Drug Policy

A More Efficient Way of Breaking Down Doors


In January 2008, police in Chesapeake, Virginia raided the home of 28-year-old Ryan Frederick. Days earlier, an informant had broken into Frederick's house, spotted several marijuana plants, stole some of them, then gave police the probable cause they needed to conduct the raid. During the raid, police put a battering ram through part of Frederick's door. By Frederick's account he awoke, saw someone breaking into his home, panicked (given that he'd been burglarized days earlier), and fired his gun through the broken door. His bullet struck and killed one of the police officers, Det. Jarrod Shivers.

Though depicted by the prosecution as a cold-blooded cop killer, Frederick's taped interviews shortly after the raid clearly showed a man who feared for his safety, and showed immense remorse upon learning that he'd killed a law enforcement officer. Frederick was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to ten years in prison. The state had sought to convict him of capital murder. (See a roundup of my coverage of the case here.)

More than two years later, the Chesapeake Police Department has announced a change in how it will conduct drug raids. But the department won't be reconsidering its policy of sending cops on volatile, forced entry raids into the homes of suspected, low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. Nor will it be changing the questionable way its narcotics officers deal with drug informants.

So what's the new drug raid policy? Henceforth, Chesapeake narcotics officers will be using a new and improved battering ram.

NEXT: Up from Serfdom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Thank Jesus that Officer Shivers didn’t die in vain.

  2. “There’s nothing we could have done differently or better when my buddy died. But it has the potential to prevent other police wives and children from going through this given the same circumstances,” Chambers said at a recent Police Unity Tour fundraiser in Chesapeake.

    Nothing you could have done better or differently? Is he really that stupid? (Don’t answer that). That just pisses me off to no end.

    1. ::groans:: God, guys, yeah you can.

      I’m not anti-cop, I damn well married one, but so many of the cops nowadays have been indoctrinated to the bullshit about the so-called war on drugs that they can’t fathom a world where people can smoke weed and not be hardcore criminals.

      More of those guys need to be educated. My husband pointed out rightly that currently, while your end-users are not criminals, most of those up the chain are — it does involve murder, smuggling and all kinds of nasty dealings. He also said that legalizing that shit and allowing people to grow it either for commercial or personal use would end that almost immediately.

      I hate it when cops get killed over something as stupid as an ill-thought out policy that has been hammered into their heads thanks to blind policy-makers.

      1. I’m not anti-cop, even though I damn well married one,

        You’re a better man than I.

        1. It depends on the cop. 😉 Mine happens to be my hero. He also happens to be pro-pot legalization and a number of other libertarian stances.

          1. Obviously not one of Philadelphia’s “finest”.

            I would fear he ends up very lonely, like Serpico, for not swallowing the whole thin blue line.

  3. Let me guess; the “battering ram” is a long pole on a carriage with a huge shaped charge on the end, specifically designed to kill neutralize the occupants of the target structure.

    “We have conducted a painstaking analysis of our actions, and have found no errors or improprieties of any sort. In fact, we have decided to promote everyone, and double their salaries. Thank you. No questions; we have crime to fight.”

    1. A petard is what you’re describing.


      Maybe they coould be hoist by their own.

  4. A guy I know had an altercation with the SWAT team a couple years ago. The local police knocked on his door. They knew he was in there, but he wouldn’t answer. So, the local police, being the douchebags that they are, called in the county SWAT team and the bomb squad. They eventually kicked in the door, but they didn’t enter the house. They threw some kind of “communication device” into the house. Whatever it was, it woke him from his benzo and Halcion induced coma, and he went outside and they arrested him, but they never entered the house until after he came out.

  5. Another drug related death.

    1. Just goes to show you how dangerous drugs are, and why they need to be illegal.

      1. To Juanita, the lovely and deluded object of my desire –

        As I sit here all alone
        I think of only you
        I think of how I love you
        and how you make me feel
        I think of what could be
        a wish come true
        for you to love me too

        I’m holding on to my love for you
        and hoping one day soon
        you will love me
        like I love you

        1. Your unrequited love for Juanita is faintly disturbing, J sub D. Almost stalkerish.

          1. No, he just likes the crazy ones.

      2. How many people here are trolling as Juanita? Can you guys at least tell us who you are so we can congratulate you on your many years of stalwart devotion to excellent trolling?

  6. Your post (#1651388) has been marked as spam by a third-party spam filter. If this is a mistake, please email webmaster@reason.com.

    This shit again? Fuck off! I just lost my comment.

    1. Sucks, don’t it?

      It happened to me earlier today over something that even Tony would recognize as not spam.

