Archive for August, 2007

Massive Demand Increase in Ammunition?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Instapundit links to this interesting blog post, and quotes:

“According to two spokesmen for the world’s largest ammunition manufacturer, which runs the military’s ammunition manufacturing plant and separately, is a major supplier of law enforcement ammunition, it is a massive and unexpected increase in law enforcement ammunition demand that is causing delays in law enforcement ammunition delays, not the war.”

Any criminologists or law enforcement officials out there have ideas on why this might be? Violent crime has risen the last two years, but only negligibly, and only after an historic, 15-year drop to 50-year lows.

Could this just be an effect of the overall trend toward militarization — bigger guns, more guns, guns that fire more rounds?

MORE: See the link above for more updates. Also, Say Uncle emails to say much of this may be due to all of the Homeland Security grants going out to local PDs. There’s probably something to that, too.

Interview With a Former LAPD Narcotics Officer

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

For my Fox column this week, I interviewed David Doddridge, a 20-year veteran of LAPD, a former narcotics officer, and now a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. While I had him on the phone, we chatted about a few other issues, too.

RB: Do you think what happened with Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta–where the cops invented an informant out of whole cloth in order to obtain a search warrant–was an anomaly? Or do you think that kind of thing is common?

Doddridge: Oh, it happens everywhere. There’s tremendous pressure to ‘climb the ladder’ after you make a drug bust. You want to get up that ladder before word hits the street, and the higher-up guys you’re after know that you’re on to them. That leads to the temptation to take shortcuts. What happened in Atlanta goes on all over the country.

RB: You say ‘climb the ladder,’ but one common critique of the use of drug informants I’ve heard is that the lower guys on the ladder aren’t given much information about who’s above them. And because federal grants, performance reviews, and other incentives are tied to arrest numbers, a lot of times you get higher guys copping deals to nab big numbers of lower guys. So the major players end up getting lighter sentences than the lower-level guys. Did you experience that, too?

Doddridge: Yeah, it goes both ways. If you can get a big guy and get him to give up a lot of little guys, you’ll take that, too. Especially if you can get your hands on his books.

RB: At what point in your career did you conclude that the drug war wasn’t working?

Doddridge: About halfway through. We had just hauled this young woman off in handcuffs, mostly for helping her boyfriend. She was going to lose her kids, her house, her future. And it hit me–all of this is for what? What are we doing here? We arrest one drug dealer, and two take his place. I watched while we ransacked parents’ homes because their kids were dealing. I saw the looks on their faces, knowing that their kid’s future was over, and they were probably going to lose their home. This thing [the drug war] was ripping apart the fabric of our communities.

RB: One aspect of the drug war I’ve spent quite a bit of time researching is the militarization of police, the increasing use of SWAT teams. A common response I get from cops is that SWAT teams make warrant service safer. Do you agree with that?

Doddridge: Laughs. Oh, no. Of course not. SWAT teams are trained to deal with dangerous people. When you bring a SWAT team to serve a drug warrant, a drug offender, you’re escalating the situation, not de-escalating it. One thing you have to understand: Cops love action. They crave action. You have thousands of these SWAT teams across the country, now. You’ve got these guys in some small town in Idaho with nothing better to do just looking at each other. “What do we do with this warrant? Well, might as well give it to the SWAT team.” It isn’t necessary.

RB: You helped serve a number of warrants as a narcotics officer. My own suspicion is that these SWAT raids hit the wrong target far more frequently than we read about in the newspaper. Do you agree?

Doddridge: In five years, I personally obtained about 45, maybe 50 warrants. Two of them hit the wrong house. On one, there were two houses on the property, and we picked the wrong one. The other time, it was just wrong. Completely the wrong house.

RB: That’s two out of 50, or around four percent. Based on your experience, do you think that number is representative in drug policing, or is that something you don’t feel you could comment on?

Doddridge: I’d say that’s about representative.

(Note here: There are an estimated 40,000 SWAT raids per year. That would amount to about 1600 raids on innocent victims per year, or 30.7 per week.)

RB: Police groups say that drug dealers are armed to the teeth. Heavily-armed, military-style SWAT teams are necessary to counter this high-powered weaponry.

Doddridge: I’ve heard that. And it’s just not true. In 21 years at LAPD, I never once saw any assault weapons on a drug raid. Drug dealers prefer handguns, which are easier to conceal. Occasionally you’ll find a shotgun. But having a bunch of high-powered weaponry around is just too much trouble for them. It’s too much for them to worry about.

RB: Many thanks for your time.

