The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization, a think tank, dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues. Highlighted in this article are a few examples of the violence on Americans at the hand of law enforcement in the failed war on drugs. Increasingly paramilitary no knock raids are used to search homes and businesses in search of illegal contraband. All too often mistakes are made where the wrong house is raided, the information about the occupants is wrong, or police or citizens die in the conflict. We have the right to use deadly force to repel home invasions. If my door was broken down at 2 or 3AM I would be inclined to try to defend my family. The justification seems to be that if no knock raids are not used, the suspects may destroy evidence. Wouldn’t shutting the water off keep people from flushing the evidence just as effectively without all the violence? http://www.cato.org/
In a commentary at CATO Institute written by Radley Balko titled Raiding Reality.
Is it fair to blame Congress for these types of mistakes?
I think so. Here’s why: Since the late 1980s, Congress has made a bounty of surplus military gear available to local police departments, either at steeply discounted prices, or for free. Millions of pieces of equipment have been transferred this way. Once stocked with military-grade weaponry, local police departments look for ways to put their new equipment to use. So they form SWAT teams. More drug-war incentives from Congress-this time in the form of grants for drug arrests-then induce those departments to send the SWAT team out for routine warrant service of nonviolent drug suspects.
The result? An explosion in the number of “no-knock,”forced-entry type raids in the U.S. One criminologist who’s studied the phenomenon estimates that the number of SWAT “call-outs” in the U.S. has increased from about 3,000 per year in the 1980s to more than 40,000 per year today. It’s of no coincidence that this dramatic rise began in the early 1980s, just as we began ratcheting up the War on Drugs. http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/raiding-reality
In this video Mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights, Maryland describes the errant SWAT drug raid on his home where his two dogs were shot. http://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-video/cheye-calvo-details-swat-raid-killed-family-dogs
This interactive map highlights some of the botched paramilitary drug raids in this country which now happen at an estimated rate of 40,000 per year. These no knock drug raids are happening all too often on the homes of nonviolent drug offenders and people mistaken to be nonviolent drug offenders. http://www.cato.org/raidmap
An 88 year old Atlanta woman is killed in a wrong house drug raid where she believed she was being victimized in a home invasion and fired a gun at police officers who quickly shot her to death. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/28/us/28atlanta.html?_r=2&ref=us&oref=slogin&
Cory Maye may have escaped the death penalty where he used a gun in what he believed was self-defense in a botched drug raid of his home. http://www.cato.org/blog/cato-policy-analyst-who-may-have-saved-mans-life
Buffalo, New York’s paramilitary SWAT team has found a use for their new toys. “Shock and Awe”. 78 people were arrested, 21 ounces of marijuana was confiscated along with 7 ounces of crack cocaine and 5 guns in the raids of almost 40 homes over a three-day period. This story highlights the way police are increasingly using other government entities such as housing and safety inspectors, Alcohol Beverage Control officers, or Game Wardens to circumvent the need for warrants to raid suspected drug dealers. So much for constitutional guarantees against illegal search and seizure. http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/buffalos-stampede-against-privacy
Barry Cooper, a former narcotics officer in Texas who has made countless arrests found himself in trouble when he started busting relatives and friends of politicians. He came to realize that the practice of raiding homes of people looking for drugs was wrong and felt guilty about the atrocities involved with the raids he was involved in where Mom and Dad would be dragged to jail and their children taken to Child Protective Services over a bag of pot. He has fought back releasing a video http://www.nevergetbusted.com/ and written a book, “After Prohibition”. Barry is not alone where many law enforcement officers, attorneys and judges have broken ranks and formed Law Enforcement Against Prohibition http://www.leap.cc/.
This article and video from Reason.com highlight the tragedies involved, and lives destroyed by the war on drugs. Please watch. http://reason.com/blog/2011/06/18/reasontv-replay-lindy-no-knoc
I believe it is time to end this war on drugs. Prohibition is damaging our freedom and destroying our relationship with law enforcement. Our politicians seem oblivious to the damage to society from this failed war on drugs where countless lives and families are destroyed. America only has 5% of the world’s population but we have 25% of the planets prison population. Something is terribly wrong with this approach. Please call or write to your elected officials and let them know how you feel.