    2. LOL! Sounds like a plan to me!


  7. Motivation number 1,027 for moving out of the Hampton Roads area, in spite of the overwhelming amount of love for the million and a half of my closest friends that live there. . .

    1. Well, don’t come to Texas. It’s just like that.

  8. It’s amazing how the cops literally can’t learn the logical or obvious lesson in any case ever. Their reaction, without fail, is “bring more violence”.

    I fucking hate the cops.

    1. I hate it when all cops are broad-brushed as being violent sadists. Just like any group, there are good ones and bad ones. And for every bad one, there is one out there who lives the altruistic ideal and climbs out on lake ice to save a dog, tracks down and puts away a disgusting pervert who orchestrated the systemic abuse of two little girls, protected private property of those who weren’t there at the moment to do it themselves, faced down a psycho woman with a gun who wanted to blow her husband’s head off for cheating and helped a kid fix a bicycle chain on a hot day. And a million more little things, both in uniform and out of it.

      I know. I married that one.

      1. I’m certainly not anti-cop, but cops turning their heads at unethical or illegal behavior by other cops, can’t really be called good cops because they are part of the problem. Of course, those cops would beg to differ. That’s part of the problem too.

        Frank Serpico said it best. These problems will continue until the day comes when the bad cops fear the good cops, not the otherway around.

        1. It really depends on whether there are bad apples in the department, too. I live in a village — trust me, the bad ones don’t last. Once they’re unearthed, they’re unemployed.

          The big departments, on the other hand, are often absolutely rife with corruption. The good ones either tow the line, lay low or pay for it.

          1. I agree. There is not a major metro police force that doesn’t have huge numbers of criminals and enabling “brothers in blue” looking the other way.

            Smaller police forces are more likely to be completely clean or completely corrupted.

            1. This is really an excellent argument for forcing all departments in large cities to be directly accountable to the public in their precincts. You would see a lot less corruption if there wasn’t some over-arching central authority to shield the bad with both money and manpower.

            2. I’m certainly not anti-cop

              I didn’t used to be, but I am now.

              Fuck ’em, every last one. Until they very publicly start taking out their own trash, until the police unions get off their fat, hairy asses and do something other than collect dues and extort municipalities, I will consider them as they consider me: guilty until proven innocent.

              1. I’m absolutely anti-cop, because they’re a gang that is anti-the rest of us.

                This is the thing. They’re a fucking gang. Just because a few of them are less horrible gang members doesn’t make a difference.

                1. For laffs, go to a cop forum and count how many times you see phrases like “on the front lines” and “civilians”. Make sure to take some pills first.

                  1. I couldn’t do it even with Valium.

                    1. Valium, Benadryl, and alcohol is an excellent combination, by the way. I highly recommend it.

      2. That’s nice, Steff, but until the “good” ones start arresting the bad ones, they’re not “good”–they’re complicit.

        Sorry to break it to you, but any cop who has ever seen another cop do something illegal and let it go because they were a fellow cop, is also a bad cop.

        1. This so much. When I see “bad cops” starting to be prosecuted for civil rights violations in large numbers, then there will be such a thing as a “good cop”. For now, they all just go on protecting each other. There is ZERO incentive for a cop to keep his nose clean & respect the law.

        2. That has happened. For instance, there was a real whack-job here who had paid for his cheap night-class academy, and then subsequently came into the village department. His record was clean because he hadn’t established one yet, so they hired him on part-time.

          He tried to stage his own heroics, right down to framing innocent citizens. He’s under indictment now. I hope the stupid fucker goes to jail and stays there.

          The big problem with police isn’t that they’re all bad. It’s that there are so, so many factors that add up to the head-turning syndrome, and that allow the bad ones to gain power. It’s a systemic issue. Both big and small departments have huge problems, but until we have a public who is willing to genuinely get involved and back up the good officers, many will indeed lay low and not report the bad ones. It’s as much self-preservation as anything can be. There are always people who go into police work looking for the power. But there are also those who go into it because they really want to help people; they are almost always the ones who don’t give into the power-complex and who stand up. It’s never a simple issue.

          1. I don’t care, Steff. I just don’t care. The time where I could have said “there are good cops and let’s let them clean their own house” is long, long past, and I hate every one of them.

            When your husband joins IA or the FBI and starts arresting bad cops, you let me know. Until then, he’s just another pig that isn’t quite as bad as the rest of them.

            1. Well, I am thoroughly sorry your world-view is that jaded, but hey. Free speech.

    2. The lesson is that the civilians have been let off too lightly up to now. Well, now the rules have changed and gloves are off, shitfucks. Let’s see how much you like smoking doobies when I put a breaching round up your ass, fuckhole.

