long it takes to get the smell of urine off of that body armor?

  6. Radley,I’m not sure it sould be justified.Force should be projected in proportion to the threat.An unarmed man charging several police officers is not a mortal threat.I believe they have training in hand to hand fighting and the numbers were in ther favor.I’ve taken several combat arms courses over the years and shooting a unarmed person,even in your home,was considered a ticket to prison.

  7. I suspect the shooting itself will be ruled justified, as it probably should be.

    Standard Libertarian Procedure. The victim was an unnarmed brown man, so killing him is justified. If he had been an illegally-armed pedophile who’d killed four men and took children hostage, a scratch on his pale skin would inspire libertarian outrage for decades.

  8. Edward, is that you?

  9. I believe they have training in hand to hand fighting and the numbers were in ther favor.

    I thought they were also trained to shoot to stop, not shoot to kill, unless lethal force was obviously present?

    Anyhow, another tick in the drug war body count. sigh…

  10. An unarmed man charging several police officers is not a mortal threat.

    See, what I’m pining for is the ruling that says a *cop* who busts into your house is ipso facto a mortal threat. After all, it seems that the evidence bears it out.

    A dead man cannot appeal his grievances to a court. Cause he’s dead. Shoot heavily armed and armored intruders first, ask questions later.

  11. I am assuming that no illegal firearms were discovered as well.
    The new professionalism, unverified tip, send in the amped up, Possibly well trained, SWAT team.
    Fuck. Just fuck.

  12. Here’s a case where the cops were probably justified once in the situation. Of course whether they were justified being in the situation at all is the question no one but Radley seems to ask on a regular basis. So if you want to put a stop to this sort of thing, don’t argue that the cops did the wrong thing in there, argue that the state did the wrong thing by putting them in there where they even had to decide what to do. In the thick of things they probably had no way of knowing whether he was armed or not, so I can see it being justified, but it was eminently preventable anyway.

    Far too often the response on H&R is “shoot the pigs: it’s their fault” (to paraphrase a bit). You can argue about collaboration with the state, etc., etc., but for the most part the cops are trying to do their job and believe in what they’re doing. The solution isn’t to shoot them or villify them, but rather to change their job so it doesn’t involve these sorts of situations. Some of the H&R commenters don’t seem to have the reading skills to realize that Balko is playing a delicate game here and constantly points to the problem with the system, not the people (although he’ll go after them when there’s evidence to warrant it). But all it takes is a few intemperate yappers on this and other sites to convince most people that libertarians hate cops. A case of your friend being your worst enemy.

  13. Morals of the story…

    1. If you are unarmed, don’t try to take on armed attackers. Odds are very good you’ll wind up on the losing end.

    2. If you are armed, don’t try to take on armed attackers if they outnumber you. You might consider it only if you’ve got decent cover, and can get off a few aimed shots before they can locate you.

    3. If you are armed, and evenly matched, don’t try to take on someone who will have no qualms about killing you, unless you are sure you can kill him/her first.

    4. Under any circumstances, don’t try to take on cops, because: a) they will definitely be armed, b) they will probably outnumber you, and c) they will have absolutely no qualms about killing you, and claiming it was justifiable self-defence.

  14. Untermensch — Thanks for posting, so I don’t have to. I’m saying the shooting will be legally justified, not morally justified.

    As for the comment at 10:22, you’re spot-on. I hate brown people. Such is why my work focuses entirely on white people who have been victimized by the drug war.

  15. Under any circumstances, don’t try to take on cops, because: a) they will definitely be armed, b) they will probably outnumber you, and c) they will have absolutely no qualms about killing you, and claiming it was justifiable self-defence.

    And for fuck’s sake, don’t be a dark color!

  16. but for the most part the cops are trying to do their job and believe in what they’re doing

    Spare us the cop defense. When rogue cops are actually restrained by their fellow cops, then you can bleat on about “trying to do their job”; unless, of course, their job description includes allowing fellow cops to commit crimes that they’d arrest the rest of us for. Because they’re certainly doing that.

