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Old March 10, 2009, 11:19 PM   #51
BobH
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No-Knock Warrants Fly in the Face of the Constitution

Quote:
No-knock warrants being served at the wrong address and the homeowner ending up dead is common. There should never be another one issued. If the person has drugs they will be leaving the house eventually so it can be searched while it's empty or they can be apprehended as they leave. There is no reason to bust in the door at 3am other than a vulgar display of unnecessary force.
I agree with Wuchak!

I have great difficulty imagining a circumstance wherein some other tactic wouldn't be better than a no-knock warrant. If prosecutors and LE can't find ways to do their jobs without trampling so dangerously close to basic civil rights, then we need better prosecutors and LE. If no-knock is ever truly needed, then I want the SCOTUS justices to unanimously sign the warrant and send in the National Guard from a remote state.

I'm an old man too near his alloted 3-score-and-10. I've seen too many in prosecutorial and enforcement positions who were not competent to serve a NKW and too many judges too corrupt to be trusted to sign them. I have also found that those in LE who are competent are too often zealots too eager to follow orders - too reminiscent of many in Germany all those decades ago. Show me the efficacy of NKW's! Show me the statistics that justify their use! Show me how they have reduced crime, terrorism or corruption!

The War on Drugs has been a crock! Look at the record. If it was a war we lost! Declare it over or change the tactics! Only fools repeat failed behaviors and expect different results. Those who declared it a war and chose the strategies and tactics should all be adjudged incompetents. It is time for different principals, different strategies, and different tactics. If gangs and drugs from overseas are a threat to Americans, lets declare war on and attack the countries that are exporting the gangs and the drugs. Nothing short of that will make any real difference. If you're unwilling to take these draconian steps politically, don't try to use these problems to impose draconian civil actions. It is a ruse and poor excuse for incompetent solutions.

I've gotten too old to continue to delude myself with anything other than realistic solutions regardless of how dire the consequence or who will be offended. Give me no fuzzy logic, feel good puff pieces or politically correct attacks on my freedom of speech, thank you.
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Old March 11, 2009, 03:30 AM   #52
longrifles, Inc
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I've scoured this entire thread hanging on every word. Some smart folks here. Much smarter than I am although that doesn't say much.

Quote:
The War on Drugs has been a crock! Look at the record. If it was a war we lost! Declare it over or change the tactics! Only fools repeat failed behaviors and expect different results. Those who declared it a war and chose the strategies and tactics should all be adjudged incompetents. It is time for different principals, different strategies, and different tactics. If gangs and drugs from overseas are a threat to Americans, lets declare war on and attack the countries that are exporting the gangs and the drugs. Nothing short of that will make any real difference. If you're unwilling to take these draconian steps politically, don't try to use these problems to impose draconian civil actions. It is a ruse and poor excuse for incompetent solutions.
I personally find this bit to be especially moving. (along with the rest of his post)

After reading all this and investing a little more time to researching the subject I too would have to conclude that unannounced warrants carry far more risk than reward. There are too many instances where it has failed miserably. Law Enforcement has the obligation to make a reasonable effort to ensure information is credible and that clearly isn't happening. This has resulted into a fundamental breakdown of their charter; "To serve and protect." Looking at it in comparison to the militaristic point of view its understood that not all intelligence is going to be accurate during the course of a war. The dynamics of combat allow for this in some fashion in the form of collateral damage. The pilot that targets the wrong building, the stray bullet that finds its way into the elementary school, etc. .. I can accept that and the amnesty that goes with it when engaged in war fighting.

This however is law enforcement and the collateral damage involves the citizens of the United States of America. It doesn't matter that the guy is black, white, orange, or green. It doesn't matter that his credit sucks or if his job is shoveling excrement from a clogged sewer for a living. He's a fellow countryman. If there's anyplace on this globe where that should mean something its right here outside your front door. We are the greatest country in the history of mankind and I say we need to remind ourselves of that fact by abolishing these kinds of barbaric practices.

History is repeating itself as all we've done here is trade red trench coats for police uniforms.

Chad Dixon

Last edited by longrifles, Inc; March 11, 2009 at 04:01 AM.
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Old March 11, 2009, 04:06 AM   #53
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Quote:
There are too many instances where it has failed miserably.
Really? Whats the percentage?

Quote:
For those who have never written or executed a search warrant, I would suggest reading some to see the amount of work that goes into them.
The screechers and preachers wont do that, it ruins their preconcieved idea of idyllic yeoman being terrorized by JBTs

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Old March 11, 2009, 04:07 AM   #54
BillCA
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Almost all of the posts, so far, have argued the wrong approach. Most of the discussion has been about "What can/should/would I do if the cops barge in." A few have discussed abolishing no-knock warrants (NKWs).

But there's a different solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mskdgunman
As for hitting the wrong house, I have never personally seen how it can be done if you (as the officer writing/executing the warrant) do your job properly. We've all heard the horror stories so it does happen but thankfully, it's the exception. As mentioned by another poster, if you are on the receiving end of one of these exceptions, the best course of action is to cooperate immediately. Any attempts to do otherwise will be dealt with. Remember that we don't know at that time that we're in the wrong house and will just assume that you're a BG with a gun and take the necessary action.
Mskdgunman gets it right up front. The police must be legally accountable for doing their job correctly. The sad part is that Mskdgunman closes with "we don't know we're in the wrong house..." which is total utter bovine apples.

In today's computerized, digitized, cross-referenced world, there are ZERO excuses for raiding the wrong house. Most cities and counties keep detailed maps of their streets, buildings and residences. Aerial mapping surveys are easily availble from several sources in full color and high resolution detail. GPS detail can give you the precise location (within 6 ft) of the front door.

The officers swearing out the complaint are the primary responsibles. THEY are accountable for validating the information is correct. THEY are responsible for ensuring ALL the documents bear the correct full address and location requirements. THEY are responsible for pledging their names and reputations that the information meets all legal and civil standards. Whomever presents the information to the judge and fabricates any statement or evidence or lies when he is unsure of an answer has his head in the noose too.

Warrants require an oath, under penalty of perjury, that the person writing the warrant request has put forth true and correct statements. It's not enough to say the info is true & correct because came from officer Frecklebelly via radio - and gosh, he wouldn't lie about it.

