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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

 
The War at Home

by digby

I've written reams about this issue over the years and great journalists like Radley Balko have written entire books. The militarization of the police is a national emergency and it's not getting any better. We've got to do something with all that hardware we've paid for, right?

Here, Balko lays out some bullet points from the just released report by the ACLU on the use of military style SWAT tactics in the land of the free:
62 percent of the SWAT raids surveyed were to conduct searches for drugs.

Just under 80 percent were to serve a search warrant, meaning eight in 10 SWAT raids were not initiated to apprehend a school shooter, hostage taker, or escaped felon (the common justification for these tactics), but to investigate someone still only suspected of committing a crime.

In fact, just 7 percent of SWAT raids were “for hostage, barricade, or active shooter scenarios.”

In at least 36 percent of the SWAT raids studies, no contraband of any kind was found. The report notes that due to incomplete police reports on these raids this figure could be as high as 65 percent.

SWAT tactics are disproportionately used on people of color.

65 percent of SWAT deployments resulted in some sort of forced entry into a private home, by way of a battering ram, boot, or some sort of explosive device. In over half those raids, the police failed to find any sort of weapon, the presence of which was cited as the reason for the violent tactics.

Ironically (or perhaps not), searches to serve warrants on people suspected of drug crimes were more likely to result in forced entry than raids conducted for other purposes.

Though often justified for rare incidents like school shootings or terrorist situations, the armored personnel vehicles police departments are getting from the Pentagon and through grants from the Department of Homeland Security are commonly used on drug raids.
To keep this simple, the police are commonly raiding private homes dressed like commandos, using military equipment to search for drugs.

This certainly disproves the gun nuts' starry-eyed view that guns can can defend from the government. If they do happen to come under suspicion (usually for drugs) they'll almost certainly get themselves killed in raids like these.

You can read the whole report here. It's ... sobering.

Update: This is really sobering --- a first person account by the mother of that poor little boy who was sleeping in his crib and had his chest blown up by a flash grenade by a SWAT team entering the house in the middle of the night. It was a drug raid. They found no drugs. And hadn't bothered to check if there were any kids in the home.

My husband’s nephew, the one they were looking for, wasn’t there. He doesn’t even live in that house. After breaking down the door, throwing my husband to the ground, and screaming at my children, the officers – armed with M16s – filed through the house like they were playing war. They searched for drugs and never found any.

I heard my baby wailing and asked one of the officers to let me hold him. He screamed at me to sit down and shut up and blocked my view, so I couldn’t see my son. I could see a singed crib. And I could see a pool of blood. The officers yelled at me to calm down and told me my son was fine, that he’d just lost a tooth. It was only hours later when they finally let us drive to the hospital that we found out Bou Bou was in the intensive burn unit and that he’d been placed into a medically induced coma.


These sorts of "mistakes" aren't entirely rare, unfortunately.

And remember, these raids are almost all about drugs, not hostages or crazed gunmen. Drugs.

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