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PW said:
The cops had better pull off the no-knock cleanly. We saw that situation a few months ago in Minnesota where they did a no-knock on the wrong house and the homeowner shot 2 cops because he didn't know who they were. He did not break the law and did not recieve any type of punishment.
Even worse are the cases where an innocent citizen is killed by police because they resist. You say they'd better get you on the floor before you get to your guns -- you realize that if they don't pull it off cleanly, YOU are almost certainly going to get shot. In the case you cite, the homeowner was tremendously lucky. According to the Cato Institute, no-knocks have killed 40 innocents in the last 20 years, and there are at least two people in prison for shooting cops in self-defense. Well, they claim self-defense. It's impossible to know for sure if they really knew the intruders were cops or not.

Oh and then there's the gang in LA, breaking into houses exactly like this SLC case. The kicker in the LA case is that the 15 criminals doing it really were LAPD. Their badges, etc., were all real. So even if there were a foolproof way to know if the intruders really are police, that's no guarantee of safety.

No-knocks are just a bad idea. They create a tremendously risky situation and they don't save lives. In fact, making the warrant execution safer isn't even the purpose of no-knock entry. The purpose of no-knock entry is to ensure that the BGs don't have time to dispose of evidence before the police come in to find it. They're a response to the problem that drugs are quite flushable. Drug dealers can easily have one person hold the police at the door for a couple of minutes, carefully verifying the search warrant, while someone else puts all the evidence down the toilet.

No-knock warrants are just one of the ways in which the War on Drugs has seriously eroded our civil rights. They're a bad idea, plain and simple. Bad for officer safety, bad for citizen safety.
 

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apollosmith said:
I think they are relatively rare.
There were over 50,000 of them in 2007. I'm not sure what percentage of all search warrant executions that is, but it's not small, and growing rapidly.

apollosmith said:
As a law-abiding citizen, I know for sure there is absolutely no reason why a no-knock would be served at my home.
No, you don't.

There have been several cases of no-knocks erroneously served because of a mistaken address, or bad information given by an informant. If someone comes crashing into your house in the middle of the night, it might very well be the police. The fact that you've done nothing wrong doesn't change this. If it is the police, and you shoot, they'll shoot back and more often than not, you'll die.

No-knock warrant execution should be illegal, or at least require serious analysis by a judge before being allowed. AFAIK, most jurisdictions don't even have any such thing as a "no-knock warrant" -- it's just a search warrant, and it's up to the police to figure out how they want to execute it.

I'm also a law-abiding citizen, and there is no reason that the police should ever have any sort of search warrant for my home, but it's still a possibility. Just another reason why I like the idea of putting my bedrooms all upstairs and placing a strong door at the foot of the stairs. At least if they have to bust their way through two doors, I'll have a little more time to wake up fully and think clearly about how to respond. Not that that's any guarantee -- BGs can claim to be police just as easily as police can. And as the gang in LA shows, even real police can be BGs.
 

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Mazellan said:
There were over 50,000 of them in 2007. I'm not sure what percentage of all search warrant executions that is, but it's not small, and growing rapidly.
Care to cite?
Google turns up lots of newspaper articles referencing the statistic, but I haven't been able to find the original research paper (and it's probably not available for free anyway). The research is from Peter Kraska. Unfortunately, there is also some inconsistency in the way the newspaper article cite the numbers. Some of them say there were 40,000 raids, and some say 50,000. Most of them say "last year", but the articles I looked at were published in 2005, 2006 and 2007. Also, some of them say it's the number of SWAT "deployments", most of which are no-knock raids, and others just say it's the number of no-knock raids.

I'll give you a few examples, if you want to try to track down more precise estimates and sources, please post them. In any case, I think this is enough to demonstrate that the numbers are large.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1129/p03s ... html?s=hns (2006 article, 50K+ no-knocks in 2005)
http://www.slate.com/id/2139458/ (2006 article, 40K+ SWAT deployments in 2005)
http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=517438 (2007 article, 50K+ SWAT deployments in 2006)
http://tristateobserver.com/modules.php ... e&sid=7239 (2006 article, 50K+ no-knocks in 2005)

The Cato Institute also has an interesting interactive map, showing where botched SWAT raids have occurred, complete with incident details and original sources. Not all of these are no-knocks, but most of them are. There are 41 cases where innocents died, and 22 police injuries or deaths.
 

