Monday, March 12, 2007

Rise in Drug Raids

Of all the aspects of the drug war that bother me nothing frightens and enrages me more than the SWAT tactics associated with no-knock drug raids. It is nothing new for most of us who have read Radley Balko's Overkill or spent some time viewing the Drug War Victim's memorial page, that drug raids are often extremely dangerous. Often resulting in traumatized children and families, wrong addresses, and deaths of innocent civilians and police officers as well.

Look at this story focusing on Passaic County, New Jersey, where law enforcement officers from city, county, state and federal agencies have escalated their raids on homes in an attempt to crack down on narcotics. From 2001 to 2006, the number of warrants authorizing such raids more than tripled. Heres is an audio file from victims of one such Paterson raid, in which they describe the shooting of their family dog by raiding SWAT officers.

The raid was one of more than 350 search warrants executed in Passaic County in 2004. In their efforts to crack down on the Paterson-area drug trade, law enforcement officers from city, county, state and federal agencies have escalated their raids on homes, sometimes using heavily armed units to batter down doors and tear through residents' belongings as they search for stored contraband. The number of houses and apartments Paterson Police Department's narcotics bureau entered also tripled during that period; in 2006 city police obtained warrants to search 162 homes.

Local raids have resulted in hundreds of arrests and the seizure of millions of dollars in cash and illegal drugs. They have also left a wake of traumatized innocents -- children, seniors, neighbors and visitors who happened to be present during a search. Despite the Fourth Amendment's safeguard against "unreasonable searches and seizures," residents have few protections during the course of a raid, legal experts say.

Please read this full investigation by Suzanne Travers. It goes into great detail about the after effects of these raids on American's and in particular the children that are involved. Its also talks about incidents in which non-violent teens was smashed in the face with the butt of a rifle and then told to lie about it, saying it was a coffee table that did the damage.

It seems the police can do anything they want when drugs are the excuse. Nothing frightens me more than the idea of having my house raided at 4am because an informant with everything to lose rats me out to save his/her own ass. I just find it disgusting really. No amount of drug use or possession justifies such actions in the privacy of our homes.

3 comments:

800 pound gorilla said...

These raids are another facet of the "poor penalty" that working class folks who work just at or above minimum wage endure. They pay higher rates for life and health insurance. They are more likely to be hit with service charges for checking accounts because they have less money for the low charge accounts requiring higher balances. They are more likely to not have health insurance where they work. They live in neighborhoods where drug profiteers reside and encounter more violent crime and incidental violence. They are more likely to get arrested and verbally or physically browbeaten by aggressive police tactics. They have less access to legal resources after being abused - which is why police confine their drug searches to lower income areas. And now, they are more likely to encounter directly or secondarily [next door neighbors] the effects of commando style drug raids [that give a HUGE adrenaline rush for police participants - and since those on the other side are way overmatched in firepower, it's like being a kid playing cops and robbers with all the thrill and none of the real-time risk]. When will the legislators shut down this playground for overgrown adolescents attracted to police work because of commando tactics?

drug rehab said...

Thanks for this post. It seems true that drug raids are really dangerous. I actually shrug when I think of a throng of police ransacking our household in the middle of the night. My friend had the same incident leading to his son's arrest. Now, that young chap is spending days in a drug rehab.

--Stacy

Drug Rehab said...

Thanks for this post. It seems true that drug raids are really dangerous. I actually shrug when I think of a throng of police ransacking our household in the middle of the night. My friend had the same incident leading to his son's arrest. Now, that young chap is spending days in a drug rehab.

--Stacy