Police Union: You Can Have Safe Neighborhoods Or Be Free Of Flashbang-Burned Toddlers, But Not Both

from the the-maiming-of-toddlers-is-acceptable-collateral-damage,-apparently dept

A Georgia state senator has announced a bill to limit the use of no-knock warrants. These warrants have gone from the exception to the rule over the past several years, as our nation’s drug warriors apparently labor under the assumption that drug dealers keep banker’s hours.

Of course, no-knock raids have resulted in plenty of collateral damage — both to cops and civilians — as the element of surprise tends to be bullet-and-flashbang heavy. It’s the use of flashbang grenades that has prompted this new legislation, which unfortunately puts it into the category of “Laws Named After Victims,” most of which are written badly and hastily.

The incident prompting this bill involved a 19-month-old toddler who was badly burned by a flashbang that landed in his crib. The police claimed they had no idea children might be present in the home, despite nearly tripping over the toys scattered around the yard in their haste to raid a house over a $50 drug purchase from a person who didn’t even live at the residence.

The law would forbid the use of no-knock warrants during nighttime hours… or so you would think before you read the exceptions.

House Bill 56, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, would, in most cases, bar the use of no-knock warrants between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

It also requires law enforcement agencies to develop written policies and training for the use of the warrants, require a supervising officer to present when the warrant is executed, and requires police to swear that not using a no-knock warrant would pose “a significant and imminent danger to human life or imminent danger of evidence being destroyed.”

The last part of that sentence is the loophole. All it takes to acquire the “forbidden” no-knock warrant is for an officer to swear that “because reasons, most likely drugs/officer safety,” no other type of warrant will do. If it passes the way it’s written, it will end up preventing nearly nothing. Scott Greenfield sees this legislation as nothing more than a preemptive strike against further regulation of warrant service.

While one might applaud Tanner for doing anything, perhaps this is offered as a stop-gap measure to prevent more significant, more real, limitations on the execution of warrants that put citizens lives at risk for the sake of protecting cops.

Context:

Tanner spent 18 years as a Dawson County sheriff’s deputy and has executed no-knock warrants himself.

Considering the overall uselessness of this “ban” on no-knock warrants, you’d think the police union would just keep its mouth shut and just be grateful no one has pushed for real oversight and reform. But no, the reps just can’t help themselves. Any additional requirements are unwelcome… always.

“I don’t think any changes are needed because it is not easy now,” Mills said.

Define “easy,” International Brotherhood of Police Officers union rep Carrie Mills. There’s practically no oversight as it is. Most magistrate judges — with few exceptions — are more than happy to sign off on anything a cop puts in front of them. And higher courts oblige this rubberstamping by carving up even more “good faith” territory when granting immunity to law enforcement officers who screw up (accidentally or intentionally) their warrant apps.

Then Mills delivers this unbelievable statement, which is supposed to make us feel bad for poor cops facing a very slim possibility of having to cut back on their no-knocking, flashbanging raids.

“You have to draw the line between your right as a citizen to privacy and a community’s right to live in a crime-free environment. You can’t have them both,” Mills said.

Oh, the old “freedom or security, but not both” argument, but badly paraphrased to fit the current situation. The protection of a right that doesn’t actually exist (“right to live in a crime-free environment”) supersedes a right acknowledged (and protected) by the Fourth Amendment.

Or to put it even more graphically — considering the impetus for this proposed legislation: “You can live in a safe neighborhood or live a life free of horrific flashbang injuries, but not both.” Those are your options as long as there’s a war on drugs. And at the rate that war is going, it will be forever before law enforcement agencies agree to limit their use of no-knock warrants.

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Comments on “Police Union: You Can Have Safe Neighborhoods Or Be Free Of Flashbang-Burned Toddlers, But Not Both”

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68 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

Such a difficult choice...

“You have to draw the line between your right as a citizen to privacy and a community’s right to live in a crime-free environment. You can’t have them both,” Mills said.