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Mazellan said:
They also only claim that Peter Kraska did the reaserch but none of them scite exatly what report they got the stats from.
I don't think it would help that much if they did say which research papers they used. I found several of his papers available on-line, but all of them are in journals that cost money. I guess if you're willing to pay for them it would be useful, but I'm not :)

That's a common problem with trying to really give good citations. Most scientific work is published in journals that fund themselves by restricting access to their contents.

Mazellan said:
Now granted many of the storys where cops mess up are a discrace.
I didn't actually read any of the stories; I was just looking for the statistics.

Mazellan said:
The media links that you cited also don't know what a no knock warrant is.
I don't think there's any misunderstanding. Maybe some imprecision. In any case it doesn't really matter because what often happens is a quick knock and shout followed a split second later by kicking the door in. As this paper makes clear, the real problem is the aggressive, militaristic mindset, and the willingness to risk both police and civilian lives in order to make sure that evidence doesn't get destroyed.

Mazellan said:
One thing that bothers me is that people expect police to be above average humans. We are all the same we all make mistakes. Some make greater mistakes and others break the rules. The ones that break the rules will most likely be dealt with and those who make many mistakes be removed from the position.
I don't expect police to be above average. On the contrary, I fully expect them to be average people, and that's why it's a really bad idea to send them crashing through doors military tactics and weapons, and then expect that lots of people won't get hurt unnecessarily. I'd actually have more confidence in no-knock warrants if they were all executed by highly-trained people who clearly are well above average. I've seen video of an FBI Hostage Rescue Team blowing through a shoothouse and those guys are freaks of nature, unbelievably fast and accurate in both decisionmaking and shooting.

But the fact is that even a big-city SWAT team has only 10% of the training of HRT, if that, and they simply cannot be as selective as HRT, picking only the best of the best of the candidates. With less capable teams, you're going to get a lot more incidents.

Mazellan said:
I realize that I am obviously pro police but not to the extent that I would protect an officer that was in the wrong. Many of my teachers who are officers in my area have a saying. If your right the department will back you up if your wrong you are on your own.
I also consider myself pro-police. However, I think all too often the saying you quote is NOT what really happens. It's fine in the abstract, but human nature (again we can't expect police to be superhuman) is to protect your friends.

This means that citizens must be continually pounding on police organizations to be more open, less aggressive, harsher on cops that screw up, etc. Otherwise, human nature will push the police to create the infamous "blue wall", protecting their own. I think ubiquitous video cameras (in nearly every cellphone on the market) are starting to help with this, a lot. Police should realize that every action they take while on the job will be recorded, and will be used against them if they screw up. That may seem excessive -- I mean, who doesn't make mistakes? But it's important because it requires police to think about their encounters and structure them so that mistakes are harder to make, not easier.

No-knock warrant execution is an example of a technique that should be abandoned on those grounds. It nearly guarantees mistakes, unless the cops are superhuman. Which they're not.
 

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bane said:
I really think the whole problem would be neutralized fairly if an "equalizing" law were put into affect that basically held the home owner completely faultless for fighting back against a no-knock. This would force the police to be even more cautious about taking this step and would enable a lawful citizen to defend one's home without fear of later reprisal (albeit, they still might die, at least they have a fighting chance).
I don't see how being unable to prosecute the citizen after the fact would make police be more cautious, and I don't see how it would change a citizen's attitude. If someone busts into my house in the middle of the night, I'm going to fight back regardless of whether or not they're yelling "Police!". BGs can use the same tactics that police use. They can even come in large numbers. Knowing that I'll be legally faultless if they happen not to be police isn't going to change my reaction at all. Would it really change yours?
 

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bane said:
Yes, I do think the average person would at least hesitate if the people coming in appeared to be cops.
We clearly have different ideas about what "average" people (average armed people) might do. It probably depends a lot on the individual's knowledge about the various incidents where BGs have pretended to be executing a no-knock warrant. I've been paying attention to those stories for a while, and I'm quite certain that the police have no reason to really execute a no-knock on me, so I'm inclined to assume that anyone that comes breaking into my house is doing so illegally.
 

