Soulskill from the i-blame-the-first-rambo-movie dept.
FuzzNugget writes "An awakening piece in the Wall Street Journal paints a grim picture of how America's police departments went from community officers walking the beat to full-on, militarized SWAT operations breaking down the doors of non-violent offenders. From the article: 'In the 1970s, there were just a few hundred [raids] a year; by the early 1980s, there were some 3,000 a year. In 2005, there were approximately 50,000 raids.' It goes on to detail examples of aggressive, SWAT-style raids on non-violent offenders and how many have ended in unnecessary deaths. Last year, after a Utah man's home was raided for having 16 small marijuana plants, nearly 300 bullets in total were fired (most of them by the police) in the ensuing gunfight, the homeowner believing he was a victim of a home invasion by criminals. The U.S. military veteran later hanged himself in his jail cell while the prosecution sought the death sentence for the murder of one officer he believed to be an criminal assailant. In 2006, a man in Virginia was shot and killed after an undercover detective overheard the man discussing bets on college football games with buddies in a bar. The 38-year-old optometrist had no criminal record and no history of violence. The reports range from incredulous to outrageous; from the raid on the Gibson guitar factory for violation of conservational law, to the infiltration of a bar where underage youth were believed to be drinking, to the Tibetan monks who were apprehended by police in full SWAT gear for overstaying their visas on a peace mission. Then there's the one about the woman who was subject to a raid for failing to pay her student loan bills. It's a small wonder why few respect police anymore. SWAT-style raids aren't just for defense against similarly-armed criminals anymore; it's now a standard ops intimidation tactic. How much bloodshed will it take for America to realize such a disproportionate response is unwarranted and disastrous?"
The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood
of bean counters.
-- Alan Kay