  17. Under any circumstances, don’t try to take on cops

    No, the moral is don’t take on ANYBODY, because if he turns out to be a cop you’re screwed. That scruffy-looking dangerous man following you home in the middle of the night? Better assume he’s an undercover agent. Those shapeless thugs breaking into your home? Assume they’re cops. Don’t even think about defending yourself against anybody.

  18. I thought they were also trained to shoot to stop, not shoot to kill, unless lethal force was obviously present?

    When I was in 5th grade, I attended an inner city school (my life, a rich full oyster). Anyway, the powers that be decided they’d have a show ‘n tell cop day, and the officer that came in to talk to the class emphasized that there was no distinction between “shoot to kill” and “shoot to stop” except that the second option generally involves *more* bullets.

  19. Unermensch,I agree,the las need changed.Still,using deadly force on a unarmed man is over the line.They are trained to stop the threat and that means shooting at the torso,mostly the chest.I have a .357 and have always been told if I use it there better be a weapon in the guys hands or more than one attacker.At home I keep a 12 gauge 3 inch shot gun.Luckily I’ve never needed either,but I know when I am allowed to use them.A office should be held to the same standard of harm to himself or others.I know this because to of my hunting friends are deputy sheriffs.

  20. If anything, we need a reverse castle doctrine – it is never justified to shoot someone in their own home.

    If you are in someone else’s home and feel threatened, you have an absolute duty to retreat.

    The only exception might be defense of others, such as someone who is holding hostages in his own home.

  21. If anything, we need a reverse castle doctrine – it is never justified to shoot someone in their own home.

    If you are in someone else’s home and feel threatened, you have an absolute duty to retreat.

    I like the way you think, sir, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter!

  22. I wonder at what point it was that one politician turned to another and said “You know what would be good? Let’s wage war against our own citizens!” and that it actually sounded like a good enough idea to implement.

    That’s not what happened. Have you ever heard “the ends justify the means?” What’s happening with law enforcement, I think, is a perversion of that idea: the means eventually became so important than the ends were forgotten altogether.

    It’s like this: in theory, cops are/were supposed to “protect and serve” the populace, right? And of course they need certain authority to do this; that’s why, even if cops were honorable and decent, attacking a guy in uniform would generally be considered a worse offense than attacking any random person.

    But eventually that morphed from “cops get special privileges in the name of protecting and serving the people” to just “cops get special privileges, period.” There’s no way any of us could, for example, fire 41 shots at an unarmed man standing in a doorway, and then get off scot-free by saying “Oops, well, I was really really scared at the time and I thought there was a maybe possibility that he had a gun.”

  23. I suppose it’s possible that an unarmed man would knowingly charge a team of raiding police officers. But I think the far more likely explanation is that he thought the place was being robbed.

    I think it’s just as likely that he was disoriented, was still dazzled by the flash so he couldn’t see well, thought the house was blowing up, and was trying to get out the door they were coming in.

    I thought they were also trained to shoot to stop, not shoot to kill, unless lethal force was obviously present?

    “Shoot to stop” means to shoot at the largest part of the threat you can hit until it ceases to be a threat. Given several heavily-armed officers each shooting to stop at inside-the-house ranges survival of the “threat” is rather unlikely.

    Law enforcement training is supposed to be not to shoot unless the threat has both the intent and the capability to inflict deadly force. However SWAT raids don’t involve enough time to respond intelligently to the developing situation. As the police enter they will be unthinkingly reacting according to the scenarios they rehearsed in training.

    And for fuck’s sake, don’t be a dark color!

    While skin tone may have contributed to the planning and obtaining-the-warrant decisions about where and when the raid took place, once the door gets busted the only two colors are “cop” and “everyone else.”

  24. I cannot wait until people develop working stun guns. That way the person they hit will be able to give testimony about what happened (and he won’t be dead).

