Monday, October 23, 2006
Local SWAT Team uses SHAQ ATTACK . . . on the wrong house
I read this over at saysuncle.com, http://www.saysuncle.com/archives/2006/10/23/thanks_shaq/, and I couldn’t help but to comment on it here. Take a look for yourself, but basically, some local police acting on a child abuse operation raided the wrong house in the rural Northeast. Basically, the “men in black” came out to some guy’s farm and arrested him and his wife. Evidently, the police threatened them with weapons and all that good stuff in order to scare them into confessing. Then, when the kids got home later that day, they got the same treatment. The “raid” lasted about 5 hours, and the police found . . . nothing. Sometime during the mess, the word came down that, dare I say it, a MISTAKE was made. The police had the wrong physical address to match the IP address to the house. In other words, the police screwed up and raided a bunch of innocent people.
Okay, so that’s a shame and all, but you argue that the police must use such tactics to ensure the safety of the officer. Ummmm . . . not REALLY. You see, they had a special “guest star” officer on the team. Shaq is evidently a reserve officer in this town . . . that he doesn’t live in. They gave him a gun, and let him accompany the raid. In other words, it was a publicity stunt gone TERRIBLY wrong.
Here are the direct links:
The police across this country are using this type of “raid” more and more often for almost any alleged crime or warrant service. Granted, child related crime is about as distasteful as it gets, but it’s not something that is associated with violent resistance to the police. I mean, we don’t associate guns and explosives with dirty pictures. There was no real reason that the police couldn’t have just driven up, grabbed the computers, and made the arrests if need be. Of course, that’s not as much fun, you don’t get in the paper, and you don’t get to break out your MP5’s and black PJ’s for that.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not “anti-police” or “soft on crime”. I’m neither. I think my hometown’s police chief does an A1 job here, and I’m proud of our police force. I’m glad I have personal friendships with several of them. On the other hand, I don’t mind saying that it really makes me uneasy knowing my little town of 10,000 “needs” a SWAT team complete with fully-automatic weapons and an “assault vehicle”. I guess it’s one of those things that you’ll probably never need, but IF YOU DO, you need them, but I’m afraid that as we get comfortable with idea of our “beat cops” doubling as SWAT guys, we’re going to get more and more comfortable using SWAT tactics on a daily basis.
I want you to think about something, especially if you’re an older person. Twenty years ago, police uniforms were grey, brown, black/white, and sometimes even green. Now, they’re almost exclusively black on black on black. The baton has been replaced with the TAZER gun. The policeman’s hat has been replaced by a black balaclava. The .38 Special revolver has been replaced by a high-capacity Glock. The shotgun has been replaced by the MP-5 machine pistol or an M4 Assault Rifle. The bullhorn has been replaced by the stun grenade. The “paddy wagon” has been replaced by a “Police Assault Vehicle” i.e. a tank without the cannon.
As bad as this sounds, I’m not sure how easy it’s going to be to tell our kids that, if they get scared, go find a policeman. I mean, it was fine for my generation when the policeman wore a police hat, a white shirt, and looked REASONABLY approachable. Now though, our kids have the option of the “nice stranger with some candy” or the 6’3”, 300 pounder with the crewcut and the black uniform. Crap, I might have taken my chances with the stranger had I not known the cop.
Now, I know times are a’ changing and the “bad guys” have all kinds of machine guns, grenades, and lawyers. I’ll also be HAPPY to say that the police that I know are really great people that I’m proud to call friends. However, I also don’t mind saying that the police now don’t seem as approachable as they were 20 years ago. While the dark glasses, black uniforms, and body armor might make a better presence on the street when confronting gangs, I don’t think they work particularly well in all cases and situations.
There’s no real solution I admit. Hey, if I were a cop, I’d want the biggest and best equipment available to make my job easier and my chances of survival that much better. However, we as Americans should ALWAYS keep this in mind. The police are paid to keep US safe. We’re not expected to sacrifice our safety for them. Also, whenever we get excited to see our local SWAT team dressed up like the SAS making a drug bust on some guy in our town, we need to keep this in our mind: they’re using our tax money in order to train how to best assault . . . us. When the SEALs train, they’re training how to assault an enemy of the State somewhere overseas. When 5 or 6 of your town’s finest leave to go to “SWAT school”, they’re going to prepare how to best attack citizens like us. Maybe not us PERSONALLY, but people like us. And before you say “only criminals need to worry about it”, think again. This family was innocent . . . COMPLETELY innocent. The police made a computer glitch. This happens more than we like to admit. The police raid almost exclusively “legally” innocent people, anyway, don’t they?
Innocent people die like this every year, but we don’t hear about it that much. I’m REALLY afraid the police are going to raid the “wrong house”, and it’s really going to be the WRONG HOUSE i.e. a house full of adults who are heavily armed and equipped to deal with such a threat. What do we, as a society, do when 2 or 3 officers are killed in a raid by the occupants of the home after we find out the police had the wrong house? What do we do to officers if they raid the wrong home and kill the occupants?
We’ve always had similar problems, but I really believe that if we continue to allow and even encourage military-style raids on American citizens for any type of warrant at the department’s discretion, we’re going to have more and more close-call mistakes.
This family, while being unlucky, was EXTREMELY lucky. Imagine what would have happened if the police would have attacked at night. Would the family taken up arms to resist? If so, how many would have been killed on either side? The police ADMIT they had no idea there were kids in the household. Would they have gone in shooting? Maybe. Afterall, it was a bunch of perverts, anyway. At least, that’s what the report said.