Remember that warrants were originally required because King George's men would routinely ransack the homes of dissidents and their supporters, just to cause hardships. Now they include door-busting trigger-ready paramilitary types.

Quote:
Originally Posted by travlin
They claimed it wasn't their fault because they got bad information from an informant. We all know how reliable criminals and drug dealers are. I think several cops up the line of command should have been fired. These raids need to end.
But I posit that is is their (the police's) fault. I have never known a judge comfortable with issuing a warrant on the accusation of a single informant, especially a drug user or dealer. Judges usually want see that police have observed the location for some time or have other supporting evidence.

I should add here that once a warrant has been issued, it's sometimes handed to SWAT to execute. In some department the case officers are not present or because of their "undercover" status, they're absent. But that does not excuse the raid team if they get the wrong address. There should be no excuses.

There should be no excuses as to which unit of a Duplex is the raid target. The raid target should be positively identified as the location of some suspected illegality before the warrant is issued. Each and every officer should be able to identify the target house on sight and distinguish it from a neighboring house.

If a raid goes south because the raid team hit the wrong house, then ALL of those officers should be relieved of duty pending investigation and any prosecution. At the very least, the raid commander is responsible for any illegal conduct.

If it's found that the warrant itself was faulty - bad information presented to the judge - the officers requesting the warrant are on the hook for perjury and any injuries or damage. This includes typographical errors like omiting the N-S-E-W portions of a street name, jumbling up the street number or naming the wrong apartment.

If this sounds unworkable to LEOs, that's too damn bad.
Do the work. Do everything to safeguard the innocent.

If a homeowner enters his garage from inside the house and is suddenly confronted by a figure holding a metallic object and he kills the 16 y/o neighbor kid, in many states the homeowner will be charged with homicide. He doesn't get the excuse that the kid's cell phone or flashlight looked like a gun. He's accused of shooting too fast. Likewise he doesn't get to claim "he didn't know" the kid was returning his son's baseball glove at 11:30pm. For the police to say "We didn't know..." when they have multiple resources and an entire city government to use is just ludicrous.
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Old March 11, 2009, 04:21 AM   #55
longrifles, Inc
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Quote:
Really? Whats the percentage?
Does it matter? Whether it's 1% or 99%, it's still someone sitting in their home minding their own business and being assaulted by LE. That is unacceptable.

What percentage of rape is acceptable then? Child abuse? Robbery? Murder?

Crime is crime and this is a criminal act.
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Old March 11, 2009, 09:16 AM   #56
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I love how people are very comfortable saying there is no chance a homeowner would be able to sensibly react with firearms in this situation when they are awoken in the middle of the night, then come back and post that if it happens we should have the awareness and time to think for us to realize it is the police and decide not to react.

Am I the only one that sees the contradiction in these views?

I also think there is a huge difference in how people sleep. There was a raccon on the roof outside my window last night that woke me up. I did not realize what was going on when i woke up, only that something was moving around outside my window. I would guess within five seconds and certainly within ten seconds of being conscious I had my shotgun on the window. Was I groggy? Yes. Was I operating at 100%? Certainly not. Was I able to cover the few feet to my shotgun, chamber a round, and shoulder my shotgun? yes.

If I had beenin my recliner, with my CCW gun holstered on the coffee table, front door around the corner, which is not abnormal at lunch, I have to believe I would have had it up much faster and if a no knock warrant was executed on my premises someone would have been shot.

Like others have pointed out, there has to be a better way to do this.
There are obviously judges ordering these warrant with on CI.
There are obviously officers not doing their job correctly, even if most do.


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Old March 11, 2009, 09:59 AM   #57
Wagonman
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Quote:
Do the work. Do everything to safeguard the innocentIf this sounds unworkable to LEOs, that's too damn bad.
.

The idea that I can operate in good faith and there are people on this board that would advocate my prosecution makes me much more comfortable in the concept of De-policing that is all the rage in Police circles.

If the Police act maliciously or knowingly illegally, fine, game on. But, the idea that I make a typo I am going to criminally charged is disgusting.

You will definately get the society you are asking for.

No reasonable Copper wants to hit the wrong house. There should be some sanction for errors,, but let's be reasonable.

Quote:
Does it matter? Whether it's 1% or 99%, it's still someone sitting in their home minding their own business and being assaulted by LE. That is unacceptable
It obviously does matter. It is not a criminal act. One of the standards for a criminal act is to act intentionally. Going to an address that you reasonably believe is the correct address to serve a Warrant is not criminal.

The iinstances you are talking about are almost statistically zero. I go back to the 50 cal analogy

To make a major issue about the rare occurence is not productive.

Last edited by Wagonman; March 11, 2009 at 10:10 AM.
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Old March 11, 2009, 10:38 AM   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagonman
...the Leftist Cato institute...
I'm sorry, but that may be the single funniest thing I've ever read on the intertubes. "That pinko commie Milton Friedman!"

