Friday, May 23, 2008

Not nearly long enough

"A former Los Angeles police officer who participated in home invasion robberies staged to look like police raids was sentenced Monday to 102 years in prison."

And police departments wonder just why innocent people choose to defend themselves with firearms when ninja-clad "tactical" teams assault the wrong house, or the right house with false or not-followed-up on or improperly investigated information, or who the heck knows why they picked the house, in the middle of the night with "no-knock" warrants, often jump-starting the process with flash-bang grenades and smashing down the door with no announcements whatsoever. These justifiably frightened people then react to the perceived threat, often getting the officers and/or themselves injured or killed in the process (which defeats the primary reason for no-knock raids in the first place, which is ostensibly "officer safety"), and then they are the ones hauled up on charges for daring to protect themselves and their families against an unknown threat.

No-knock raids are an extremely dangerous and rights-violating process that should only be used in the most violent and dangerous circumstances, and then only after information justifying the raid has been double-checked and investigated thoroughly for accuracy, so as not to traumatize the innocent, law-abiding people who seem to be regularly plagued by botched assaults. This type of raid should not be used for routine warrant service, or for busting Mary Soccer-Mom for dealing a little pot, or for non-violent child protection cases, for that matter.

Yes, fellows, we know that kicking down doors provides an adrenaline rush, and that it's fun to play with all the toys that the average peasant isn't allowed to have, and that you look way cool in your all-black military outfits. That isn't enough reason for the wholesale violations of the Fourth Amendment that constantly happen because the police are too lazy to do their due diligence on the cases that they wish to act on with such jack-booted frenzy, or because it's budget time and a daring operation would look cool on the evening news, or because their bosses are leaning on them to justify all the moolah that was spent on the sweet tactical gear.

Shame also on the judges that rubber-stamp warrant applications with no questions asked. They should be held as responsible for the tragedies that result from sloppy investigating as the officers who actually perform the raid.

Hopefully, the average voter is going to finally wake up enough to insist that their elected representatives cut off funding for the SWAT teams, until they get their acts together and show some professionalism and intelligence in their jobs.

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