13 November 2007


A post over by Wyatt, as well as a thread on the High Road, got me to thinkin'. And, as you all know, that's NEVER a good thing...

Now, this is gonna ramble a bit. But don't worry, we'll get there...

We seem to be having an issue in our society with something called a "no-knock warrant". This is where the police show up at a house where wrongdoers supposedly are, announce "WE"RE HERE!", then bust the door in and preform a "dynamic entry". The main issues I'm talking about here are two:

1)Cops get shot while doing this

2)Sometimes, the police get a wrong address, resulting in an innocent citizen getting scared silly/hurt/killed

Sound like a good battle-plan to ANYONE? Add in that, in many cases, the reason a no-knock is used is to "preserve evidence"...

Isn't there a better way?

Creating the problem in issue one are the "insubstantial" dangers of police work: lil' things like IA, tort lawyers, and political-minded superiors (not to mention trigger-happy bad guys). Quite often, officers conducting a raid have the question bouncing in the back of their head "is it (legally) safe for me to shoot?"... sometimes while being shot at. And all of the above-mentioned (as well as news reporters and John Q Citizen) are going to second-guess whatever decision Officer Friendly makes while under fire.

Usually, the question ("Was deadly force necessary in this situation?") will be self-answered ("No... Officer Friendly should have come up with a different solution while the suspect was attempting to kill him."). This is not optimal (read: "This sucks the sweat off a dead man's balls!")...

With problem two, we have a whole 'nother ball of wax: places where no-knocks (with attendant "dynamic entry") are used, but the wrong address is arrived at. Compounding that are the would-be home invaders who will shout "POLICE!!!" while breaking down their victim's door. Let's address those as points A (wrong address) and B (goblins).

A) Wrong address. Rumor has it, the Baltimore PD has so many occassions of mistaken no-knocks, that the city has a crew whose job is to repair damage done during such mistaken raids. Wow...

Some are also familiar with the Atlanta case, where a mistaken no-knock resulted in the death of an innocent citizen, and was followed up by a police cover-up (and there are quite a few cases lying around that can be pointed to demonstrating the inherent danger in these raids to innocent citizens). Yes, the number of "bad" no knocks is a percentage of all no-knocks. But, if we applied the same "reliability requirements" to such warrants as we do to our defensive arms, such warrants would be an absolute last-line...

B) goblins. Bad guys pretending to be good guys. Lemmie set the stage:

It' early AM, and you've just been woken by something heavy breaking in your front door. You've taught yourself to grab your defensive tools (in this case, a handgun and flashlight), and assume a defensive position (say, kneeling beside the bed with your weapon aimed at the door). Folks come busting through said door: all you can really say is that there are lights, folks shouting, and man-shapes. What do you do? are they:

a)Police officers, conducting a no-knock warrant at your address (possibly based on bad intel)? Or

b)Bad guys preforming a home invasion, while impersonating officers?

some decision to face, huh?

So let's think about this again. We're going to have our police conduct actions that automatically put them at heightened risk, and have a track-record of having severe (sometimes deadly) mistakes, all to preserve evidence (that we might be able to save some other way)?

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

When this gets discussed on internet fora, the world polarizes into two camps. Those (usually non-officers) who feel there's just too much blatant police power, and those (usually police) who feel that officers have too many restrictions, and that the few anecdotes of "bad raids" shouldn't be mentioned.

To an extent, both are right

To my mind, no-knocks have a VERY specific place: when someone's life is IMMEDIATELY in danger, and that's the only way to save them. At no other time does the risk (on all sides) justify their use. ESPECIALLY not simply for "the preservation of evidence"... we can come up with something better. By the same token...

Support the police in legal activities (this is kinda two-part). (CITIZENS) Don't automatically assume that the police are acting like latter-day SS, looking for Jews. And (POLICE): don't "cover" for illegal actions/sloppy work/mistakes. This "thin blue line" stuff? It creates an "Us v Them" atmosphere, which doesn't need to exist...

Of course, I have to ask: why ARE no-knocks still used (and being used more frequently)? And I think the answer can be found in the No-Knock to End All No-Knocks: Waco. Yep... there are a LOT of better ways these things could be handled. But those in positions of real authority want flash and splash. "Who cares if a few peons (uniformed or otherwise) get hurt? We'll show 'em all who's boss, by Gawd!"

And THAT idea scares the Hell out of me.

1 comment:

Sevesteen said...

Much of the no-knock problem could be solved by legalizing drugs. Let the addicts OD on unlimited heroin at free-market prices, they will make less of a mess than the current laws cause.