Anyhow...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wagonman
I have been involved with quite a few search warrants and there is NO way you can mistake a SWAT team with a intruder.
A full SRT turn-out on a no-knock is a lot less likely to get mistaken than a bunch of detectives in raid jackets on a "knock-and-announce" that plays fast and loose with the "-and-announce" part. Of course, in my sleep-fuzzled state, I'd have a hard time differentiating between the two, anyway. Given the proximity of the .357 to me and my likelihood of reaching for it at the sounds of yelling and running feet in the house before I really have processed what's going down, I'm going to get lit up like a Christmas tree by some guy's M4.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildalaska
The likelihood of an innocent person getting home invaded by fake cops is equal to the odds of finding Rosie ODonnel in bed with Wayne Lapierre
So, you're telling me that the odds of my employees down at the cop shop kicking my door open by mistake is greater than the odds of criminals doing it on purpose? This is supposed to be reassuring, then, right?
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Old March 11, 2009, 10:42 AM   #59
hogdogs
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Wagonman, I must say then, to the part about a home invasion committed by LEO's not being criminal, that if I want to prank a buddy and have actors kick in his door as a spoof but the actors miss read a 5 for a 6 and pull the prank on the wrong address they also should [edit... forgot the word... NOT ]be criminally responsible nor should I?
Badge holders should be held to a higher level of responsibility and are citizens in a job.
As a pest control tech I could be civilly liable for spraying the wrong yard and could be charged with trespassing as well. Why should your career be any different?
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Old March 11, 2009, 10:52 AM   #60
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Apparently it's not that hard to get these type of warrants in a lot of parts of the country and an alarming number of them are issued on fabricated or very sketchy information. If you don't want to read the excellent article below after it I have posted a number of the short accounts from the CATO site I linked to earlier. If they don't make your blood run cold you need help. The MSM loves to complain about civilian casualties in Iraq yet there is no national outcry over the hundreds of innocent Americans that have been slaughtered in their homes by corrupt and inept police forces nationwide. Also disturbing is that the rise in these warrants parallels the rise in the number of SWAT teams. In the early 80's there were about 3000 no knock warrants annually, today there are over 50,000. It's the favorite tactic of the increasingly militarized police forces nationwide.
-----
‘No-Knock’ Searches Get People Killed by Vin Suprynowicz
http://www.lewrockwell.com/suprynowi...ynowicz66.html
Last week, we were asking how police found themselves in the bedroom of a naked couple in Lancaster, Calif., in 2001, guns drawn.

This led to a discussion of the problem with "no-knock" – or even "shout-once-and-storm-in" – search warrants.

On Nov. 21 of last year, Atlanta police planted marijuana on Fabian Sheats, a "suspected street dealer." They told Sheats they would let him go if he "gave them something." Sheats obligingly lied that he had spotted a kilogram of cocaine nearby, giving them the address of the elderly spinster Miss Kathryn Johnston, who neither used nor dealt drugs, but who did live in fear of break-ins in her crime-infested neighborhood.

Police then lied to a judge, claiming they had actually purchased drugs at the Johnston house, acquired one of those once-rare "no-knock" warrants, and violently battered down the reinforced metal door of a private home where there were no drugs.

Miss Johnston fired a warning shot at the unknown people busting down her door. That bullet lodged in the roof of her porch, injuring no one. Police replied by firing 39 rounds at her, hitting her five times, and wounding each other with another five rounds – though they lied and said they’d been shot by Miss Johnston.

They then handcuffed the old woman as she bled to death on the floor, and searched her house. Finding no drugs, they planted three bags of marijuana.

Next day, the cops picked up one Alex White, an informant, advising him that they needed him to lie, saying that he had purchased cocaine at Johnston’s house. White refused, managed to escape, and went to the media with the story.

Last month, two of those officers pleaded guilty to manslaughter – in deals which helped them escape murder charges – and now face more than 10 years in prison, after authorities demonstrated they lied to get their warrant.

Greg Jones of the Atlanta FBI office said at a news conference that the FBI is investigating "additional allegations of corruption that Atlanta police officers may have engaged in similar conduct."

Fulton County district attorney Paul Howard said he has started to review hundreds of other cases involving Officers Jason Smith and Gregg Junnier; convictions may be overturned. Last week, Police Chief Richard Pennington transferred his entire narcotics squad to other duties, contending his department would review its policy on "no-knock" warrants and its use of confidential informants. That "review" and seven bucks will get you a fancy cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Officer Smith’s attorney, John Garland, said his client "was trained to lie by fellow officers to establish probable cause."

Meantime, a black man named Cory Maye was still sitting on death row in Mississippi, the last I heard, because he heard men trying to break into his Prentiss, Miss. home late at night in December of 2001, where he was alone with his 18-month-old baby daughter.

Mr. Maye, who had no criminal record, got the child down onto the floor and lay down beside her to protect her. When one of the men finally broke into the bedroom, Cory Maye shot and killed him.

The man was hit in the abdomen, just below his bulletproof vest, and died a short time later. It turns out the man who had failed to knock and identify himself before breaking in was a cop, who was really after suspects in the other half of the duplex where Cory Maye lived. Turns out the cop was the white son of the white chief of police. An all-white jury sentenced Cory Maye, who is black, to death for exercising his right to defend his locked home and family against violent invasion by an unknown intruder. The all-white jury took only a few hours to do so, at least one juror explaining he wanted to get home for supper.

The list of such abuses goes on and on – without even mentioning the dozens of innocent women and children who eventually died thanks to the bungled and totally unnecessary 1993 BATF "incredibly-no-knock" raid on the Branch Davidian Church in Waco, Texas, whose residents (including Wayne Martin, a black Harvard Law School graduate) had previously demonstrated they would cheerfully cooperate with any law enforcement officer who merely knocked at the door and asked to see their guns.

(At Waco, the agents shot a dog and her puppies in their outdoor pen before they even got to the front door. Agents in National Guard helicopters – their ban from such actions on U.S. soil bypassed by the simple expedient of filling out sworn and thoroughly laughable affidavits claiming there was a "meth lab" inside a Christian church full of women and children – shot down through the roof, killing a nursing mother inside as her infant played by her bedside. When the unarmed Rev. David Koresh opened the front door to say, "Wait a minute, there are women and children here, let’s talk," agents fired at him, hitting his unarmed father-in-law, who stood behind him. Later, agents couldn’t even remember who carried the warrant. No one even CLAIMED they tried to "serve" it.)

For a partial rundown, see "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America" by Cato Institute analyst Radley Balko along with the accompanying "map of botched paramilitary raids."

Charles P. Garcia, in "The Knock and Announce Rule: A New Approach to the Destruction-of-Evidence Exception," 1993, reports: "In 1970, the Nixon administration declared a ‘War on Drugs.’ The Justice Department urged Congress to enact a comprehensive anti-drug strategy and suggested that a general ‘no-knock’ provision could constitutionally be added to aid in enforcement. ...

"The ‘no-knock’ experience lasted four years. ... During the four-year period when ‘no-knock’ warrants were issued, horror stories were legion. ... In an exhaustive eight-week investigation by The New York Times, consisting of interviews with victims of ‘no-knock’ raids, reporters found that ‘Innocent Americans around the country have been subject to dozens of mistaken, violent and often illegal police raids by local, state and Federal narcotics agents in search of illicit drugs and their dealers.’

