Radley Balko has a couple of updates related to this travesty. One from a military perspective that I particularly liked and one from someone that attended a Columbia, MO civilian oversight meeting. Both good reads on a subject that is not going away anytime soon.
More Militarised Than The Military
More at the sourceI am a US Army officer, currently serving in Afghanistan. My first thought on reading this story is this: Most American police SWAT teams probably have fewer restrictions on conducting forced entry raids than do US forces in Afghanistan.I’ve heard similar accounts from other members of the military. A couple of years ago after I’d given a speech on this issue, a retired military officer and former instructor at West Point specifically asked me to stop using the term “militarization,” because he thought comparing SWAT teams to the military reflected poorly on the military.
For our troops over here to conduct any kind of forced entry, day or night, they have to meet one of two conditions: have a bad guy (or guys) inside actively shooting at them; or obtain permission from a 2-star general, who must be convinced by available intelligence (evidence) that the person or persons they’re after is present at the location, and that it’s too dangerous to try less coercive methods. The general can be pretty tough to convince, too. (I’m a staff liason, and one of my jobs is to present these briefings to obtain the required permission.)
Generally, our troops, including the special ops guys, use what we call “cordon and knock”: they set up a perimeter around the target location to keep people from moving in or out,and then announce their presence and give the target an opportunity to surrender. In the majority of cases, even if the perimeter is established at night, the call out or knock on the gate doesn’t happen until after the sun comes up.
Oh, and all of the bad guys we’re going after are closely tied to killing and maiming people.
What might be amazing to American cops is that the vast majority of our targets surrender when called out.
I don’t have a clear picture of the resources available to most police departments, but even so, I don’t see any reason why they can’t use similar methods.
Report From the Meeting of Columbia’s Police Civilian Review Board
Regular commenter “CTD” writes:
Last night I attended the monthly meeting of the Columbia Police Civilian Review Board. (The board itself is in its infancy, just having started up in January. The cops fought it’s formation every step of the way, of course.) The meeting had to be moved to the city council chamber because so many people showed up. Even then, it was standing room only. Not a single citizen who spoke attempted to defend the police. Not one. Several told similar stories about being victimized in raids, or having dogs killed. The local Libertarian Party chapter president spoke and quoted from Overkill, FYI. They quality of the citizen comments was surprisingly good, overall. Nobody made any point you haven’t a million times, but it was heartening to see so many agreeing that these paramilitary tactics are far too dangerous to be used for non-violent suspects. Thanks so much for getting the word out on this, we really appreciate it.This was really my fondest hope for Overkill—that when one of these raids happens, citizens and policymakers would consult the paper. The idea for the SWAT transparency bill in Maryland came from Overkill. Maybe this episode will spur Missouri legislators to pass something similar.