Radley Balko writes in the Washington Times:
When critics (like me) warn about the dangers of police militarization, this is what we’re talking about. You’ll see the raid team, dressed in battle-dress uniforms, helmets and face-covering balaclava hoods take down the family’s door with a battering ram. You’ll see them storm the home with ballistics shields, guns at the ready. More troubling still, you’ll see not one but two officers attempt to prevent the family from having an independent record of the raid, one by destroying a surveillance camera, another by blocking another camera’s lens.
Prince’s son, Justin Ross, was in the bathroom when police burst in, and he was carrying a gun that he has the legal right to carry. “I stood up, I drew my weapon, I started to get myself together to get out the door, I heard someone in the main room say police. I re-holstered my weapon sat back down and put my hands in my lap,” Ross recalls.
Ross says he didn’t hear the police announcement until after one officer had already attempted to kick in the door. Had that officer been successful, there’s a good chance that Ross, the police officer, or both would be dead. The police department would then have inevitably argued that Ross should have known that they were law enforcement. But you can’t simultaneously argue that these violent, volatile tactics are necessary to take suspects by surprise and that the same suspects you’re taking by surprise should have known all along that they were being raided by police. Well you can, and police do, and judges and prosecutors usually support them. But the arguments don’t logically coexist.
To my friends in law enforcement… please… this kind of action must stop. Now! There is no excuse for such thuggery in the name of police action.
All I can think, over and over, is: What if this were my house? With no legitimate reason for police to enter my home in this way, I would absolutely assume whoever did this must be criminals intent on harming me or my family—no matter what they are wearing, and no matter what they are claiming with their words.
C’mon, gentlemen, any thug can shout he’s a police officer upon entering, without actually being a member of law enforcement. So how can a citizen be blamed for opening fire upon such intruders?
Worst of all, in this case, the police didn’t find anything they were supposedly looking for—it’s about the same as using an American drone to obliterate a target we merely “think” may be a bad guy—it should not be done! It puts both the police and innocent citizens at risk for no reason.
Finally, the writer is correct about the need for a return to true and authentic “knock and announce.” Give the inhabitants a chance to let you know you’ve got the wrong house, or to show you there’s no need for battle troops inside.
Covering faces… destroying and covering cameras… this in itself should tell us the police know what they’re doing is likely wrong. After all, if you’re doing the right thing and have nothing to hide… Isn’t that what we’re being told by government these days?
If you want to dress up and play Army man, join the National Guard. But please… PLEASE… get this storm-trooper activity out of our cities, and away from our homes.