"In Florida, complaints of police harassment during drug searches were so overwhelming that Legal Services of Greater Miami was unable to handle the caseload. In Virginia, a terror-stricken woman, a previous burglary victim, shot and killed a young police officer executing a ‘no-knock’ warrant as he burst into her bedroom in the middle of the night."

(Astonishingly, no prosecution resulted, so far as I’ve been able to learn. The old woman, waiting terrified behind her closed bedroom door, had repeatedly called out, "Who’s in my house?" As with Chief Pennington in Atlanta, the bereaved Virginia chief said he would "review" his department’s use of no-knock warrants.)

"In California," Mr. Garcia continues, "one father was shot through the head as he sat in a living room cradling his infant son. Both the woman and the man were totally innocent of any wrongdoing. The federal ‘no-knock’ warrants were so disruptive that Congress repealed them four years later ... once again making ‘no-knock’ searches illegal under the federal ‘knock-and-announce’ rule."

So: what were those L. A. sheriff’s deputies doing in that bedroom in Lancaster, Calif., forcing Max Rettele and Judy Sadler to crawl out of bed naked, pointing guns at their heads and screaming and not allowing them even to grab a sheet or blanket to cover their nakedness?

The African-American suspects – who had moved – were sought for "identity theft," not a violent crime. There was no suspected "stash" that could be flushed down a toilet.

So why didn’t police knock at that door at suppertime, allowing the clothed couple to come to the door and calmly read their warrant before inviting police in to look around and confirm that the three African-Americans that police sought no longer lived there?

"While the facts in this case are unusual, not to say humorous," chuckled the reliably pro-police-state Los Angeles Times in an editorial last week, "the bottom line is important: Even when police follow the law, pursuit of the guilty will sometimes inconvenience – and embarrass – the innocent."

Oh, ha ha. Naked in their own bedroom. A little embarrassment. A little inconvenience. Chuckle chuckle.

And if Max Rettele and Judy Sadler had been armed? If they had opened fire on those gun-brandishing home invaders – as the terrified innocent victims Kathryn Johnston and Cory Maye did? If both that innocent couple and one or two pumped-up L.A. County sheriff’s deputies had ended up dead on the bedroom floor that early morning, would the Times still find it all so amusing?

June 4, 2007
----------------------------------------------------------------

Here are some of the stories from the Cato map site http://www.cato.org/raidmap/ Under the map is a set of filters and you will see the stories for each incident listed under this box. For these stories I filtered on Death of an innocent.

Kathryn Johnston

November 21, 2006—GA

Acting on a tip from a confidential informant, police conduct a no-knock raid on the home of 88 year old Kathryn Johnston.

Johnston, described by neighbors as feeble and afraid to open her door at night, opens fire on officers as they burst into her home. Three of the officers are wounded before Johnston is shot and killed.

Relatives say that Johnston lived alone, and legally owned a gun because she was fearful of intruders. She lived in the home for 17 years. Police claim that they find a small amount of marijuana in Johnston's home, but none of the cocaine, computers, money, or equipment described in the affidavit that was used to obtain a warrant.

There are now allegations of a police cover-up.

-----
Cheryl Lynn Noel

January 21, 2005—MD

Baltimore County, Maryland police descend on a home in the Dundalk neighborhood at around 5 a.m. on a narcotics warrant. They deploy a flashbang grenade, then quickly subdue the first-floor occupants -- a man and two young adults.

When officers enter the second-floor bedroom of Cheryl Llynn Noel, they break open the door to find the middle-aged woman in her bed, frightened, and pointing a handgun at them. One officer fires three times. Noel dies at the scene.

Friends and acquaintances described Noel as "a wonderful person," who ran a Bible study group on her lunch breaks. One man collected 200 signatures from friends, neighbors, and coworkers vouching for her character.

Officers conducted the raid after finding marijuana seeds in the Noels' garbage can.


-----
Alberta Spruill

May 16, 2003—NY

On May 16, 2003, a dozen New York City police officers storm an apartment building in Harlem on a no-knock warrant. They're acting on a tip from a confidential informant, who told them a convicted felon was dealing drugs and guns from the sixth floor.

There is no felon. The only resident in the building is Alberta Spruill, described by friends as a "devout churchgoer." Before entering the apartment, police deploy a flashbang grenade. The blinding, deafening explosion stuns the 57 year-old city worker, who then slips into cardiac arrest. She dies two hours later.

A police investigation would later find that the drug dealer the raid team was looking for had been arrested days earlier. He couldn't possibly have been at Spruill's apartment because he was in custody. The officers who conducted the raid did no investigation to corroborate the informant's tip. A police source told the New York Daily News that the informant in the Spruill case had offered police tips on several occasions, none of which had led to an arrest. His record was so poor, in fact, that he was due to be dropped from the city's informant list.

Nevertheless, his tip on the ex-con in Spruill's building was taken to the Manhattan district attorney's office, who approved of the application for a no-knock entry. It was then taken to a judge, who issued the warrant resulting in Spruill's death. From tip to raid, the entire "investigation" and execution were over in a matter of hours.

Spruill's death triggered an outpouring of outrage and emotion in New York and inspired dozens of victims of botched drug raids, previously afraid to tell their stories, to come forward.

Still, the number of real, tangible reforms to result from the raid were few. Though the number of no-knocks in New York has by most indications declined, there's still no real oversight or transparency in how they're granted and carried out. And victims of botched raids still have no real recourse, other than to hope the media gets hold of their story.


-----

Tony Martinez

December 20, 2001—TX

On December 20, 2001, police in Travis County, Texas storm a mobile home on a no-knock drug warrant.

19-year-old Tony Martinez, nephew of the man named in the warrant, is asleep on the couch at the time of the raid. Martinez was never suspected of any crime. When Martinez rises from the couch as police break into the home, deputy Derek Hill shoots Martinez in the chest, killing him. Martinez is unarmed.

A grand jury later declined to indict Hill in the shooting. The shooting occurred less than a mile from the spot of a botched drug raid that cost Deputy Keith Ruiz his life. Hill was also on that raid. The same Travis County paramilitary unit would later erroneously raid a woman's home after mistaking ragweed for marijuana plants.


