Tuesday, January 08, 2008

When the police become soldiers

Radley Balco has the latest SWAT team abuse. Boy bumps head. Father treats boy himself. Concerned neighbor calls 911. Medic forces way into home. Father refuses to send son to hospital. Police are called. Bust in with SWAT team to take kid to hospital. Parents thrown to the ground and handcuffed. According to the sheriff, the SWAT team was necessary because the father was a "constitutionalist" who had made "threats and comments" over the years. Oh and the father was rude and confrontational with the paramedics when they forced their way into his home. I'll reprint my comments, left on Balco's blog.

Radley, you should make this a poster case for the over utilization of SWAT teams. For those who continue to doubt your points about police militarization, this case offers none of the typical ways to weasel out of a real debate- there are no drugs involved and no mention of even the possibility of violence. The only piece of information that we have from the sheriff was that the father was “rude and confrontational.”

The problem of police use of military style force isn’t about the relative merits of the particular laws they are seeking to enforce- hopefully, with a case like this, you could be of the point of view that police intervention was entirely neccessary and appropriate while comprehending that there was no need for a military style raid on the home. I personally don’t beleive the police had any business interfering, but that’s really besides the point. The point is, does anyone in their right mind really think that it’s a good idea for a SWAT team to bust in with military force in this situation?

It actually made me think back to Elian Gonzalez- remember the pictures of that poor, terrified kid? Forget about whether you thought the kid should have been sent back to Cuba or not. Even if you did think he should be sent back, why on earth did Janet Reno have to send in the SWAT team? If you can defend these uses of SWAT teams, then your basically saying that all law enforcement is so dangerous it requires military style force … or in other words you’re okay with living under military style rule.

And one final thought- Apparently this home was so dangerous that the paramedics and social case workers were able to enter the home before the police went in with the SWAT team.


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