  25. Anyone who uses a gun to protect themselves should use the term ‘shoot to stop’.Shoot to kill infers malice and can be used against you in court.Of course you are aiming for the chest and death could be the result.

  26. …that’s why, even if cops were honorable and decent, attacking a guy in uniform would generally be considered a worse offense than attacking any random person.

    This, right here, is the root of the problem: the fundamental notion that protecting a police officer’s life is somehow more important that protecting civilians’ lives.

  27. The only exception might be defense of others, such as someone who is holding hostages in his own home.

    Unfortunately the police seem to believe they are acting in defense of all the the drug pusher’s “victims”. Hence no level of force is too extreme.

    Until this mentality is changed these events will continue to happen.

    And while I agree that much of this has to do with the policy makers, there is still a sense of a “blue” privilege that will not be changed without some serious changes in individual officers’ outlooks as well as in the leadership. After all, most police chiefs and commanders ordering these raids came up through the ranks and they aquired their attitudes there.

  28. This, right here, is the root of the problem: the fundamental notion that protecting a police officer’s life is somehow more important that protecting civilians’ lives.

    Well, it makes sense to a limited extent; it’s just been taken too far. I agree, for example, that killing a sitting president is and should be a much worse offense than killing some random person; problem is, HOW can you have such a law without it morphing into “the president’s more important than the ordinary people?”

    And it’s even worse with the cops; for all the power a president has, he’s not going to stuff himself with piss and testosterone, grab a flashbang grenade and go charging into people’s houses in the middle of the night. For all the crimes a president might commit, he’s not going to commit one that looks identical to ordinary street crime during its commission. And if I ever do find myself in the same room as the president, it will NOT be after he breaks into my apartment in a manner that would make any reasonable person think “Oh, hell, my life is in imminent danger.”

  29. the reverse castle doctrine is snappy and succinct.

    which means it will forever be ignored. 🙁

  30. Jennifer,I must disagree.We should all be equal in the eyes of the law.The fact we’re not is one reason why many of these incidents happen.

  31. Jennifer,I must disagree.We should all be equal in the eyes of the law.The fact we’re not is one reason why many of these incidents happen.

    We should certainly all be equal in terms of what penalties we face for breaking the law, but that isn’t the case. I still can’t fathom how/why it is that cops, who have actual authority, are held to lower standards than those over whom they have such authority.

  32. And it’s even worse with the cops; for all the power a president has, he’s not going to stuff himself with piss and testosterone, grab a flashbang grenade and go charging into people’s houses in the middle of the night.

    Unless his name is THEODORE ROOSEVELT!!!

    😉

  33. We should certainly all be equal in terms of what penalties we face for breaking the law, but that isn’t the case.

    I think Mike’s point (and mine) was more that different valuations of different human lives leads to the notion that some (presidents, police officers) are just plain better than folk. And that ain’t cool.

  34. I wonder at what point it was that one politician turned to another and said “You know what would be good? Let’s wage war against our own citizens!” and that it actually sounded like a good enough idea to implement.

    Please don’t quote Bob Barr without attribution.

  35. Elemanope,My point exactly.If someone kills me or my wife they should face the same justice as if they killed the President.Putting a higher value on some lives is just plain wrong.As for the police that want to act like G.I. Joe’s,maybe they should be held to a military standard.The Code of Military Justice is quite strict.Actions considered a civil matter for civilians can result in prison time.

  36. As for the police that want to act like G.I. Joe’s, maybe they should be held to a military standard. The Code of Military Justice is quite strict. Actions considered a civil matter for civilians can result in prison time.

    But then we couldn’t have any gay cops, and then what would we do with our repertoire of strawberry-frosted-rainbow-jimmy doughnut jokes?

    All kidding aside, I agree that if you arm cops like the marines and tell them to go to war in our towns and cities, at the very least you could hold them to the same standard as a soldier in wartime.