-----

John Adams


October 4, 2000—TN

On October 4, 2000 at about 10 p.m., police in Lebanon, Tennessee raid the home of 64-year-old John Adams on a drug warrant. In what Lebanon Police Chief Billy Weeks would later say was a "severe, costly mistake," police indentify the wrong house.

According to Adams' wife, police don't identify themselves after knocking on the couple's door. When she refuses to let them in, they break down the door, and handcuff her. Adams meets the police in another room with a sawed-off shotgun. Police open fire, and shoot Adams dead.

One officer would later be fired after the incident, and several others suspended, but no criminal charges would ever come of the raid. Adams' widow eventually won a $400,000 settlement from the city.


-----

Lynette Gayle Jackson

-----

Alberto Sepulveda


September 13, 2000—CA

Early in the morning on September 13, 2000, agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, the FBI, and the Stanislaus County, California drug enforcement agency conduct raids on 14 homes in and around Modesto, California after a 19-month investigation.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the DEA and FBI asked that local SWAT teams enter each home unannounced to secure the area ahead of federal agents, who would then come to serve the warrants and search for evidence. Federal agents warn the SWAT teams that the targets of the warrants, including Alberto Sepulveda's father Moises, should be considered armed and dangerous.

After police forcibly enter the Sepulveda home, Alberto, his father, his mother, his sister, and his brother are ordered to lie face down on the floor with arms outstretched. Half a minute after the raid begins, the shotgun officer David Hawn has trained on Alberto's head discharges, instantly killing the eleven-year-old boy.

No drugs or weapons are found in the home.

The Los Angeles Times later reports that when Modesto police asked federal investigators if there were any children present in the Sepulveda home, they replied, "not aware of any." There were three.

A subsequent internal investigation by the Modesto Police Department found that federal intelligence evidence against Moises Sepulveda -- who had no previous criminal record -- was "minimal." In 2002 he pled guilty to the last charge remaining against him as a result of the investigation -- using a telephone to distribute marijuana. The city of Modesto and the federal government later settled a lawsuit brought by the Sepulvedas for the death of their son for $3 million.

At first, Modesto Police Chief Roy Wasden seemed to be moved by Sepulveda's death toward genuine reform. "What are we gaining by serving these drug warrants?" Wasden is quoted as asking in the Modesto Bee. "We ought to be saying, 'It's not worth the risk. We're not going to put our officers and community at risk anymore.'"

Unfortunately, as part of the settlement with the Sepulvedas, while Modesto announced several reforms in the way its SWAT team would carry out drug raids, there was no mention of discontinuing the use of paramilitary units to conduct no-knock or knock-and-announce warrants on nonviolent drug offenders.


there are lots more like these at the Cato site
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Old March 11, 2009, 11:59 AM   #61
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It obviously does matter. It is not a criminal act. One of the standards for a criminal act is to act intentionally. Going to an address that you reasonably believe is the correct address to serve a Warrant is not criminal.

The iinstances you are talking about are almost statistically zero. I go back to the 50 cal analogy

When Dominos attempts to deliver your pizza to the wrong house because the driver reasonably believed he had good information you get a free pizza.

When the police do it you end up with bullets in the face.

Statistics? You really mean that? Statistics. That works for you? Statistically its unlikely you'll go down in a ball of flames the next time you fly commercially. So should an airframe mechanic not do his jobs because statistically nothing will happen? Should the pilot have that one beer before boarding because statistically it'll be out of his system by the time the wheels leave the ground?

Mince your words and hide behind your little verbal barricades all you want. The policy/law/whatever has no place in our society and you are the public enemy in this case if you endorse it. If you need more proof read the post above mine. Redcoats or blue level 4 vest, it makes no difference. Your not the military and gestapo tactics are not tolerated here.

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Old March 11, 2009, 12:55 PM   #62
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The policy/law/whatever has no place in our society and you are the public enemy in this case if you endorse it.
Count me, as well as numerous professionals in Law Enforcement, as your public enemy then.

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Old March 11, 2009, 01:11 PM   #63
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Mince your words and hide behind your little verbal barricades all you want. The policy/law/whatever has no place in our society and you are the public enemy in this case if you endorse it. If you need more proof read the post above mine. Redcoats or blue level 4 vest, it makes no difference. Your not the military and gestapo tactics are not tolerated here.
Is it because this is an election year that I keep seeing these sentiments?

Yes, it's happened. I'm not a fan of the whole "no knock" warrant thing, and I know that there have been mistakes, some of which led to disastrous outcomes. The men who did that are not the rule, but the exception.

That does not mean, however, that all police officers who serve these warrants are thugs or potential thugs. That type of stereotyping is counterproductive and unbecoming.

IF the police were to execute such a warrant on my house through some mistake and IF I were (able) to harm the people entering, I'm sure an army of attorneys would be willing to take my case. Provided I wasn't dead or on a respirator, that is.

It's just that the chance of that happening is about the same as getting bumped on the noggin by a meteorite. Like a rogue meteor, the chances that I'll be able to react in time are very, very slim.

So, I can run around with my head on fire, or I can choose not to worry about it. Should this become an everyday, widespread phenomenon in the Orwellian sense, I might think differently. Right now, though, I've simply got other priorities.
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Old March 11, 2009, 02:59 PM   #64
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Once More into the Breech!

This has been an excellent thread but very disturbing as well.

First, I refer you again (as I did in a separate post) to this site:

http://www.guncite.com/journals/okslip.html

It's a long and very thorough examination of the mechanics of how societies fall, or are pushed, down slippery slopes that deprive them of valuable and important civil rights. It uses the history of the loss of gun ownership rights in England as an example, but is really an examination of how it is an accumulation of small acts and failures to act that result in loss of rights and can very easily lead to tyranny. And, remember, well-intentioned tyranny is probably the worst kind! The relevance of this learned essay to NKW, SWAT, and my comments below should be evident.

