Militarization of Police

Let's Start a Moral Panic About Teen "SWAT-ing"! (Not the Militarization of Police.)

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Oh, teens. Teens and their fads, from Satanism to vodka-soaked tampons; there is no doubt that being between 13 and 19 means you're a drunk, sexually active follower of Lucifer on your way to a rainbow party.

However, the Los Angeles Times would prefer we all worry about teens prank-calling 911 and getting authorities to send a SWAT team to an address of their choosing. This, concerned adults, is known as "SWATing." And last week it happened to pre-Justin Bieber tween musical object of worship, now gay-rights-fan and stoner, Miley Cyrus.

That is undoubtedly a gross waste of resources, as the LA Times blog notes. What they forget to note is that it could also kill someone. Reason knows you know many SWAT/militarization of police horror stories, but the LA Times seems not to notice that this is a bigger problem than unruly teens. (Or a bigger problem than conservative bloggers getting SWATed, which is how the term came to many people's attention earlier this summer.)

It quasi-self-aware style, the LA Times writes:

The thing with SWAT-ting, apparently, is that it's too easy, especially for the … … overindulged, bratty, unbearable kids of today who have way too much free time.

The folks from the site uKnowKids sent us a handy primer on this devious activity, noting that teens can easily mask their phone numbers via services such as Spoofcard. This and other apps also let them change their voices.

This is, then, way too much technology for the LAPD.

Seriously, though: Calling out rifle-toting officers and a chopper to a celebrity's house costs money and takes resources away from other communities.

They also quote an"internet safety expert" who warns:

"Many teens who engage in online gaming, chat rooms or social media may be at risk. Miley Cyrus and a few politicians have already been victims of this vengeful act."

California, perhaps, is less likely to have a moment where a puzzled, armed homeowner gets taken out by nervous cops. But it has happened during "legitimate" drug raids in Florida, Georgia, and other places. And the teen horrors! element to this, even if really a trend (which seems dubious, because moral panics nearly always are), is not the point. Hopefully parents have taught their 13-plus-year-old that it's seriously not okay to mess with emergency services. If they haven't, that's a problem already (and they're looking at serious punishment if caught), but it's a problem made worse with the ease in which SWAT teams are deployed in the U.S. So why not focus, even a little, on that aspect instead of hand-wringing over teens and tech? 

Because worrying about teens is just always going to be more fun than worrying about the police pulling out your tampon during a strip search after you allegedly rolled through a stop light. If that womean had been a teen, perhaps the officers would have just been checking to see if her tampon were vodka-soaked.

As usual, this is not new, it's simply being reported as part of a trend. SWATing has, according to 911dispatch.com, happened about 65 times in the past decade. Regular readers need not be reminded that real, dangerous SWAT raids happen about 150 times a day. Wouldn't it be great if we could start a moral panic about that?

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  1. What they forget to note is that it could also kill someone.

    Maybe they didn’t forget. Maybe they just don’t care.

  2. Seriously, though: Calling out rifle-toting officers and a chopper to a celebrity’s house costs money and takes resources away from other communities.

    Seriously, though: it’s also potentially deadly.

    SWATing is in sociopath territory. It’s not a simple prank, like dropping a bucket of pig’s blood on the shy telekinetic girl at the prom. It can get someone killed. Oh wait.

    1. Not cool, bro. She had a hard life.

      1. Hey, you were one of the ones pelting her with tampons in the shower! Don’t blame me!

      2. Carrie got what she deserved. I hope they shunned her more after that business at the prom.

        1. Err, I don’t know that there were many left alive to shun her.

          Spoiler alert!!!

          1. Someone like Carrie, there are always more shunners.

          2. Or, as more appropriate hereabouts, set phasers to “shun.”

            1. Middle school phasers?

              1. Just kidding, my middle school was spent sitting in Christian homeschoolers’ living rooms, reading Shakespeare outloud and pretending not to notice when it was dirty.

                1. Did you learn Latin? My wife is homeschooling my youngest (5-year old), and she says that there is a significant minority of homeschoolers who get at least some of the old “classical” curriculum.

                  1. You cannot learn Latin from your parents. Latin must be learned the proper, traditional way: in the classroom of a fascistic and merciless Latin teacher.

                    There’s a reason why the “Romans go home” scene in Life of Brian is so funny: because it’s 100% accurate.