Well let’s see, the crime in question was the sale of $50 worth of drugs by someone that didn’t actually live on the property. The violation of the ‘right to privacy’ lead to an infant scorched by a flashbang.

Minor drug transaction and no burned infant
vs
Possibly less drug transactions and a burned infant.

Choices choices…

If those are really the only two options, then I think I’ll go with accepting some crime in the area, as it seems to be much safer for everyone.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Such a difficult choice...

Unless you’ve got one of the really nasty criminal types(murderer, rapist, that sort) in the area, you’re pretty much always going to be safer with the police not being around.

A mugger? They might rob you, perhaps rough you up a bit. Someone who breaks into houses to rob them? They might grab some stuff that you’ll need to replace. Drug user/dealer? Depends on the drug, but the biggest ‘threat’ from them will probably end up being robbery if they get desperate to get their fix.

All of the above can cause some damage, but most of them will generally try and avoid confrontations, or take what they want and leave. Worst case, you can defend yourself and your property from them, and most courts will side with you if you do so.

A cop though? They can rob you, hospitalize you, arrest you and throw you in jail on a whim or because you didn’t grovel enough, even kill you, and if you dare to try and defend yourself? You’re looking at a visit to either the morgue, or a hospital followed by prison.

Yeah, I’ll take a criminal without a badge over a criminal with one any day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Such a difficult choice...

Well, some of your arguments do not hold up even with serious criminals. Take the story of a kid that was shot in the damn stomach, and the police decided to go and charge the kid on drug possession and straight up fucking lied about the amount the kid had.

The kid would have been better off without the police and just dealing with a gunshot wound.

It is getting to the point that just calling the police is like an invitation for them to just come and fuck your life over. I would rather shoot any asshole trying to break into my house, police or criminal and let the jury decide. I am patient… I will not cow to a fucking turd bagging DA threatening to drag the world down over my head unless I plea bargain.

Ninja (profile) says:

I don’t know if it will be forever. They have stepped in a very sensitive area. Much like they love to shout “child predators” as a reason for every totalitarian action law enforcement takes it won’t take many dead/crippled children to bring the public opinion against them. I’d rather face the low risk of child predators than the permanent risk of child murderers with badges, no?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Police Attitude

screech to halt

Whoa whoa whoa…. since when was anyone ever confused about this?

The police were NEVER and will NEVER be here to protect freedom of ANY KIND!

They are only here to enforce the law, the idea that they protect and serve only exists in text stuck to the side of a few of their cruisers…. someone has been caught not paying attention?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Also: Police Unions are political whores and activists nothing more

Unions, like many things, can start out good, and over time gradually become corrupted until they’re a bigger problem than what they were formed to solve. It’s kinda human nature, there’s not much you can do about it other than constant vigilance and doing your best to root out corruption when it shows up.

When it comes to police unions… yeah, most of them seem to have become completely corrupted, more interested in protecting police from any repercussions of their actions, no matter how bad those actions may be, than making sure those in their unions get fair treatment and working conditions.

That One Guy (profile) says:

It also requires law enforcement agencies to develop written policies and training for the use of the warrants, require a supervising officer to present when the warrant is executed, and requires police to swear that not using a no-knock warrant would pose “a significant and imminent danger to human life or imminent danger of evidence being destroyed.”

Otherwise known as the current excuse they use for no-knock warrants. This isn’t ‘prohibiting’ anything, all it would do would be to put on paper what they already do.

Here’s hoping the thing is killed off and a bill actually aimed at eliminating, or at least drastically reducing, the problem is proposed and makes it into law.

Also, let’s consider for a moment the first bit I emphasized there, because the implications seem to be pretty bad. If the bill would require them to put together guidelines and proper training courses for serving a warrant, that would seem to suggest that currently no such thing exists or occurs.

No guidelines, no training, it’s left completely up to individual officers how they want to handle a given situation, and I don’t know about you, but that is not a pleasant thought.

cfv says:

There's a simple way out

Pass either a law expanding legitimate defense to “seemingly random people invading your house with military gear” or one making police officers pay personally, from their own salary, irrespective of them working for the specific PD or not (so they can’t quit and escape punishment).