  37. hi, im from easton the town of the shooting, and although im totally against this type of tactic, there did seem to be reason to be armed and careful. there had been a recent shooting at the house, where shotgun shells were fired in through the windows of the house at 4 am. the man who died was not a resident of the house so im not sure how likely he thought it was that he was being robbed at 220 in the afternoon, but still possible i guess. There also was another murder of a 17 year old high school student in his house right around the corner from there which is rumored to be related to the other two incidents. that’s a whole lot of bullets for that particular area. the neighboorhood is mostly families with young children and old retired folks, very very quiet. so i’m not surprised they would go in armed.
    there’s more info than the daily news provides and couple more related articles to be found here:
    http://www.connpost.com/ci_9304347?IADID=Search-www.connpost.com-www.connpost.com

  38. O’Brien said. “We have a tight-knit homeowners association,” he said, to which Terebesi did not belong. “He definitely kept different hours than the rest of us”

    Wow! Thank goodness the police protect us from guys like this!

  39. “I think Mike’s point (and mine) was more that different valuations of different human lives leads to the notion that some (presidents, police officers) are just plain better than folk. And that ain’t cool.”

    That reminds me of the HBO show John Adams. I remember 2 instances where our esteemed 2nd president was just as vulnerable and ordinary as just another citizen.

    The first was when he was looking for his son in the ghettos of Philidelphia (the nation’s capitol at the time of his presidency). Our president was indistinguishable from the other citizens there, except he was a little nicer dressed. He had to ask where his son lived.

    The second was at the end of his presidency as he left the White House. He got into a carriage which was full of the staff and other citizens. He asked them what they were staring at and told them he was John Adams, a citizen.

    Compare and contrast with today’s presidents, former presidents and the ordained bureaucrats that are held in such high regard, which borders on worship.

  40. I agree, for example, that killing a sitting president is and should be a much worse offense than killing some random person;…

    But its only been that way for a little over forty years.

    Lee Oswald was charged with murder by the State of Texas. There was no Federal law against homicide (except in UCMJ).

    Not exactly on topic, but I think it does demonstrate the point that much of this preferential treatment is of recent invention.

  41. Radley Balko Wrote this,
    Untermensch — Thanks for posting, so I don’t have to. I’m saying the shooting will be legally justified, not morally justified.

    As for the comment at 10:22, you’re spot-on. I hate brown people. Such is why my work focuses entirely on white people who have been victimized by the drug war.

    BRAVO SIR. I am still new to this site, it is refreshing to know there are people out there who are keeping an eye on these things.

  42. I wonder at what point it was that one politician turned to another and said “You know what would be good? Let’s wage war against our own citizens!” and that it actually sounded like a good enough idea to implement.

    As soon as there were two politicians.

  43. I love the reverse castle doctrine. Thanks RCDean

    If I were a) Brown and/or 2) into drugs at any level I would do one or both of the following:

    Build a bullet-proof panic room that I could go hide in the moment someone started bashing in my door (I might even consider sleeping there) so that I could have the chance of surrendering once introductions had been made.

    Rig my house with explosives.

    This way I could hide out and if the intruders were other bad guys I could blow them to bits. And if I was really pissed about the SWAT team’s tactics I could blow them up too….

    If there were enough brown, angry guys (like me in this case) and enough SWAT teams were obliterated then maybe no knock raids would go the way of the dodo.

    Of course a cheaper course would be a sign on the door: “Door booby-trapped with high explosives, please ring bell and introduce yourself for your own good.”

  44. If there were enough brown, angry guys (like me in this case) and enough SWAT teams were obliterated then maybe no knock raids would go the way of the dodo.

    You fool! Tanks will become standard raid equipment! You’ve doomed us all!

  45. Radley, I almost emailed this story to you when I read about it last week.

    More informative story here.

    The shooting happened last weekend (May 18), not this past weekend. Also, for those who asked, it was the State Police who were responsible; they had been asked to participate by the Easton police.

    Certainly there seems to have been some strange stuff occurring at Terebesi’s house and I’ll wait for the full story to come out before passing judgment. But yes — the use of deadly force, as opposed to subduing the man, is highly questionable. There’s no mention of Guizan being armed, and Terebisi wasn’t even charged with anything.