                    1. Yes, that’s precisely my vision of how Latin should be taught.

                  2. I learned Latin back when I was a wee homeschooled lad. Damned if I can remember any of it now.

                    1. Antiquis temporibus, nati tibi similes in rupibus ventosissimis exponebantur ad necem.

                2. Homeschool reading groups FTW

                  1. Word.

          3. One person (Sue) made it out alive. So that’s an easy shun.

            1. I like to think she shuns Carrie in the sequel, with Carrie realizing that psychic death powers don’t make her cool, they just make her an evil loser bitch.

              1. Uh, psychic death powers make you automatically cool. Right, ProL?

                (begins psychic death process on ProL, a la Scanners)

                1. [Counters with extreme psychic death powers demonstrated in The Fury.]

                  1. (begins Dreamscape style attack on ProL)

                    1. [Goes totally Lo Pan on Episiarch’s ass.]

                    2. (goes into Firestarter mass destruction mode)

                    3. [Destroys the Earth. It obstructs my view of Venus.]

    2. I’m not so sure. Perhaps raising the false positive rate would help lower the shoot-first mentality they have now. Sort of like legally open-carrying to get cops to stop assuming everyone with a gun is about to go on a rampage.

      1. Do you really think that would work, knowing cop mentality? Or would they just take it to 11 like always?

        For officer safety, of course.

      2. Sort of like legally open-carrying to get cops to stop assuming everyone with a gun is about to go on a rampage.

        And how well has that worked out? Here in CO we’re technically an open carry state, but try carrying in downtown Denver or Boulder and see how long it takes a cop to arrest your ass for something. And when they do, don’t even flinch in the general direction of your gun unless you want to get riddled full of holes.

    3. My question is, how does everyone know the magic words to get a SWAT team sent out. What happened to sending one or two uniforms over there to check it out?

  3. When the coppers in BDUs show up as a result of SWAT-ing, do they still get to search the residence for, you know, items potentially dangerous to law enforcement officers? Because if so, I just thought of an awesome way around coppers getting those oh so hard to obtain search warrants for drug/poker raids.

    1. STOP GIVING THEM IDEAS!

  4. How does one get work as an Internet safety expert? Does pretending to be a teenager in a chat room count as experience? Do you go around collecting pictures of girls at the mall and beach as research? How well does spouting retardedly obvious statements to moral-panicked media outlets pay?

    1. You have to be good at finding sharp, pointy things on the Internet.

      But, if you just want to be an asshole, you can be like this guy in England:

      http://www.thisiskent.co.uk/Fa…..story.html

  5. I notice they didn’t discuss the option of eliminating the routine use of SWAT raids by the police.

    1. Who’s going to drive the surplus tank around then? Huh? HUH?

      You Canucks never think these things through.

      1. Just a crazy idea I thought I’d throw out there.

        And now that the US Government has committed to reducing the number of nukes that it has…

        1. I wouldn’t get too smug. We’re too close together and too culturally similar for this not to happen in Canada.

          Except there, it’ll be called Mounting. Get it?

          1. Oh, SWAT raids do happen here. And, unfortunately, the socon Harper government seems intent on ramping up the WoD.

            OTOH there was the guy in Quebec who was acquitted of killing a cop because the judge ruled he had reasonable grounds for believing himself endangered when the cops smashed their way into his home.

            1. That saddens me. Why must you be crazy, too? Is it American television? Or our video games?

              1. The fault, my dear Libertate, lies not in our neighbours, but in ourselves.

                (But don’t try to tell the Council of Canadians that.)(Or rather don’t bother trying to tell them.)

                1. What? I refuse to believe that everything bad about Canada is not solely and directly attributable to the United States. In fact, I demand that that be so.

              2. We learned it by watching Degrassi Junior High!

                Seriously, the exportation of Justin Bieber is proof that Canadians have no qualms committing crimes against humanity.

  6. The thing with SWAT-ting, apparently, is that it’s too easy, especially for the … … overindulged, bratty, unbearable kids of today who have way too much free time.

    Maybe it’s too easy because of the over-militarization of police forces and their over-eagerness to use “special” weapons and tactics in routine law enforcement situations?

    1. No, no, it’s those damn meddling kids and their overindulged dog and their stupid van!

      I didn’t realize it was possible to sound so old in print.

      1. “Homer, is this the way you pictured married life?”

        “Yup, pretty much. Except we drove around in a van solving mysteries.”

  7. “and stoner, Miley Cyrus”

    Stoner? Is there something wrong with that? Is this not a libertarian rag?