The only simple thing that would improve the current situation with cops is having them face real consequences for their actions.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: There's a simple way out

Unfortunately, ‘Personal responsibility’ is considered one of the most vile, unspeakable phrases in police and political lingo, such that to even mention it is often grounds for shock, dismay, attempts to change the subject, or if all of that fails, personal attacks and attempts to undermine the one who uttered the ‘obscenity’.

Anonymous Coward says:

What's the point of a no-knock raid anyway?

Any drug dealer worthy of the title will have perimeter security in place sufficient to detect the cops coming and will be either (a) ready to comply in full (b) gone or (c) ready to fight back.

If it’s (a) then there’s no reason.
If it’s (b) then there’s no reason.
If it’s (c) then how is the security of the surrounding neighborhood served by initiating a firefight between two heavily-armed parties?

No-knock raids are the tool of lazy, ignorant, idiotic police who lack the intellectual ability to devise and use better alternatives AND who really don’t give a damn what happens to all the bystanders.

David says:

Re: What's the point of a no-knock raid anyway?

I was going to comment on

While one might applaud Tanner for doing anything, perhaps this is offered as a stop-gap measure to prevent more significant, more real, limitations on the execution of warrants that put citizens lives at risk for the sake of protecting cops.

that I don’t see how this sort of thing is supposed to be protecting cops, mainly because of your point (a).

The basic avoidance strategy is then to have backup and do the search/arrest in a manner where this is obvious.

You don’t need to engage the SWAT team. You don’t need to sacrifice some door-knocker either: a megaphone has worked for this purpose for centuries.

This sort of no-knock attack is not just endangering the lives of bystanders unnecessarily but also the actual life of the police officers storming in. Not just because of friendly fire.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What's the point of a no-knock raid anyway?

On one hand, this article (METRO NEWS BRIEFS: CONNECTICUT; Judge Rules That Police Can Bar High I.Q. Scores) is 14 years old but assuming it still applies, I wouldn’t be too surprised that some less-than-stellar officers, finding themselves in a stressful situation would opt for search-and-destroy as opposed to rational discourse.

On the other hand, a large portion (about 60% of these cases) involve people that have had previous run-ins with cops. However, even out of these cases it’s the “I know this guy’s guilty of well… something, so what can I pin on him?” kind of attitude that prevails.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: What's the point of a no-knock raid anyway?

In other words, a no-knock raid is nearly identical to a battle between two rival drug gangs, except that one gang wears a blue uniform and $23,000 worth of military gear and suffers no legal consequences for any of their actions during the battle because they are designated the Good Guys, even though they initiated the battle.

Interesting.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: A no-knock raid IS identical to a gang hit.

The police is no different than a street gang on its own turf. (Remember in most turf wars, the police can’t be bothered to prosecute gang homicides).

The next step is for neighborhood persons to start offering a tribute (first, brownies, later cash) to assure that their houses don’t become the location of an incident.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Brownies for the precinct.

I wonder if some nice matronly woman came to her local precinct with two pans of brownies and a street address saying “As a part of a family home AT THIS LOCATION, I just wanted to express my appreciation to the precinct. Here’s my name and contact info if you ever need anything, dearies.” If the officers there would even pick up what was going on.

Heck. I bet that’s happening a bit already.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Brownies for the precinct.

Actually I think they would hold the woman in a cell until they had the brownies analyzed for illegal drugs, poisons, and controlled substances and then, just to be sure, they’d raid the woman’s house and tear it apart to insure that she was not setting up some kind of trap for LEO’s who might come seeking additional brownies later.

Siege mentality.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Brownies >>> Raid

OK, but the Brownies will have to be made with massive quantities of that nasty Canadian Weed they call Skunk, or top quality Hawaiian Indica, to insure that the LEOs are seriously impeded in their ability to shoot straight, think bent or find their feet.