My stance against the use of NKW and SWAT was a visceral thing, unrelated to informative data, until I started reading this thread. That there are now 50,000 NKW's and God only knows how many 'announce and enter' warrants annually is an abysmal black eye on the criminal justice system. All of you in LE risk becoming like minions at the lower level of the Gestapo who followed the direction of their superiors and left the thinking and value judgments to others. (NOTE: I did not here nor do I ever called LEOs the Gestapo; I merely point out how slippery some slopes are.) This issue - the increased militarization of LE - will indeed make LEOs the enemies of law-abiding, decent citizens if it is not stopped on constitutional grounds.

The parallels drawn to the Branch Davidian raid outside Waco,TX by Wuchak are as accurate as a Marine sniper! Before you dismiss me as a leftie or a kook, be advised that I visited the grounds of the Branch Davidian Compound within 18 months of the botched raid. At the time I was just idly curious, was in the neighborhood, and had the time. Like much of the nation I had seen some or most of the footage aired by the MSM. Because I 'didn't have a dog in the fight', I kind of figured that the tales about the aberration attributed to D. Koresh were the root cause and that the ATF and its confederates were guilty of little more than over-reacting to the death of their probing scout who was shown so many times being hit on the roof.

After my Sunday afternoon drop-in visit, my attention became much more focused. Standing there, I could not conceive of how the public peace could have been threatened, much less how or why the LEO could have wreaked such brutal, unnecessary havoc. BECAUSE OF THE REMOTE LOCATION AND LIMITED ROAD ACCESS THE BRANCH DAVIDIANS COULD ONLY HAVE BEEN A THREAT TO SOMEONE WHO ATTACKED THEM. A squad of old men could have held them at bay for months - long enough to have starved them out and peacefully resolved any issues at law that they might have infringed. NO PERSON OF REASONABLE INTELLECT COULD POSSIBLY CONCLUDE ANYTHING OTHER THAN THAT THE LOSS OF LIFE ON BOTH SIDES WAS DUE SOLELY TO THE ENORMOUSLY BAD AND HUGELY INCOMPETENT COMMAND AND CONTROL EXERTED BY THE FEDS!!!! I have since seen countless TV programs including interviews with some of the principals who put endless spin on their actions. All I can say is that they will find their punishment in HELL because it looks like they have avoided it in our society.

I have spoken at length with the now retired Texas Ranger Captain in whose district the site exists. His assessment - and I have come to agree with it entirely based on my own personal research - is that the BDs posed no threat to anyone, that the Rangers and local LE (county sheriff) knew about the alleged arsenal as it was being acquired and thought it legal and harmless, and THAT THERE WAS NEVER A NEED FOR A WARRANT OR A RAID BY THE FEDS. The county sheriff and Koresh were well known to each other and on friendly terms. The sheriff would have been welcomed at the compound for any on-site inspection and would have been given carte blanche. If the feds had not been so arrogant and so conceited and asked the locals and enlisted their aid to gain an invitation to inspect informally, IT NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED. THE ONLY ANALOGY I CAN DRAW IS THAT OF JACK-BOOTED NAZI LEOs, MORE CONCERNED ABOUT SATISFYING THEIR HUBRIS THAN ABOUT DOING THEIR JOB LAWFULLY.

In addition to the gross incompetence of the commanders on the ground, and their inability to control their troops - especially after one of their SWAT scouts got himself shot and killed by his own ill-conceived actions - there are at least 3 other reasons for everyone to become incensed over it. First, the ATF has been given powers that have been, at the very least, exerted excessively (if not arrantly abused). This organization needs to be disbanded and its charters integrated into other LEOs. Second, the extent to which the US military participated in the raid has never been examined fully and openly communicated to the American people. IMO use of the US military for civil LE should only be possible with a warrant from the SCOTUS justices and co-signed by POTUS! The use of 'support' is far, far more common and is virtually unconstrained by political accountability or public knowledge. Third, the action was supposedly approved after review by the Attorney General of the US. Either that review was so incompetent as to be classed 'criminal' or the judgment was based on a more far-reaching need to establish principal.

Remember, too, that the Oklahoma City bombing was a direct result of fear and loathing generated by the execrable performance at Waco. The OKC bombings were misguided, senseless, criminal and in no way excusable; but we must all remember that it was caused by LEO incompetence on a grand scale.

The fact that we are now all inured to the pain and shock of both Waco and OKC - and the fact that our federal government has spun to stories to their favor while the MSM has under-reported and failed to criticize those culpable - has just raised the water temperature and we frogs have not hopped out and demanded REAL CHANGE. The next step in the loss of civil liberty will be easier to accomplish because we haven't screamed BLOODY MURDER!
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Old March 11, 2009, 04:27 PM   #65
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Some things to think about.....wildinalaska wrote
"I would like to see some evidence of law abiding citizens being subjected to Home Invasion by folks masquerading as cops."
If someone starts trying to knock your door down, are you REALLY going to take the time to go to the window and see who it is?
I think the no-knock thing should be banned...period!! Too much chance of everyone getting hurt especially innocent people. If I was a LEO I would refuse to do it, and yep, I would probably be fired, but I wont compromize my beliefs for anyone.
I have worked with many retired LEO's and still employed LEO's and though there is good out there I have found many to be suffering from huge ego's. Many of them itching to have the rep of shooting someone, which is very dangerous. Not bashing at all, just what I have observed first hand.....Also, I think ANY citizen has more chance than any cop of getting shot period. Any criminal knows what happens to someone who shoots a cop. Is being a cop a dangerous job, sure, but so is driving a big truck, any quick shop clerk working third,....etc.
I think as someone else said to reinforce your entrances as much as you can so that it might buy you time to make the 911 call to verify the situation if someone tries to gain entrance to your home. I do know that bad guys are dressing up to recon your home and then return for criminal activity.
http://www.crimes-of-persuasion.com/...n_burglary.htm

Last edited by mtrain; March 11, 2009 at 04:43 PM. Reason: add
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Old March 11, 2009, 04:48 PM   #66
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The idea that I can operate in good faith and there are people on this board that would advocate my prosecution makes me much more comfortable in the concept of De-policing that is all the rage in Police circles.