    1. Did Lucy say there was something wrong with it?

      1. When is stoner ever used as a positive description?

        1. As far as I read it, she wasn’t giving a positive description, she was giving a slightly joking neutral decision.

          Lighten up, Francis.

          1. Description, not decision.

        2. When it is used as a descriptor for good music, hence stoner rock.

          A fine example of stoner rock from Fu Manchu: Ojo Rojo

          1. An even better example: Green Machine by Kyuss.

            1. That’s that plastic tricycle thingee like a Big Wheel, right?

            2. I was in studio when they were recording that.

          2. Also, Monster Magnet. Pretty much anything off of Powertrip is good.

            1. I think that record was produced by feeding the lead singer cocaine and strippers at a pace that nearly denuded Las Vegas of both.

    2. But according to her publicist the bong in that picture was filled with perfectly legal Salvia!

    3. “A drug is not bad. A drug is a chemical compound. The problem comes in when people who take drugs treat them like a license to behave like an asshole.”

      -Frank Zappa

  8. there is no doubt that being between 13 and 19 means you’re a drunk, sexually active follower of Lucifer on your way to a rainbow party.

    At what point did your dad kick everyone out?

  9. there’s no issue here.

    the overuse of swat, and the increased militarization is a bad thing

    “swatting” is also a bad thing.

    there is a time and a place for SWAT. and the quality of SWAT varies widely from agency to agency, which is what you would expect in a country where we don’t have centralized govt. control (see: federalism)

    3 guys in my unit were shot on a raid where we did NOT use SWAT.

    if we used SWAT, would the outcome have been less tragic? quite possibly. they have better armor, better training (my agency’s swat team is excellent), and better weaponry.

    that aside, it’s clear that SWAT has been GROSSLY overused (just like tasers) over the last several years and that’s a bad thing

    but it doesn’t take away for a second that these assmunches calling in these bogus calls etc. are being fucksticks

    1. Allow me to provide a verbal encapsulation of the odious asininity of your thinking concerning these matters: You’re the asshole who believes that a man answering a midnight knock on his door while armed as a precautionary measure justifies his summary execution.

      Do you honestly, truly believe anybody’s going to take your convoluted, faux-analysis bullshit seriously anymore?

      1. yawn. again, you can’t address the issue in this thread, you have to bring up past shit, and make a personal attack.

        are you as obsessed, etc. as sloopy?

        stop acting like a 5 yr old. we discussed that issue to death.

        it doesn’t justify his “summary execution” that’s just beg the question rhetoric, so clearly you aren’t interested in rational discussion

        this is typical of a reasonoid. i 100% agree with balko et al that both tasers and SWAT have been grossly overused and the militarization of the police is bad.

        so, instead of agreeing you have to bring up some ancient history bullshit because you CAN’T STAND TO AGREE ABOUT ANYTHING WITH AN EVUL COP

        the guy got capped justifiably. his bad

        endlessly discussed (every nuance) already

        1. yawn. again, you can’t address the issue in this thread, you have to bring up past shit, and make a personal attack.

          And yet he is persuasive.

          By the way “make a personal attack”?

          Like these?

          are you as obsessed, etc. as sloopy?

          stop acting like a 5 yr old.

          this is typical of a reasonoid.

          Like that?

          He’s right you have no credibility. It follows you to every thread. It always matters.

          so, instead of agreeing you have to bring up some ancient history bullshit because you CAN’T STAND TO AGREE ABOUT ANYTHING WITH AN EVUL COP

          Leave if you don’t like it.

          1. Leave if you don’t like it.

            This is the new glibster refrain. Not sure if it actually reveals an agenda (get rid of dissenters in preparation for who knows what) or just an arrogant assumption that this is their sandbox and they can poop in it as much as they want.

            Listen, bub, you don’t have any more ownership of this place than I do or anyone else does. Just because the posts on your side have more different names doesn’t mean you’re right or even more in touch with the Reason zeitgeist. Maybe if you don’t like what dunphy is saying you should leave.

            1. Leave if you don’t like it.

              1. No, you leave if you don’t like it. I’m not the one starting trouble here.

            2. I agree entirely. I/we have no right to demand that anybody leave, of course, and why would that be desirable? Echo chambers blow.

            3. Not sure if it actually reveals an agenda (get rid of dissenters in preparation for who knows what)

              HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

              You’re not even remotely important enough to expend energy trying to get rid of you, Tulpy-poo. Once again, your delusions of grandeur are hilarious.

