Tuesday, December 18, 2007

No-knock Warrants and the Problems They Cause

TwinCities.com - Botched police raids not so rare Given that the number of no-knock warrants has gone from 3000 in 1981 to more than 50,000 today is it any wonder that there are problems.

The police force, and the criminal justice system generally, is just another government bureaucracy, and like all government bureaucracies, is screwed up.

The problem is the number of times no-knock warrants are used when not needed, the number of times they are approved by the courts on really flimsy information provided by an 'informant' who is trying to buy his own freedom by 'cooperating with authorities.'
Perhaps the most publicized in recent months involves Kathryn Johnson, a 92-year-old woman shot and killed when cops mistakenly raided her Atlanta home looking for drugs. The shooting led to the dismantling of that city's narcotics team.
That is not the only event, just the most notable.
Brad and Nicole Thompson, who ran a video-production business from their Spring Lake Park home, had long given cops the benefit of the doubt. They figured cops only targeted bad guys.

Then trouble came calling in March. Cops with bogus information entered their apartment with guns drawn and issued profane-filled orders, some caught on tape, to lie down or surrender.

Oops. Wrong place. A year later, the Thompsons, who have no criminal history, say they are still shaken by the incident and have yet to receive even an apology.
I mean what would an apology cost? It would cost the police department a bit of pride. Must be too much to pay for those egos.

Most of this is the fault of the War on (some) Drugs, but not all. A lot has to do with apathy, and the "knowledge" that all too many people have that things like this will never happen to them, because they don't live in the Real World. They live in Pleasantville. (Or they think they do anyway.)

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