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Mazellan said:
Not just drugs. If the suspect is known to be armed the police would like to have the suppress. Action is faster than reaction.
That argument doesn't hold water.

If destruction of evidence isn't the problem, then there's a much safer way: Surround the house and call the suspect out with a bullhorn. All officers should be behind cover and neighbors should be informed of what's happening so they can get to safety. If the suspect decides to fort up, then CS gas and other debilitating agents can be used.

The only way this wouldn't be both safer and more effective (though a little more time-consuming) is if the suspect has a potential hostage inside. Good detective work should be used beforehand to determine this, and to determine if it's possible to grab the suspect as he enters or leaves the house. If all of this groundwork is thoroughly and properly done, any chance of invading the wrong house will also be eliminated.

IMO, no-knocks should be done only if (a) the suspect is known to be armed and dangerous, (b) the suspect cannot be apprehended elsewhere, and (c) the suspect has a potential hostage in the house. If police were required to do the detective work needed to verify all of that, and present it to the judge, then I think a no-knock warrant is reasonable.

The reality, though, is that the no-knock concept was created as a solution to the War on Drugs problem of suspects quickly disposing of the evidence. Notions of it increasing officer safety came later AND I'm not sure they're well-founded. I think no-knocks increase risks to officers, suspects and innocents.
 

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Stenny4 said:
Surrounding the house and calling the suspects out creates a problem the SWAT Team is trying to avoid: A Barricade Situation. The only thing worse than a barricade situation a hostage situation, which a barricade can easily turn into. Turning every search warrant into a barricade situation is asinine. Not only is it more time consuming, it is A LOT more dangerous to the SWAT Team members. Most barricades take 5 to 8 hours to resolve, where most search warrants and finished in under 60 seconds.
More time-consuming, obviously. More dangerous? Have anything to support that, or even to explain why/how it's more dangerous to police? And is it truly enough more dangerous to justify the innocent lives that erroneous no-knock executions take?

Note that I've already agreed that no-knocks make sense in cases where there's a potential hostage. It's not a good solution, but it appears to be the best one available -- IF the suspect can't be taken outside the home.
 

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Stenny4 said:
Barricades are obviously more dangerous because you now have a known threat that now has time to prepare for you to enter, and you no longer have the element of surprise. The threat is now waiting for you, not surprised that you are there and scrambling.
It's not dangerous if you don't try to go in. Stay outside, pump in CS gas. Even if the guy has equipment, there's a serious limit to how long you can stay at MOPP 4.

Stenny4 said:
What innocent lives are in danger? Granted, you have seen one case recently where the SWAT Team had bad info. No civilians were harmed, and a couple officers were injured. That was bad, but it could have been worse. Can you tell me the last time an innocent civilian's life was "erroneously" taken? Do you have any experience or statistics to support that claim?
See the link I posted earlier in this thread. At least 41 innocent civilians have been killed in no-knock warrant executions, and at least 22 officers injured or killed. I believe the last innocent to be killed by police during a no-knock warrant execution was Kathryn Johnston, November 2006, though there may be more recent examples. The most recent police death was Jarrod Shivers, killed January 17th, 2008, during an erroneous raid (since the homeowner, Ryan Frederick, was found to have a small amount of marijuana in his home, he's being treated as a bad guy and charged with first degree murder).
 

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Stenny4 said:
There are situations where suspects are barricaded in such a way that even the munitions don't affect them. Going in on a barricade is one of the final options, but there are times when it is necessary.
Hopefully, technology is eradicating this problem as well. I can't find the link now, but I read an article about a year ago about a sort of miniature radio-controlled tank for police use. It is based on the robots used by military EOD teams, but heavier, to make it capable of bashing its way through doors and even rather serious barricades. It's small enough to navigate normal hallways, can climb stairs and can be armed with a shotgun and canisters of disabling agents. The expected price for these things was around $100K, but that's not so bad compared to the expense of equipping and training a SWAT team. Even if the RC tank costs a little more, it would be worth it to eliminate risks to officers and reduce risks to innocents.