              1. If you don’t like my grandeur, you know where the door is.

          2. “so, instead of agreeing you have to bring up some ancient history bullshit because you CAN’T STAND TO AGREE ABOUT ANYTHING WITH AN EVUL COP”

            Congratulations, Yosemite Sam. You’ve jumped the fucking shark twice in a single day. Absolutely everything is attributable to my baseless abhorrence of cops, isn’t it?

            You spent half an hour pissing on the corpse of a man murdered by those infernal fucks that are continually and furiously corrupting and discrediting your very profession by fucking up absolutely everything they do and touch.

        2. “yawn. again, you can’t address the issue in this thread, you have to bring up past shit, and make a personal attack.”

          There’s nothing to address, you fucking badge. Your latest crusade in the previous thread led you to jump the shark spectacularly, and I just had to see how you’d perceive the result. And here it is.

          “are you as obsessed, etc. as sloopy?”

          What the fucking shit is it with you and Sloopy? Does getting skullfucked by some stranger on an Internet board unman you to the point of screechy indignation like this every single fucking time? If it does, you’re in for lots more, because the only thing I’ve seen him do, and he’s done it very consistently and very effectively, is sling you into outrage by plastering (rightly) the blog with demonstrations of just how low you motherfuckers in blue have sunk.

          1. So if dunphy is such a horrible person, and his position in this thread is itself horrible, why did you feel it necessary to (a) bring up a past argument, and (b) totally misrepresent dunphy’s position?

            He said some immoderate things on that thread but his basic position was common sense. Don’t point a gun at someone immediately after opening the door. Duh.

            1. “So if dunphy is such a horrible person”

              I don’t give a damn whether he’s Father fucking Christmas or a Satan-worshipping serial killer. The unholy cascades of bullshit that flow forth from the chasm in his head every fucking time his fingers touch the keyboard are what I’ve got a problem with.

              “and his position in this thread is itself horrible”

              It was unrelated to anything he said in this thread.

              “why did you feel it necessary to (a) bring up a past argument

              Because I felt like it. Visibility in a newer thread made it likelier he’d read my rant.

              “and (b) totally misrepresent dunphy’s position?”

              Me and you must live in completely different dimensions, Tulpa, because, apparently, we’re neither reading the same threads, or discussing the same person here.

              1. Your bold tag privileges are in danger of being taken away.

                And don’t forget, they are privileges, not rights.

                1. That was a good way to comment on my fuck-up with the tags. I especially liked the part where you made the distinction between rights and privileges. That was inspirational.

                  Would you like to get together and discuss calculus?

            2. He said some immoderate things on that thread but his basic position was common sense. Don’t point a gun at someone immediately after opening the door. Duh.

              Actually it was, “Don’t answer the door with a gun”. Which is assuredly not common sense, as the incident in my neighborhood indicated. Why are you trying to mitigate his stance?

        3. “stop acting like a 5 yr old. we discussed that issue to death.”

          You didn’t discuss shit. You spent ten-odd posts treading and jumping from one faulty, horseshit assumption to another, moralizing all the way through, and came to the conclusion, out of the cavernous, noxious blue of the black hole in your fucking head, that the guy “got capped justifiably”.

          “it doesn’t justify his “summary execution” that’s just beg the question rhetoric, so clearly you aren’t interested in rational discussion”

          Then tell me what you think I should call what was done to the guy, if “summary execution” isn’t working for you. “Capping”, maybe?

          “this is typical of a reasonoid. i 100% agree with balko et al that both tasers and SWAT have been grossly overused and the militarization of the police is bad.”

          I don’t give a shit what you claim to be in general agreement with, because most every instance of theft, assault, or murder committed by your brothers in blue that I’ve seen you comment on was an opportunity for you to showcase not only your moral blindness, but also the incomprehensible, technicality-laden bullshitting you’ve simply mastered in your quest to “analyze the facts” — or, more appropriately, justify the abjectly unjustifiable.

    2. I would have no problem with someone SWATing Scalia.

      Since Tony S. thinks that the police are consummate professionals who never fuck up, he should have no problem with a SWAT raid at his residence. What could go wrong? Nothing professionals can’t handle.

      I also not-so-secretly wouldn’t really give a shit if it was done to that prosecutor blogger, what’s his name.

      But Miley?

      LEAVE MILEY ALONE

      1. I think one reason for Sotomayor’s surprising sympathy to civil liberties is that, unlike the other Justices, she actually has some experience with the sharp end of the Executive Branch (as an ADA, IIRC.) I’d be happier if it were defense bar experience, but you can’t have everything.

