Have you ever been witness to a SWAT raid? Let me tell you, it's RATHER exhilarating. There's nothing quite like hearing footsteps outside your bedroom at 4am, walking to your window to see who's out there, only to be greeted by the image of a man in full riot gear, holding a M-16 that is now pointed in your direction, screaming at you to get away from the window. Groggy and frightened, you stumble back just in time to be dropped by the sounds of flash-bang grenades being lobbed into the windows of the upstairs neighbor's unit.
Another victory in the War Against Drugs? Action taken to protect the lives of officers? Whatever you may call it, I call it overkill.
When things have quieted down just a bit, you again venture to the window, curious about what, exactly, is going on. Out toward the alley, you see a vehicle that looks like a mini-tank, right down to the camo. You see nearly a dozen officers dawning black from head to toe, holding some awfully big guns. Directly outside your front door, you see occupants of the apartment being tossed to the ground face first after having been recklessly dragged down the cement stairs leading to their home and before being zip-tied and left to wait on their bellies for what will likely amount to more abuse. Your stomach is sickened by the sight of a middle-aged, 100lb Asian woman being dropped listlessly from a couple feet up, her head bouncing off the pavement she landed on.
Believe it or not, my distaste for SWAT raids is only magnified by my personal experience. There are much more pervasive and principled reasons for opposing the militarization of police precincts across the nation.
At least, in my experience, the targets of the raid were actually drug-dealers. Non-violent offenders, they were still subjected to weapons and treatment best left reserved for out-and-out warfare. Can you imagine being innocent and suffering from a SWAT raid? I think I'd rather be raped, personally.
SourceOn September 4, 1998, for example, police in Charlotte, North Carolina, deployed a flashbang grenade and carried out a no-knock warrant based on a tip that someone in the targeted home was distributing cocaine. When police got inside, they found a group of men playing cards. One of them, 56-year-old Charles Irwin Potts, was carrying a handgun, which he owned and carried legally. Potts was not the target of the raid. He had visited the house to play a game of cards. Police say Potts drew his gun and pointed it at them as they entered, at which time they opened fire, killing Potts with four shots to the chest. The three men in the house who saw the raid say the gun never left Potts’s holster. Police found no cocaine in the home, and made no arrests.
The men inside the house at the time of the raid thought criminals were invading them. “Only thing I heard was a big boom,” said Robert Junior Hardin, the original target of the raid. “The lights went off and then they came back on . . . everybody reacted. We thought the house was being robbed.” Despite Potts’s death, an internal investigation found no wrongdoing on the part of the raiding officers.
Every year in America, HUNDREDS of innocent households are the targets of mistaken SWAT raids. Homes are literally torn apart in the search for evidence. Innocent people are injured and killed. Children are permanently scarred by the images of boogeyman-like individuals violently invading their home and abusing their parents.
Lazy police work combined with tips from questionable "informants" lead to warrants that are hastily executed and victimise upstanding citizens.
In my opinion, there is absolutely no justification for local police departments using this level of force to pursue tips. SWAT teams should be reserved for the most extreme circumstances a police force encounters, if they should even exist at all.
This man is suing the police department for mistakenly raiding his home.
An increasingly common occurance, these men staged a drug raid to illegally gain access to a home.
A woman was killed and her baby shot during raid.