Posts Tagged ‘SWAT’

Ugh, it happened again this week. This time federal agents in Philadelphia reportedly burst into the wrong house, destroyed property, frightened the home’s occupants, and then left with only the slimmest of explanations.

SWAT

SWAT Training

I hate hearing about this kind of stuff. We all know cops have a tough and dangerous job to do, but they also have a duty to get things right, especially when it comes to serving warrants or otherwise raiding people’s homes.

Mistakes are going to happen, of course. But when they do, the police have to step up, admit the error, accept responsibility, and do what they can to make things right.

No excuses.

The downsides of failed raids like these are numerous, including the harm done to the individual citizens involved. Probably even more corrosive, though, is the damage done to the trust relationship that needs to exist between the community and those sworn to serve and protect them.

Being callous or unresponsive in the aftermath of a raid gone wrong just adds insult to injury and fans the flames of distrust and paranoia about police procedures that already exist.

Footage of botched police raid on the wrong house in Georgia

Have a safe weekend!

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Last week, a Nevada family sued their local police for a variety of civil rights infractions, including violation of their Third Amendment rights. While the facts are only partially in at this point (the police have not yet responded fully to the charges), the story so far is a compelling one.

3rd_Amendment_T-Shirt

According to news accounts, the police wanted to use the family’s home as a staging ground during an incident that was occurring in a nearby residence. Not wanting to get involved, the home’s owners refused. That didn’t deter the police, though, who allegedly forced their way in, assaulted the owners, shot one of them with a “pepper ball” gun, took control of the house, and then charged one of the owners with obstructing the police.

Aside from what appears – on its face, at least – to be absolutely outrageous police conduct, the other interesting aspect is how the Third Amendment is being used as a basis for a federal lawsuit in this instance. The wording of the Amendment itself applies primarily to the quartering of soldiers:

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

And, like many of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights, this one appears pretty clear and straightforward. But is it, really?

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What do Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber, and Clint Eastwood all have in common? Not much, you say?

Actually, they’ve each been the victim of a dangerous new hacking “prank” called “Swatting.” Hackers call the police – apparently from the target’s phone number – and report a serious crime in progress, such as an armed home invasion. As might be expected, the police respond with overwhelming force in these cases, sometimes using a SWAT team, and kick in the target’s door to investigate.

In one recent Swatting case, journalist Brian Krebs was accosted on his front porch by armed officers, guns drawn, who had been called to the house on report of a burglary in progress. There was no crime occurring, as Krebs had been in the process of preparing for a dinner party, and he hadn’t been the one to call the police in the first place.

It’s not always celebrities or journalists who are the targets, however. There have been a number of incidents around the country targeted at private citizens, including some recent incidents in Elk Grove, California.

The dangers of this phenomenon are obvious, but solutions less so. In the Krebs case above, officers did attempt to call his home number while responding. Had he been able to answer the phone, Krebs might have headed off the whole incident, but even that’s not certain. Swatting is already illegal, but some lawmakers are proposing even stiffer penalties for this particular brand of false reporting.

If you’re a SWAT officer, what are your thoughts on this, and, if you’ve been a victim, what was your experience?