And I want a second half ton Truck load of same for the experimenters and home owners…….. cuz…. Brownies!! 🙂

Violynne (profile) says:

If there’s anything that TV shows have taught me, it’s that it’s time we return to baring our doors.

The only way this story concludes for its crime against humanity is the house is now taken as part of asset forfeiture.

I know there are good cops out there, but these types of stories are making their job more difficult than it has to be.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Good cops out there...

Considering this incident, good cops are getting culled out in favor of policies that endorse bad-cop behavior. There’ve also been reports in the NYC area of officers being pressured to not merely stand silent but participate in more aggressive, confrontational methods in order to sustain their jobs.

Considering that a good cop cannot survive in a municipal precinct, I think they have to become bad cops nor cease being cops at all.

So I’d question the notion that there still are good cops at all. Maybe in some small town somewhere in a precinct of three.

Ambrellite (profile) says:

Crime free? Really?

Is he talking about the same “crime-free” environment where people are afraid to leave their houses at night for fear of being attacked/robbed by police? The same one where police meet peaceful protests with guns raised? The same one where well-connected criminals are given every opportunity to escape justice, while ordinary people have their lives destroyed for minor offenses?

Why do people like Mills get to draw the line between security and civil rights?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Crime free? Really?

1984 described a pretty crime-free environment: surveillance in every home (“nothing to fear”), almost no furniture (“nothing to hide”). Maybe that’s the line they want us to walk.
Everybody living:
* in concrete blocks – hey no more floor boards to stash weed under;
* with very little furniture – no room for weed or meth;

Obviously being sarcastic here…

Anonymous Coward says:

You have to draw the line between your right as a citizen to privacy and a community’s right to live in a crime-free environment.

I am amazed that any of our ancestors in this country survived to have offspring, given this statement. I mean they had guns they toted around every day as citizens. They’d even gather together, not as cops but as citizens to defend their right to a crime-free environment, with those guns. The most amazing thing about that? It was ok with the law to have some help. Now suddenly, we can’t get together to protect ourselves as a community?

At this point, I feel I’m safer with the criminals.

Just Another Anonymous Troll says:

Liberty and security are not mutually exclusive, in fact they are just the opposite.

Telling someone to choose between liberty and security is pretty damn stupid. You can’t really have one without the other.
Say I abolish all the laws, providing almost unlimited liberty at the price of security. Then we have warlords and ‘might makes right’. You also end up losing liberty because you can’t be free if some guy who has a bigger stick can take all your stuff and kill you with little fear of repercussion. Of course, it’s great if you have the biggest stick, possessing liberty and security, but the plebs below you have neither.
Now let’s say I make the world into a hypersurveilled police state. You lose a lot of liberty, but you gain security, or so you’d think. Of course, the law enforcement will have pretty much limitless power, and they’ll be able to shoot you or go all civil asset forfeiture on your stuff. Life’s good if you’re in law enforcement or government, but those who aren’t have lost their liberty and they fear you, so they lack security as well.
The only outcome that is fair for all is a balance of liberty and security. Unfortunately, our governing bodies have the incentive to swing us toward the second example, because it ends with them on top and us in the dung pit.

Christopher (profile) says:

Re: tarded statement much?

Fifty years ago, before SWAT:
-cops carried nightsticks and used them;
-bulletproof vests weren’t available;
-cops carried way more than six rounds, as they had dump pouches, speed loaders, even ammo belts. Only a desk officer carried a moldy six-gun with no reloads. Any patrol officer carried as many rounds as possible, and backup weapons if they could afford them;
-no civil service protection existed;
-no medical benefits, no insurance, five days sick time;
-pay was about the same as an entry-level manufacturing job;
-patrol cars were not the overwhelming norm in cities, foot patrols were;
-rural towns had shotguns or deer rifles for deputies of elected sheriffs;
-prosecutors were even more likely to take an officer’s word over a suspect;
-no-knock warrants happened then, too, but good luck finding as many stats on them.

