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June 12, 2007 - Asheville Citizen-Times (NC)

Police Raiding Wrong Home Part Of Trend

By Rich Moore, Guest Commentary

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

The recent SWAT team attack on an innocent home in Hendersonville, as detailed in the story, "Police apologize after raiding wrong house," (AC-T, May 15), is not the rare occurrence that the police would like people to think it is. All across the nation, horror stories abound about drug raids gone bad.

Numerous totally innocent Americans have been killed and injured by "dynamic entry" techniques that have become all too prevalent. Normally the cops do not even apologize, much less accept responsibility.

The police consider their safety more important than the public's so they use maximum force as much as possible; less risk for cops means more for civilians.

What was the reason that a magistrate or judge signed a "no knock warrant" so that police could simply bomb (smoke bombs are dangerous, they explode and cause fires and injuries) and assault a home before announcing themselves? Were the police able to arrest the real suspect without the use of force, and if so why wasn't that the first option?

All too commonly the police, as they did in Atlanta recently in the case of Kathryn Johnson, who was murdered by police, try and get permission for these assault type methods of announcing their presence and they normally succeed.

Blurring The Line

The police commonly abuse the persons present, cursing and screaming as they rough up the occupants, counting on the public having less sympathy for the "bad guys" (regardless of the presumption of innocence) and the fact that most accused are poor and unable to afford lawsuits to correct wrongful police actions.

This militarization of the local cops is a direct result of the trend toward blurring the line between civilian and military operations;

President Bush has done away with posse comitatus as well as habeas corpus after 600 years as a protection for us, having gutted most of the Constitution in the name of chasing terrorists. But the real effects can be felt in small ways, such as in the incident in Hendersonville, where children are slammed to the floor with guns at their heads and the police damage or destroy whatever they wish as they ransack property.

See For Yourself

Just try searching on your computer for "police misconduct" or "police kill wrong person" and see how many awful true stories are there testifying to the lack of care that police take during operations and the incredible number of innocent people injured or killed by sloppy police work.

If the cops cannot read the right address then how can they be trusted to do much of anything right? All raids should be videotaped for later use should things go wrong.

The police resist this, as tapes show how brutal and nasty most cops are when raiding private homes, and their image as protectors and servants is shown to be a farce in actual practice when they storm through a family's lives under the guise of protecting themselves from the cokeheads and petty dealers they arrest.

Use Of Force

While this incident may be only one of a few locally, it is just part of a terrible trend. The police are acting more like home invasion robbers than cops when they use more force than is called for by the facts.

The cops like to assume everyone they face is ready to shoot them on sight, and this is just not true, not yet. That will only happen if the citizens feel that the police are more dangerous than some idiot using drugs in the privacy of his home and arm themselves against intrusions that are unjustified.

Remember, had any police been shot while they were assaulting that mistaken address, the residents would have been fully justified even though they no doubt would have been gunned down regardless of innocence; once a bad raid starts it doesn't end until the shooting stops and the cops start checking the facts.

That is something they should do before the shooting starts, don't you think?

Rich Moore is a disabled Vietnam-era Air Force veteran retired from retail sales. He chronicles eroding civil liberties and police misconduct issues from his home in Franklin.

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