    3. What do you expect from people that can never admit they did something wrong.

      1. universal health care?

    4. Actually, it seems like the lesson this guy learned was mentioning your “buddy’s” death over and over again will get you valuable contracts for selling an automated door-buster.

    5. My mom is a recently retired cop. I love my mom and think she’s a great person who was about the least agressive cop I ever heard of. I would nonetheless say that there can be good people who are cops, but there can be no good cops. The system itself is too evil. I’m not sure my mom disagrees with me on the matter. And it’s not only big metro departments that are rife with corruption. I grew up in and my mom was a cop in the town where Grisham’s The Innocent Man was set. Small towns can be just as corrupt as big cities.

      1. That they can. But those with high levels of accountability, who weed out the bad and maintain a standard are generally not.

  9. So, like, when cops go on raids like this, do they even consider, you know, ringing the doorbell or something? Or is their first move just to break in to the home?

    1. Yes. At fucking dawn. Cocksuckers. They don’t even fathom that not breaking shit all to hell might be a better solution most of the time. I’m not saying that there aren’t times when forced entry as a primary tactic is warranted, but a dude with a handful of pot plants is not one of them.

      1. If a dude with a handful of pot plants is a known, dangerous, unstable felon with a trackrecord of violence and has made repeated statements that “he’s not goin’ back alive”, then it’s warranted. But someone with no priors, no violent record, then not only no, but fuck no.

        Same for the kid who’s suspected of stealing a Playstation 3.

  10. Chambers watched his buddy die . For the next six months, the police sergeant replayed it. He analyzed each moment, second-guessed, grieved.

    Later, the shooter was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

    Chambers thought about an old idea.

    He’d spent a dozen years on the Chesapeake Police Department’s SWAT Team, eight in vice and narcotics. He knew the importance of getting through a suspect’s door fast.

    I’m always glad to see government look at a problem, and come up with a novel, effective solution.

  11. “RapidEntrySolutions.com”

    Why does everything government does these days feel like a rapid entry solution?

    1. Why does everything government does these days feel like a rapid lubeless entry solution?


      1. No, you can leave the rapid in. For it is often a rapid, lubeless entry.

  12. Why doesn’t the police ask everyone to keep their doors unlocked?

    1. Because then we would expect them to patrol the streets which would seriously cut into their time for tactical sushi meetings.

  13. All of this fuels my desire to design my next house specifically to impede SWAT team (or any other unauthorized) entry.

    1. Don’t forget to smear your punji stakes with poop, dude.

      1. I smear everything.

      2. Punji sticks are for people without access to materials and machine shops. I am a hateful devious bastard who has both.

        Seriously, move into the 21st century, dude. Plus, punji sticks make it hard to mow the lawn.

        1. What then? Caltrops are a good option, but they still benefit from a nice varnish of poop.

    2. Oh, yeah. Of course, a “dynamic entry” is basically breaking and entering, so everything I do will be dual-purpose.

      Steel entry doors? Check. Multi-point latches? Check.
      Shatter-proof window film? Check.
      Camera monitoring w/remote backup of entry points? Check.
      Large, underfed dogs? Check.
      Large, well-fed guns? Check.

      1. Yeah, plus you can plausibly claim you’re simply concerned about home security.

      2. What you want is flash bangs and some of them puke inducing strobes the Army asked Santa/DARPA for. Take away the comms advantage, derail the momentum. Light the entry way up like a runway. And caltrops.

  14. there are so, so many factors that add up to the head-turning syndrome, and that allow the bad ones to gain power.

    Waaah, waaah, waaah.

    1. You disagree?

  15. It’s haaaaard” is a bullshit excuse.
    Did you, or did you not, swear to uphold the law, Officer? You and your fellow officers are subject to the law just as surely as we unwashed peasants. Take your “professional courtesy” and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

  16. Cops- baboons with guns.

  17. Back in 2008, Balko was saying that the police raided this guy’s home because they mistoke Japanese Maples for pot plants.

    Now Balko’s saying that the guy had actual pot plants.

    Does this consitute a correction of the earlier story?

    1. Frederick admitted to growing marijuana. He also grew Japanese maples. I raised the possibility that the plants the informant saw were the latter. Frederick’s admission indicates they weren’t, though the actual marijuana plants the informant confiscated were never photographed, and seem to have disappeared from the custody of the police department without explanation.

  18. The War on Drugs causes more deaths than the drug themselves. Another life wasted to prevent people from intoxicating on substances other than alcohol.

    1. Don’t forget denatured alcohol.

      It’s better that American citizens are poisoned by the ATF, than the Fed miss out on a couple of tax dollars.

  19. [sigh]

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.