War on Drugs

Two More Isolated Incidents


The city of New Orleans has offered an $85,000 settlement with three men wrongly arrested and jailed after a 2002 drug raid.  When the three police detectives who conducted the raid were later implicated in various other crimes, investigators discovered that the detectives had also planted the drugs they say they found in the raid.

The second case comes from Orlando, Florida, where police stormed the house of a a grandfather, who was watching his infant grandson at the time, complete with full SWAT attire, guns to the head, and "smoke bombs" (likely concussion grenades).

They were investigating the robbery of a cell phone store. The man's 20-year-old grandson had apparently made a call from one of the phones.

Provided the police did the proper investigation beforehand to be sure they had the right guy and the right house, apprehending someone suspected of armed robbery would probably be a legitimate use of a SWAT team.

Problem is they seem to have invaded first, and asked questions later. The grandson (a) hadn't lived in the home for six years, and (b) apparently was guilty of little more than unknowingly purchasing a hot phone. He handed the phone over, and the cops left.

In the meantime, a man who did nothing wrong had his home ransacked, his privacy violated, and was generally terrorized. If he'd had a gun in his home for self-protection, he'd likely be dead.

It's not that SWAT tactics are always wrong. It's that they're frighteningly too often the first resort with the police departments that have them.