It’s a better job than it was then. However, an officer had a pension and respect, was taught restraint because the dangers were more immediate and fatal, and had the backing of most of the population because of this. Debatable? Sure, but it fits the overall pattern of the job in 1965.

I know many, many people who were there. I’m all for thought experiments, but first-hand accounts trump them.

-C

Anonymous Coward says:

privacy??

“You have to draw the line between your right as a citizen to privacy and a community’s right to live in a crime-free environment. You can’t have them both,” Mills sai

This isn’t just about privacy. It’s about safety. It’s about burnt babies and citizens accidentally mistaking a cop for a burglar and shooting them.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

A reminder from an old fart

In the 70s and 80s, that is the big cocaine / Miami-Vice / peak-homicide era, we averaged 500 SWAT raids a year, reserved specifically for their original intent, hostage-barricade situations.

Now (2014-2015) we’re averaging 50,000 SWAT raids a year. Because an anonymous tip of a minor drug deal is grounds for no-knock breach-and-clear SWAT attacks on family homes.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Modest proposed anti-no-knock law

Before proceeding with a no-knock warrant, officers must flip a fair quarter having heads and tails. If the result of the flip is tails, the officers shall carefully record that no-knock was not used, to permit statistical reporting by no-knock go and no-go.

If the result is tails, the procedure may be repeated for the same warrant, but each occurrence of tails shall be recorded as above.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Modest proposed anti-no-knock law

If the result of the flip is tails, the officers shall carefully record that no-knock was not used, to permit statistical reporting by no-knock go and no-go.

If the result is tails, the procedure may be repeated for the same warrant, but each occurrence of tails shall be recorded as above.

And if it’s heads?

Anonymous Coward says:

You can have either total security or freedom, but not both.

Wait… didn’t it used to be freedom that was the main point in that sentence? That in order to have freedom we would have to give up a little security and that it was desirable?
There is obviously some sort of anomaly that cross-wires the brain and makes those that have it, want to either be law enforcement or politicians… I think I have actually read about it. What was it called again? oh yeah! stupidity

Anonymous Coward says:

They do the things they do because its all they know, and its easier in comparison to the, granted, the very much harder way of coming up with perpetual ideas to bring our societies, individuals, together in a natural peaceful co-operation, the harder AND longer natural solution, some no doubt thonk everything is fine as its now, and WANT to keep things the same………i dont, i’ve witnessed inovation in many things over these last past years, the one i hardly ever see inovated is human idealogy, i mean globally………….the one i think we all need is to actually undrrstand and take the individual right seriously……..what we get now are those that pass things onto other either not taking the individual right into account at all, no taking it as the serious thing it is, or worse, those that do care, but twisting its meaning because they dont have the understanding of it as they think they do

I console myself in thinking that im a different person then i was 10 years ago, at least i hope i am, maybe thats what everybody needs, time to reflect, those that do

We have to not think about the rights of nations, but the rights of earth…….to many things being proposed may protect a right of a nation, but tend to make the rights of earth take two steps back, the rights of earth IS the rights of nations……..an aside not, the eu as it stands now is not doing that job……..its idealogy in my mind is stuck in the past…………dont get me wrong, i agree with the spirit i once thought the eu was created on, even some of its ideals, mostly the ones they dont take seriously

There needs to be a fight for peace, in our minds rather then in the world

My 2cents

Anonymous Coward says:

solution

I really don’t understand the difficulty here. Police do these things because they aren’t responsible for the consequences of their actions.

So the solution is simple, strip them of their qualified immunity, make the police officers personally liable when they use a no-knock warrant, make them have to show in a court of law that their actions, given the information they had at the time were reasonable.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Hope isn't a solution...

But as it is violent revolution is the inevitable solution given that the parties (and those who follow them) are happy to quibble all day about trivia, and remain gridlocked, regardless.

But eventually there will be enough people who’ve lost everything and have nothing left to lose.

Myself, I’m not in a position to know if that will take months or decades.

But bread and circuses only work when everyone has access to them. Those missed end up lean and hungry.

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