        IMHO, a lot of the problem with the Supreme Court on criminal procedure is that they have next to no experience being in the crosshairs of the system. And so they are governed by their theories as to how it’s run, which are so laughably high up the ivory tower, they’re looking down at Everest climbers.

  10. we all worry about teens prank-calling 9/11

    “Hi, September 11? Is your refrigerator running?”

    1. You really should have worked a building seven joke in there somehow.

      1. “Is Mr. Wall there? Then what the hell is holding up… shit.”

        1. Too sooooooooooooooon.

  11. just saw a very well done advertisement on tv advocating WA state’s upcoming MJ legalization initiative!!!!!!!!

    man, it will be fucking awesome if this thing passes. i totally look forward to the federales having a fucking conniption if it happens, too

    statist tools

    1. If WA legalizes, there will just be a little ‘accident’ at the Hanford nuclear reactor.

    2. Hey Dunphy, without being too specific, what type of area do you patrol typically? Who do you interact with commonly? Are you patrolling white upper middle class ‘burbs, or lower class/poor neighborhoods? How many calls do you respond to during a typical shift? What is the most typical call/crime you encounter?

      /not trolling

      1. Dunphy’s on permanent assignment on a detail parked outside Morgan Fairchild’s house.

        OK I was trolling that time. But that one was for sarcasmic! I like to make sarcy laugh.

      2. It would be funny if he’s the guy who stakes out the tranny massage parlors.

        1. Oh hey, Chief! No… I was just, uh… I was just staking out this tranny massage parlor. Yeah, that’s it! I was undercover… it’s real hush-hush stuff. Anyways, I’ve got to “get back to work”. I’ve got another “client” in Room 6.

          *walks away, stumbles*

          Damn, I ruined another pair of high heels!

          /dunphy

  12. SWAT teams are overused, but in these cases the things being called in to 911 are totally legitimate targets of SWAT activity. They’re calling in murderous rampages and hostage situations, not poker games.

    So to argue that this problem is caused by lowering the bar for SWAT is fallacious.

    1. Even when those German terrorists took over the Nokatomi Building, before the LAPD deployed SWAT they sent that fat black cop with the Twinkies over to check out the call first.

      1. “Christ, man. Can’t you see what’s happening? Can’t you read between the lines?”

    2. The bar has indeed been lowered that far. See below.

  13. It’s disturbing to note that it’s possible to maybe get someone killed by crank calling 911. It’s even more disturbing that someone would blame the idiot crank caller, and not, you know, the fact that the cops are so gullible that they’ll send a trigger happy leathally armed SWAT team to someone’s doorstep solely on the advice of a drunken teenager on 911.

    Incidentlly, I should mention that something EXACTLY LIKE THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED at my apartment complex in Tucson last winter. There was a helicopter circling overhead with a spotlight aimed by my neighbors door, a dozen cops in body armor, weapons drawn crouched around the walls. I couldn’t fucking leave the apartment.

    Why? because the meth addict in a different apartment got all paranoid and became convinced that my neighbor (a nice guy who smokes weed and sits on his porch playing guitar), was hiding in his apartment with a weapon and threatening to kill him. And called 911.Of course, the guy wasn’t even home at the time, he came home to find his door busted down, and someone had to inform him what happened.

    And ya know, the apartment is not that bad, except for the methhead, who got evicted the next week.

    So, yeah, the cops are that fucking gullible. They will call out a swat team and a police helicopter and send armed policemen to someones door, SOLELY because a cracked out idiot freaks out and calls 911.

    1. HazelMeade| 8.9.12 @ 8:29PM |#
      “It’s even more disturbing that someone would blame the idiot crank caller, and not, you know, the fact that the cops are so gullible that they’ll send a trigger happy leathally armed SWAT team to someone’s doorstep solely on the advice of a drunken teenager on 911.”

      Yep. If a government has deadly force willing to use that force based on nothing other than a random call, the problem *isn’t* the random call.

  14. It dosen’t disturb me that pranksters are calling out SWAT. I see it as a means to grind the SWAT teams down, confuse and disorient. What I would prefer, and what would be most effective, is for the SWAT’s to be called out on other memebers of their police force. That would be fun justice.

    1. The good thing would be, no one would get hurt because they’re all professionals

  15. So an “internet safety expert” still thinks teens frequent chat rooms in 2012? What about the kids using The Napster to listen to The Limp Bizkit? And can we talk about teens hacking their parents’ dial-up password and downloading pornographic pictures at up to 56 kilobits per second?

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