If the Police act maliciously or knowingly illegally, fine, game on. But, the idea that I make a typo I am going to criminally charged is disgusting.
If I understand your statement correctly, you think its not that bad for a cop to kill an innocent person, provided it really was an accident? You think an accidental killing by a cop should not be a crime? You Sir, disturb me deeply, and I hope to never visit the city where you claim to be an officer.
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Old March 11, 2009, 08:28 PM   #67
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De-Policing

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The idea that I can operate in good faith and there are people on this board that would advocate my prosecution makes me much more comfortable in the concept of De-policing that is all the rage in Police circles.

Quote:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

De-policing is a "law enforcement strategy in which police avoid accusations of racial profiling by ignoring traffic violations and other petty crimes committed by members of visible minorities." 1 In a sense de-policing is the opposite of racial profiling.

De-policing represents a de-facto police strike, where the police withdraw an aspect of their crime prevention services. It is a practical police protest at perceived political interference in their day-to-day task of policing.

This sounds to me like someone on the public payroll refusing to do his/her job. That would - or should - be grounds for firing said public employee. Certainly, if I had ever refused to do my job as a political statement (I spent my career in the private sector) I would have been fired.

It is not enough to operate in good faith and exercise bad judgment, or worse. When anyone is given such power and authority, he had better be competent to handle it or be prepared to suffer the consequences. If you are not prepared for that, I suggest you resign before you do further harm.
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Old March 11, 2009, 09:55 PM   #68
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Wildalaska, some links for you:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...n225639D35.DTL
http://www.vbgov.com/vgn.aspx?vgnext...640aRCRD&ct=ne
http://danville-va.gov/l_police_medi...=3322&cid=4991
http://www.katu.com/news/18344944.html
http://myfloridalegal.com/newsrel.ns...25726D005695D7
Quote:
However, you are not that important that MS-13 is going to stage an assault on your home. To what end would the BGs expend all that time and money to assault your home
What time and money? All it takes is some mall ninja costumes and a drug habit. Do you ever read the newspapers?

BobH, good points.
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Old March 11, 2009, 11:37 PM   #69
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If I understand your statement correctly, you think its not that bad for a cop to kill an innocent person, provided it really was an accident? You think an accidental killing by a cop should not be a crime? You Sir, disturb me deeply, and I hope to never visit the city where you claim to be an officer.
Today 04:27 PM
You don't understand my statement correctly. Of course, it would be bad for an innocent person to be killed accidentally. It would be a "crime" however, what you miss is the totality of circumstances aspect of situations. A Police Officer REASONABLY carrying out his duties and something untoward happens should be ajudicated. But, the penalty if any should be very slight.

I have said from the beginning that NKWs that go awry are wrong and there should be administrative sanctions against Police Officers involved.
However, the piling on of hostility is concerning.

Quote:
This sounds to me like someone on the public payroll refusing to do his/her job. That would - or should - be grounds for firing said public employee. Certainly, if I had ever refused to do my job as a political statement (I spent my career in the private sector) I would have been fired.

It is not enough to operate in good faith and exercise bad judgment, or worse. When anyone is given such power and authority, he had better be competent to handle it or be prepared to suffer the consequences. If you are not prepared for that, I suggest you resign before you do further harm.
Today 04:48 PM
No it is not refusing to do my job. My job is to enforce laws, make arrests and document criminal activity.

There is a huge difference between answering my radio calls and patrolling my beat and doing Police work.

De-Policing is not a political statement it is being minimally observant of the climate you operate in
How dare you insinuate I am not prepared for the job I have been doing for over twelve years spent mostly in areas you would be hesitant to frequent.

Quote:
What time and money? All it takes is some mall ninja costumes and a drug habit. Do you ever read the newspapers?
Actually I don't read Newspapers anymore, way too liberal and sensational for me.

You are incorrect. there is a difference between several hypes and guys you might mistake for a bona fide SWAT team.

Last edited by Wagonman; March 11, 2009 at 11:45 PM.
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Old March 12, 2009, 12:26 AM   #70
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The idea that I can operate in good faith and there are people on this board that would advocate my prosecution makes me much more comfortable in the concept of De-policing that is all the rage in Police circles.

If the Police act maliciously or knowingly illegally, fine, game on. But, the idea that I make a typo I am going to criminally charged is disgusting.

You will definately get the society you are asking for.

No reasonable Copper wants to hit the wrong house. There should be some sanction for errors,, but let's be reasonable.
Okay... to you, it's only a typo. You "only" mistyped 2142 Pinewood instead of 2412 E. Pinewood. So, instead of sending the SWAT team to the gang-infested, run down neighborhood east of the interstate, they arrive at 2142 in the center of town to raid the home of an 62 y/o couple at 4 a.m. The man dies of a heart-attack while handcuffed. Is any government employee responsible for this man's death?

Or perhaps your "little typo" says to raid apartment 330 in building F of a large complex, but it's really building "G". Hey, F and G are next to each other on the keyboard... just a little mistake.

But during the raid where it's expected to find two adults, you find two adults and 2 children. And their 13 year old, manages to use an aluminum baseball bat to smash the first officer coming through their bedroom door and is gunned down in front of his 8 year old little brother. Oh, gee, it was just a "typo".

You see what I'm getting at?

My city has some common addresses on Parkview, Parkview Place, Parkview Terrace, Parkview Road and Parkview Street. Something I learned trying to track down someone. And all of these are within 3/4 mile of each other, roughly speaking. Failure of an officer to provide the correct and full address and and will lead to failure.

It is one thing to operate in "good faith" and follow all of the protocols necessary to obtain a no-knock warrant. It's quite another to "pass off" to another officer so that the most knowledgeable officer cannot be asked detailed questions by a judge (I've seen this one first hand).

Good faith is not only advocating for the police to get the warrant, but being mindful of "shading" your answers to help get the warrant at the expense of the public. When a judge asks if any children reside at the location, claiming "None have been observed" is misleading and dangerous if you have, in fact, observed child seats in one or more vehicles at the address or have seen youngster's bicycles outside. That answer may be truthful (none have been seen) but there is plenty of evidence that indicates kids are there.

The government cannot mandate two different standards of "perjury" - one for citizens and one for governmental employees. Your typo on the document becomes official when you sign that the information is true and correct. If it is not and the result is raiding the wrong location, you HAVE committed perjury.

