Failure to Address Systemic SWAT Raid Failures

The systemic failure of police raids continues to cause deaths of innocent people. In congressional testimony last month Radley Balko presented more evidence in: Our Militarized Police Departments:

Pay particular attention to the red markers on the map. Those are the approximately 40 cases where a mistaken raid resulted in the death of a completely innocent American citizen. The most recent example of course is the drug raid in Atlanta last fall that killed 92-year old Kathryn Johnston. Ms. Johnston mistook the raiding police officers for criminal intruders. When she met them with a gun, they opened fire and killed her. The police were acting on an uncorroborated tip from a convicted felon.

I’d estimate I find news reports of mistaken raids on Americans homes about once a week. If you’re wondering, yes, there was one just this week. This past Saturday, in Durango, Colorado, police raided the home of 77-year-old Virginia Herrick. Ms. Herrick, who takes oxygen, was forced to the ground and handcuffed at gunpoint while officers ravaged through her home.

They had the wrong address. In just the last month, there have been mistaken raids in New York City; Annapolis, Maryland; Hendersonville, North Carolina; Bonner County, Idaho; and Stockton, California. In each case, innocent American citizens had the sanctity of their homes invaded by agents of the government behaving more like soldiers at war than peace officers upholding and protecting our constitutional rights.

800 times per week in this country, a SWAT team breaks open an American’s door, and invades his home. Few turn up any weapons at all, much less high-power weapons. Less than half end with felony charges for the suspects. And only a small percentage end up doing significant time in prison.

It is a shame that the evidence of systemic failure is ignored and business as usual continues (when that business as usual is so extreme). It sure seems to me this situation calls for intervention and a replacement of current methods of business with much improved management practices. Talk about lack of respect for people – those with homes being invaded and even killed due to systemic failure of police raids. There is a need to fix this system – not just making excuses every time yet another mistake is made. The mistakes are not special causes unique to the individual case but the common cause errors resulting from the current management practices.

3 thoughts on “Failure to Address Systemic SWAT Raid Failures

  1. They are always "suspended with pay" for a few weeks till the police department figures the fickle public has forgotten about their latest screw-up, and then they go back to work, having had a nice little vacation. Only the friends and family of the victims remember.

  2. Pingback: CuriousCat: Lean Management in Policing

  3. 13 years later… after many many innocent deaths resulting from such tactics. “Justice Dept. curtails agents’ use of ‘no-knock’ warrants”

    “Under the updated policy, federal agents would be limited to using a no-knock warrant only in situations when an agent “has reasonable grounds to believe that knocking and announcing the agent’s presence would create an imminent threat of physical violence to the agent and/or another person.” There are limited exceptions to that rule, but agents seeking a warrant in those circumstances would need approval from the agency’s director and the U.S. attorney or an assistant attorney general before seeking the warrant from a judge.”


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