  46. Whoops. I see now in the Newsday article they charged Terebisi after the search.

  47. Sorry to be nitpicky, but there’s a typo in the first sentence of the article. It should be “drug raid,” not “drug rain.”

    Radley, I really appreciate your reporting on the drug war.

  48. This is just tragic. I grew up in Monroe, in the corner where it borders Easton and Trumbull. My wife is from Trumbull and she grew up about a mile from the incident. I’ve been down Dogwood Drive. It is woodsy, with houses set back from the street and 2-3 acre hilly lots. It does not surprise me they have a neighborhood association. It does not surprise me that the Easton Police Chief decided on a tactical team to serve this search and seize warrant because the Easton PD is not used to anything more than routine traffic stops (by the way, never do 75 mph down Stepney Rd. no matter how close to curfew it is, but I digress). Easton is about as white and rich as you can get without being in Westport or New Canaan. Anyway, culling together a tactical team from Monroe, Easton, Trumbull and other white bread area towns is akin to stocking your football team with the very best flautists you can find. It’s no wonder something went wrong.

    It is interesting to note the timeline of events:
    March 31, Terebisi calls 911 for a seizure/overdose/medical emergency. Police ask if they can look around and find drug paraphernalia and a handgun, which they seize.

    A little over a month later, May 7, Terebisi’s house is shot up. No guns found in the house at the time.

    May 18, only 11 days later, a SWAT team is needed because Terebisi had another gun registered to him, though it was not found in either previous search.

    I find it very disturbing that they thought they needed a shock and awe style entrance when there has not been any history of violence from Terebisi. I also find it disturbing that they use the grenades to disorient the occupants and then when they get the disired effect, don’t have the nerves to properly assess a mortal threat.

  49. We no longer have police in the U.S.A We have Death Squads.

  50. We no longer have police in the U.S.A We have Death Squads.

    Oh come on. Cops in the USA are well armed, often arbitrary, sometimes cruel, and usually dicks, but they are *nothing* like Death Squads.

  51. On another note.Gritsforbreakfeast is reporting a guy in Texas,in trouble for selling steroids to pro players,says he sold to L.E.A in 5 counties.Let’s see if Congress jumps on this.[not!]

  52. Far too often the response on H&R is “shoot the pigs: it’s their fault” (to paraphrase a bit).

    A bit? Please, that is a gross, unjustified and unfair distortion of the position of most people here who take issue with the cops themselves (as well as the “system”). It is disingenuous, if not downright dishonest, to twist a very few comments into “far too often” for the purpose of making your point seem more salient and reasonable that it really is.

    for the most part the cops are trying to do their job and believe in what they’re doing.

    That may be true but that is largely irrelevant to the questions raised about the behavior of the police (if not part of the problem, in the case of their “belief” in what they’re doing).

    The solution isn’t to shoot them

    Stuff a little more straw in there…

    Some of the H&R commenters don’t seem to have the reading skills

    Moving up from straw men to vague ad hominem

    Come on, either respond to a specific comment or just make your point. No need to invoke mysterious “some commenters” to bash and to implicitly attribute your straw man distortions to far more commenters than have actually uttered anything like them.

    The stuff that has been documented by Balko on this site, as well as the stuff that has come out in subsequent investigations, includes routine lying on affidavits by police, planting evidence, relying on uncorroborated sketchy informants as the sole basis for conducting SWAT raids, lying to protect their fellow officers, shooting innocent and/or unarmed people, general harassment, the list goes on and on. Certainly not least of all, there is the deafening silence of all the so-called “good cops” while all this is going on. You may say it’s part of the culture and that is part of the system that needs changing (and if so, I’d agree) but that does not absolve the individual cops involved, nor the others who stood by silently while people’s lives were ruined, from responsibility for their actions, nor from being criticized (or “vilified” if you wish) for them.