The tank wouldn't be of any assistance in a hostage situation, of course.

Even without the tank, I still think a barricade situation is safer for everyone (other than hostages) than aggressive entry. I realize someone could have a bomb shelter under their house that allows them to barricade in so well that there's no way to get gas to them, but how common is that? It seems to me that it would be worth the occasional situation where you have to wait them out for a while in order to avoid the dangers inherent in aggressive entry (whether no-knock or knock-and-pause).

BTW, just for reference, my primary experience with this sort of thing was Air Force Security Police training. I think it gave me an interesting perspective, because the SPs have an odd sort of dual role. The peacetime role is a combination security guard and MP job, but during wartime the Air Force's theory is that others take over those roles while the SP forces turn into infantry, armed with heavier weapons and living in foxholes when not out on active patrol around the air base.

We received training for both roles, and the contrast between the tactics used for "police" situations and those used for "grunt" situations was stark. Take clearing a building, for example. For police situations we trained in pretty much what you'd expect: "stacked" entry; high-man/low-man entry behind flashbangs or gas, wearing masks; shoot/no-shoot decisions; continual announcement of police identity; etc. For "grunt" situations, we trained to use satchel charges to breach entryways; fired through any doors or walls that we couldn't get a grenade through easily and couldn't just blow; modified our grenade throwing techniques to assume fragmentation grenades; established supporting fire with heavy machine guns, recoilless rifles and grenade launchers; no warnings at all -- it was either stealth or extreme violence, and not much stealth; etc.

Beyond the difference in techniques, there was a huge difference in the attitude and approach -- and I think military police have a significantly more aggressive attitude than civilian cops should have, even when in "police" mode. The military mindset is to be death on wheels, kill anyone and everything in the target area well before they have any chance of threatening you. The police mindset has to balance risks; you don't want to endanger the cops, but you HAVE to accept some risk because you have to admit the possibility that even if everyone inside is a legitimate suspect, subject to arrest, they're still presumed innocent until proven guilty AND even if guilty you have to do your best not to execute them before they have their day in court. Not to mention the potential presence of the perfectly innocent.

I think SWAT aggressive entry techniques lean too far to the military approach, and are headed further that way all the time. I think they're too dangerous, and inappropriate in most of the cases where they're used.
 

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GeneticsDave said:
And the fact that he conducted more than 40 phony raids where innocents could have been killed, the reputation and trust of law enforcement nation-wide has be jeopardized, homes were burglarized, firearms were used violently and abuse of authority occurred still makes these people think his sentence is unreasonable?!?
The effect of these raids on the safety of police officers should have cops applauding the stiff sentence. The LAPD burglaries made it clear to everyone who pays attention that if someone breaks into your house at night, you should defend yourself. It doesn't matter if they shout "POLICE!", because even if they ARE police they still might be robbing you.

Of course, honest cops always have the option of protecting themselves by not engaging in aggressive entries.
 

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GeneticsDave said:
Llewellyn confirmed the dog shooting, but said the dog charged police, forcing them to shoot it.
Duh. That's what a good dog does when strangers kick down the door. Defends his family.

I think it's pretty clear that 99 times out of 100, when the police use tactical teams like this, it is in fact NOT for officer safety. If that were the concern, rather than sending 10 guys to kick the door in, they'd send two to wait until the suspect comes out of his house in the morning to go to work. That's the SAFE way to apprehend a possibly-dangerous suspect. The problem is that it's just not as much fun as kicking in doors, terrorizing 12 year-old girls and shooting dogs.

:disgusted:
 

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UtahCFP said:
There is a new phenomenon arising that is known as "swatting".
:shocked:

Dang, and I though joe jobs were bad news.
 

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bane said:
To be honest... I have decided that I consider any violent/strong-arm breach of the walls of my home to be assault by thugs, regardless of who it is coming in.
:agree:
The bottom line is that if someone storms into your house yelling "POLICE!", you have no idea whether it's cops or bad guys.

Heck, it could even be both, as in the LAPD case a few years ago, where a bunch of police officers were robbing homes by busting in as though they were making a no-knock raid.
 
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