Over 100 times a day, militarized police officers throughout America raid the homes of individuals suspected of possessing, using, and sometimes distributing drugs.
These increasingly frequent raids subject many peaceful individuals, including innocent people such as family members, roommates, and bystanders, to the horror of having their homes invaded.
Often, these raids are conducted while the home’s occupants are sleeping, and are executed by officers who look more like soldiers than peace officers, decked out as they usually are in paramilitary gear and guns galore.
Between 1989 and 2001, criminologist Peter Kraska has found at least 780 cases of flawed paramilitary raids which made it to the appellate level in court. Often times, the SWAT team involved got the address wrong, and thus invaded the wrong home, terrorized the wrong family, and destroyed the wrong property in the process.
Even when they get the address right, officers’ plans can go wrong. Last week’s botched raid in Ogden, for example, resulted in six officers being shot, one of who died from his wounds. But the Weber-Morgan County Narcotics Strike Force, which executed the “knock and announce” search warrant, already had a controversial and horribly botched raid to its name.
On September 16, 2010, the same unit invaded a home of an Ogden man with a “no-knock” warrant (which they forgot to even bring with them) to search for drugs.
Though the suspect was a roommate who had already moved out, they proceeded with their raid in the dead of night.
Once police busted down the door with guns drawn, they encountered Todd Blair standing in a defensive position with the only weapon he could quickly access: a golf club. Fearing for their safety, and claiming they thought it might be a sword, the officers put three bullets into Blair’s body, dropping him instantly.
Imagine yourself in this situation. It’s midnight and you’re woken out of a deep slumber by the sound of screaming men inside your home. As the adrenaline immediately surges through your veins and in the fraction of a second you have to make a decision, would you not reasonably suspect that you’re being attacked, and must therefore defend yourself, your family and your property?
Considering the numerous instances in which police officers invade the wrong home, use excessive force, and injure or kill innocent individuals as part of the so-called “war on drugs,” it might instead be argued that these policies, along with the militaristic method by which they are often enforced, are actually a war on American citizens.
Think about it: hundreds of homes are being invaded daily (or nightly, as is often the case) by highly trained police officers who often feel, as an Arizona SWAT officer once said, that “you get to play with a lot of guns... it’s friggin’ fun, man.”
This heavy-handed enforcement is often riddled with errors and accidents, resulting in the destruction of property and death of innocent bystanders. Does this not sound like war?
It’s time for a tactical offensive on the real enemy: failed anti-drug policies. Let’s stop killing peaceful people and filling the prisons with the ones who survive, but instead find a more sane, humane and reasonable approach to dealing with the drug crisis.
In short, let’s promote peace as the necessary alternative to the war currently being waged on American citizens.
Connor Boyack is the director of the Utah Tenth Amendment Center and author of Latter-day Liberty: A Gospel Approach to Government and Politics. He blogs at www.connorboyack.com, is a frequent guest on radio shows, and regularly publishes opinion pieces in a variety of newspapers and websites. A California native and Brigham Young University graduate, Connor currently resides in Lehi, Utah, with his wife and two children.