Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"Wrong door" raids   posted by amnestic @ 11/28/2006 04:27:00 PM

The Agitator is doing a fine job on the play-by-play following the Kathryn Johnston shooting. These are your drug war tax dollars at work. For a weak-willed waffler like myself it is nice to come across a policy area where the side of reason and justice is so obvious. Rapidly approaching single issue voter status.
By conservative estimates, there are about 110 of these types of raids per day in America. The vast majority are for drug crimes. Think this was the only one conducted after shoddy police work? Think this was the only one conducted based solely on the word of an informant? Think it's pure coincidence that in the one raid that made national attention last week, we now learn that something went severely wrong in the investigation that led to it?

Of course not. This is standard operating procedure. This the way it's done in a huge number of jurisdictions across the country. Not all. But far too many. I've had police officers tell me raids are never launched based solely on the word of an informant. But this one was. I've had police officers tell me there's always extensive corroborating investigation to verify the address, house, and suspect. But not this time. I've had police officers tell me paramilitary raids are only conducted with the suspect is extremely dangerous, and has a history of violent behavior. Not this time. I've had police officers tell me they only target big suppliers with these raids, not small-time dealers or users. Again -- that wasn't the case, here.

I find it hard to believe that the only time time these shortcuts have been used are in those raids we read about in the newspaper -- where an innocent person dies.

These assaults on people's homes are high-stakes and have an extremely thin margin for error. Couple that with the inherent shortcomings of relying on shady informants -- a critical tool in drug policing -- and you get a recipe for hundreds of innocent people wrongly terrorized, and dozens more who end up dead. By my count, Kathryn Johnston is number 41. Throw in nonviolent offenders and she's number 61 -- at least (I'm sure I haven't found all of those cases).

And all of this -- for what?

To stop people from getting high.