Here's how the government treats a "civilian" when they think they have lied "under penalty of perjury" on a government form.

When a coworker of mine bought her first handgun she filled out the 4473 form. She was only 24, unmarried and wanted it for protection. Up until shortly before the purchase, she lived in a small town with only one zip code. She moved closer to work (still a small town) and put down the wrong zip code, in error, on her 4473 form. Why? Because after 24 years in one zip code it becomes habit and it was a simple "typo" on her part.

But BATF treated it as a "willful perjury" and sent two agents to seize her firearm and present her with a summons to Federal court. She was in a panic about it. Fortunately, a lawyer at her church took her case pro bono and resolved it, but it took him 60 exasperating days to get her revolver back.
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Old March 12, 2009, 01:54 AM   #71
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BillCA.

What I was referring to was the fact that at the time that the warrant is being executed (before the realization that there was a screw up) the cops BELIEVE that they are in the right house so they will act accordingly. It will probably not become apparent that a mistake has been made until all occupants are secure and everyone stands down a bit. I can't speak for all, but, if it's my warrant, I personally lead the entry team to the residence (even if I'm not on entry). I do this for a couple reasons. First is I KNOW where I'm going. I've got photos, surveillance and probably video of the place burned into my head so I know what it looks like. Second is more personal in that should there be a mistake, it's mine and I'll bear the responsibility for it. I know that everyone will take the hit but I'll take the worst of it because I should.

The other thing that was brought up aside from hitting the wrong house, was hitting a house where no criminal activity is taking place. Essentially hitting the right house with bad PC. I won't even go into someone who lies on an affidavit because there are procedures in place to deal with them. Bad PC happens. You make every effort as a detective to avoid it but it happens. You don't base a search warrant on a single piece of information no matter how good your source or what the information is. If a source tells me that a subject is selling crank from his house, I can't go and get a warrant based on that. Now, if we buy crank from the house...different story. If several other independent sources all tell me the same thing and surveillance confirms lots of folks with dope histories coming to the house...well, now we're getting someplace. The resident has a criminal past for selling crank...even better.
This is ideal and we all know that it doesn't always work that way. Sometimes you have to make the best of what you have and keep working it until either the PC is there or you determine that there is no criminal activity.


I'm not sure what you do for a living but having spent 18 plus years on the job (over 15 in narcotics) I think, without knowing your background, that I may have a little better understanding of the job and the associated risks. Maybe I'm wrong and you've got time on the job and just have a different view of things. It's ok to have opinions, even about things we know absolutely nothing about, and to express those opinions, but when it comes down to the reality of the job, get some first hand information if you would like to actually learn something.


I get the feeling that some folks on here are pretty anti-leo which is fine...everybody's got their issues, I don't like crotch rockets or domestic beer, but the whole "jack booted thug" thing and Gestapo references by some is both amusing and annoying. I would like some informed suggestions from the folks who have never executed a warrant how to go about hitting a potentially violent house full of gang members or dopers without using the dreaded SWAT tactics? No pie in the sky feel good, politically correct answers. Imagine that YOU were the first guy in the stack and tell me how to do it.

I'm getting popcorn and awaiting the string of suggestions...

I can assure you that my warrants are carefully planned and executed and that I know as much about my target as is possible before hitting a location. Believe me in that if there is another way to do things (besides a dynamic warrant), I'll try and think of it.

Kalifornia is so different in regards to your laws from the rest of the country that it may as well be a different world so I can't speak for what takes place out there. All I can cover is my own little corner of the world which is plenty for me. In my area there are NO, NO knock warrants (the SAO won't authorize and Judges won't sign) and No getting a search warrant with bare information from one single untested source.

As for de-policing (what ever that is), remember that when the crack/crank/heroin dealer moves in two doors down from you and you call the cops to deal with it. If some folks had their way, we'd trade in our weapons, put flowers in our holsters and take more sensitivity training. Trust me in that those aren't the cops you want when you do need them but they are the ones you may get. Society is increasingly breeding superior criminals, unfortunately we're not training superior cops due to increased political correctness and emphasis on customer service (the most ridiculous concept ever applied to police work by administrators)

I'll admit that mistakes happen. Not often thank God but they do. Everyone is human and we make mistakes. The folks that have made mistakes like we're discussing are probably not in law enforcement any longer. Should they be? I don't know. Every case is different but the fact is most were probably abandoned by their agency and thrown to the wolves. We expect that any more. We try and minimize the mistakes and in general do a good job considering the constraints we have to work under. It's a great responsibilty we have and I don't lightly get authorization to legally break into someones house. If I do, you can bet it's the right house because I'm betting my career and potentially my freedom if it's the wrong one. Whats the worst that can happen to you if you make a mistake at work?


Sorry for the rant.
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Old March 12, 2009, 01:55 AM   #72
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Hate to say it but after reading wildalaskas last post I have lost all respect.Alex
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Old March 12, 2009, 02:10 AM   #73
hogdogs
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mskdgunman, You do not seem to realize that most of us debating this on behalf of the citizen feel a regular knock style alert of a warrant is fine in just about every single instance... The loss of some dope down the crapper is not worth the health of a possibly innocent citizen. And in the cases where the prosecution would be at risk due to flushed dope ya'll could have easily done controlled buys for numerous purchases to better your case. This doesn't even touch all the residue and paraphernalia evidence you harvest from a dope house. I think we all agree that warrants need served but many of us see no need for justifiable home invasion...
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Old March 12, 2009, 02:38 AM   #74
Wildalaska
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Wildalaska, some links for you:
Read between the lines Meek on all of those links, except the last one

Quote:
Hate to say it but after reading wildalaskas last post I have lost all respect.Alex
My heart is broken

I'll say it again..the likelihood of an "innocent" person getting home invaded by cop impersonators is infinetesimal.

The statistical likelihood of a No Knock getting screwed up is equally tiny.

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Old March 12, 2009, 02:50 AM   #75
hogdogs
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The statistical likelihood of a No Knock getting screwed up is equally tiny.
Care to wager that per capita of the entire USofA on that? I am willing to bet their are more verifiable NKW's at the wrong address and poor info than there are police impersonator HI's...
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