    So yes, the system absolutely needs to be changed, but admitting that does not require us to excuse the individual actions of the WoD’s foot soldiers, no matter how much they’re just “trying to do their job.”

  53. Cops in the USA are well armed, often arbitrary, sometimes cruel, and usually dicks, but they are *nothing* like Death Squads.

    To be added to the OED under “damning with faint praise.”

  54. To be added to the OED under “damning with faint praise.”

    Well, that was the effect I was going for!

  55. “Just doing my job” is the moral equivalent of “Just following orders”.

    Does mentioning Nuremberg Godwin the thread?

  56. Sorry in advance for the long response to a fairly long dressing down I received

    A bit? Please, that is a gross, unjustified and unfair distortion of the position of most people here who take issue with the cops themselves (as well as the “system”). It is disingenuous, if not downright dishonest, to twist a very few comments into “far too often” for the purpose of making your point seem more salient and reasonable that it really is.

    How often is not too often? Obviously we have a different assessment of this level. I’d hardly call what I wrote a “gross? distortion” when I look at the comments that are listed below: it’s not too hard to find examples of what I’m talking about in H&R comments (see below).

    for the most part the cops are trying to do their job and believe in what they’re doing.

    That may be true but that is largely irrelevant to the questions raised about the behavior of the police (if not part of the problem, in the case of their “belief” in what they’re doing).

    Like it or not, I think it does matter. Most of the politically engaged public probably know a cop or two (I certainly do), and the ones I know aren’t crooked as far as I know. When commenters start attributing motives to cops as a class, the comparison data for most folks are the cops they do know. So it becomes highly relevant what most cops’ motives are because most of us don’t know (or don’t think we know) the thugs that are focused on here. These reports have an inherent selectional bias: Radley isn’t going to report on the cop that helped a kid find his way home, that stopped a rapist, or that rescued a kitten from a tree. (You can argue that these are trite examples, but for a significant portion of the population, that’s what cops do, not beat up old ladies and plant drugs.)

    Some of the H&R commenters don’t seem to have the reading skills

    Moving up from straw men to vague ad hominem

    Sometimes ad hominem is appropriate. When someone reads Balko saying “I’m very sorry Officer John Doe was shot. He should not have been in the situation in the first place and it’s the fault of a broken system that he was” and responds with comments like the ones that follow, I do have to question reading skills. Those folks certainly aren’t responding to Balko’s argument.

    Come on, either respond to a specific comment or just make your point. No need to invoke mysterious “some commenters” to bash and to implicitly attribute your straw man distortions to far more commenters than have actually uttered anything like them.

    Two points:

    1. It’s you who is assigning a number of commenters. I never said how many said that. I realize my lead sentence could sound like it was all or many, but at the end of the paragraph I referred to those who do say those things as “a few intemperate yappers”, which should be a clue that I didn’t mean all…

    2. This happens often enough that I take it for granted that there are those who do say things like that. However, your point about attributing to specific folks is well taken, so I did a quick search of H&R on “shoot pigs” and “shoot cops” and it wasn’t hard to find plenty of comments that could be accurate paraphrases of what I said people said and that often go beyond what I wrote. Here’s just a smattering of real live quotes from H&R, some quite recent:

    “SHOOT A COP, SAVE YOUR FREEDOM! [my paraphrase ain’t too far off, is it?]

    This is why we need more snipers on hills to start picking off police, randomly, they need to learn to WORK WITHIN the LAW not be the LAW

    What about their families? Wahhh snipe them too” [So their families are fair game? That’s a lovely comment that’s sure to win friends and convince people that libertarian arguments should be taken seriously]

    Or the pithy and witty comment by “Copkiller” (I’m sure that name was just a nice little witty repartee):

    Pigs..

    Or perhaps this one is an example of the comments that no one is making?

    I’m at the point after reading this stuff, that we should actively shoot police like rabid animals. I’d rather have no police at all if they keep at this kind of idiocy.

    As for the politicians that support this kind of thing: targeted assassinations.

