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March 2006
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The Agitator and SWAT Teams

Radley Balko at The Agitator continues to be one of the most important reads out there. He’s got tons of posts and pictures from his recent trip to investigate the Cory Maye case.
He and I are in total agreement regarding the improper use of military-style tactics against American citizens in the name of the drug war (or for other reasons for that matter). That led me to my Drug War Victims page, and him to his continuing series on Paramilitary Police Raids.
Today he discusses SWAT teams further, and it’s a good post. Here’s an excerpt:

We also need to ask ourselves, quite simply, if we want to live in a society where its appropriate to serve warrants on nonviolent offenders with cops dressed in battle garb. I sure as hell don’t. Does a pot smoker really deserve to have his door beaten down while he’s sleeping? To be sworn at, forced to the ground at gunpoint, and handcuffed? Go back to that Churchill quote: “Democracy means that when there’s a knock at the door at 4 am, it’s probably the milkman.” What does it mean that we’ve reached the point where not only can we no longer be sure it’s actually the milkman, but that police don’t even bother to knock?
Factor in the fact that many of these raids are conducted on evidence as flimsy as a single tip from a single confidential informant, who may have given that tip in exchange for drugs, money, or leniency with respect to his own drug charges, and judges who’ve turned warrant applictations into a rubber-stamp process, and you’ve effectively created a police state. Cops can break down your door in the middle of the night barely any evidence at all. They can terrorize your family at gunpoint. And even when they make a mistake (and they often do), there’s rarely if any disciplinary action taken, or changes in procedure to made to make sure the same mistakes don’t happen again. The best example of that is the fact that the same mistakes do continue to happen. Over and over.

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