    There are plenty more like this. So, now that I have some specifics, how much of this is straw?

    The stuff that has been documented by Balko on this site, as well as the stuff that has come out in subsequent investigations, includes routine lying on affidavits by police, planting evidence, relying on uncorroborated sketchy informants as the sole basis for conducting SWAT raids, lying to protect their fellow officers, shooting innocent and/or unarmed people, general harassment, the list goes on and on. Certainly not least of all, there is the deafening silence of all the so-called “good cops” while all this is going on. You may say it’s part of the culture and that is part of the system that needs changing (and if so, I’d agree) but that does not absolve the individual cops involved, nor the others who stood by silently while people’s lives were ruined, from responsibility for their actions, nor from being criticized (or “vilified” if you wish) for them.

    I acknowledged that Balko will take on individuals when it’s justified. Throw crooked cops in jail. You have a good point about the silence of good cops. But to go from talking about them having culpability to the idiotic comments I was referring to is going too far. I don’t see anything temperate in those kinds of comments and, unfortunately, all it takes is one comment like one of those in a whole series of otherwise sane comments and readers who might listen to the real arguments will be put off. So I stand by “far too often”. These comments, rightly or wrongly, are what too many people will remember and think that libertarians support.

    So yes, the system absolutely needs to be changed, but admitting that does not require us to excuse the individual actions of the WoD’s foot soldiers, no matter how much they’re just “trying to do their job.”

    Nothing I said was intended to suggest otherwise. However, once they are in a situation that they should never have been in in the first place, assigning blame for what happens gets harder. When a cop shoots someone he thinks has a gun in a no-knock raid, it’s a damn shame. But, to echo Balko, he never should have had to make that choice. Is he to blame or a crooked system that put him there in the first place. Sort of like asking if a soldier in Iraq who shoots an unarmed civilian he thought was planting an IED is to blame.

    My comments were not about the cops (at least not primarily), but rather about some commenters on H&R and how their “rhetoric” (I use the term loosely) is a real detractor from the work of folks like Balko who are working to make a difference. Imagine that a journalist is bothered by the Cory Maye case and comes to Reason to read more and starts finding those comments and takes them as representative of the sort of people Balko “represents”: in that moment we have lost a potential ally and an opportunity to make an impact.

  57. Brian, I have gone and looked at your previous posts on similar threads. For what it’s worth, you are not one of the sorts of commenters I was objecting to. I had no intention of tarring you with a brush aimed at folks like the ones I linked to. I don’t see you advocating what they do here and presume that you wouldn’t do so. So I am sorry you were offended by my characterization. I think it’s accurate of the folks I had in mind, but you weren’t one of them.

  58. The LEOs claim they are “just following the law / orders, etc.” and tell people if they want the laws changed then campaign for a candidate or a law that changes the rules.

    Now that there are serious efforts to impede the war on some drugs with medical cannabis and harm reduction, in addition to outright legalization of cannabis by Reps Ron Paul and Barney Frank. the LEOs come out in force to stop these reasonable and logical rule changes.

    All the while, this crap continues, unabated and without any forseeable conclusion. I think there is a conscious effort on the part of the LEOs to “disassociate” from reality, just like the mentally ill, continuing a behavior that actually destroys the fabric of society rather than helping.

  59. I think there is an unconscious effort…

  60. “””But eventually that morphed from “cops get special privileges in the name of protecting and serving the people” to just “cops get special privileges, period.” “””

    As Orwell wrote, All animals are equal. but some animals are more equal than others

  61. “””Like it or not, I think it does matter. Most of the politically engaged public probably know a cop or two (I certainly do), and the ones I know aren’t crooked as far as I know.”””

    Sure generalizing is a fallacy, not all cops are bad. But are they part of the problem?

    As far as you know, is the catch. If any of those willfully looked the other way or did not report bad behavior to his/her superiors, then they are part of the problem.

    Frank Serpico said it best. We will contiune to have these problems until the bad cop fears the good cop and not the other way around.

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