Umoja Fire Trial- Monday Aug. 13, 11:30AM

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Press Release for immediate release Sunday, August 12, 2007

Umoja Village Arrest Trial Set for Monday, August 13, 2007

Long time resident John Cata on trial for disorderly conduct arrest following shantytown fire

Former Umoja Village resident John Cata is set to go to trial for his arrest which followed the fire which destroyed Miami's shantytown. The trial is set for Monday, August 13, 2007 beginning at 11:30am, at the Richard Gerstein Justice building, 1351 NW 12th St. in court room 2-11. A devastating fire destroyed the Umoja Village Shantytown on April 26, 2007, just three days after the village's six month anniversary. Over one hundred community members turned out to support the residents and defend the Village before city of Miami police arrested 11 people, including John Cata. Cata was charged with disorderly conduct for attempting to retrieve his belongings from the ashes of the fire and with resisting arrest without violence after his weakened condition obligated police to carry him to the police car. Cata subsequently fainted and was taken to the VA hospital instead of jail. While the lot remained vacant for eight (8) years, the city of Miami was able to erect a fence around the lot within hours of the first arrest. In 1968, a 25 year old John Cata lead the team negotiating the first contract for 1,000 newly unionized Jackson Memorial Hospital workers. After successfully winning higher wages for Jackson workers, Cata was drafted and sent to Vietnam where he served two tours of duty. In 2006, Cata returned to South Florida and, due to the lack of viable options afforded by his pension, lived in a vacant lot for months prior to discovering the Umoja Village. Umoja Village was created on October 23, 2006 in response to the crisis of gentrification and housing in Miami-Dade County. The shantytown housed as many as 50 otherwise homeless people at a time, serving both as a solution and living protest to the housing crisis and the government corruption which contributed to the crisis. The trials of village organizers Max Rameau and Amanda Seaton are set for later in August. Other arrestees have settled their cases. - end -

 

Another Isolated Incident

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Here’s another one I missed while researching Overkill.

“The lady (SWAT officer) says ‘Mother F—–, I said get down or I’ll blow your f—— brains out,’” Roach said. “We were just blown away. We didn’t know what was happening, it happened so fast.”

Court documents showed police were acting on a tip from an informant that crack cocaine was being sold from Roach’s address at the time, 1773 Wilson Avenue.

A search warrant listing that address was executed and, afterward, Roach said a SWAT team pointed guns at his family, including six children ages one to 16. Then police discovered the informant had given the wrong information.

The raid happened in December 2004. It’s in the news because the family’s lawsuit was just thrown out of court on qualified immunity grounds.

“It is fundamentally under Kentucky law that the power to exercise an honest discretion necessarily includes a power to make an honest mistake in judgement,” the judgment read.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney William O’Brien said the judgment exonerates the city from any liability and that it’s a balancing act of society’s needs.

So what incentive is there to not take shortcuts, and make sure the informant knows what he’s talking about next time?

SWATenfreude

Friday, August 3rd, 2007

See Senior Corporal Johnny Baker of Dallas SWAT. See Cpl. Baker bust pot-smokers, poker players, and all matter of other people engaging in consensual activity with violent raids, crassly televised on the A&E cable network for all the world to see.

Now see Cpl. Baker get fired from the Dallas SWAT team for having sex with a prostitute.

Take heart in the fact that there is some small bit of justice in the universe.

Speaking of Drug Raids…

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

…another isolated incident.

According to the amended lawsuit, the officers had obtained a search warrant on Sept. 28, 2006 to enter a residence at 126 Circle Drive in Brookeland. The Hunts reside in a mobile home located at 940 Church Street in Brookeland.

[…]

The lawsuit alleges that Hunter, Tomplain, Noyola, Poindexter, Erimias, Coulter, Payne and Hall “broke in the door and trashed the house. They kicked in two doors, tore up three lamps and tore down the gate coming into the house.

Officers confronted the Hunts at the rear door of the home and ordered them down at gunpoint, according to the lawsuit.

“All the defendants left the house after they terrorized both plaintiffs and trashed the premises when defendant Hunter belatedly told everybody that they were in the wrong house,” the lawsuit states.

Officials could not comment on the lawsuit.

Note too that this happened in September of last year, and wasn’t reported. Were it not for the lawsuit, we’d never have known this had happened. How many other people have had this happened to them, but were too frightened or scared to go the media, were ignored by the local media, or couldn’t find a lawyer to bring a lawsuit?

Email from a Cop

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

The newspaper in Riverside, California published my testimony before Congress on SWAT teams and paramilitary police actions as an op-ed last week, probably because of a recent botched drug raid there. That sparked a curt response from the local sheriff, as well from another writer who rather amusingly implied that I’ve done “no research to back up” my criticisms.

This morning, I received another email from a longtime police officer who–as many longtime officers do–shares my concerns over the new breed of warrior cops. Full text of his email after the break.

Police Stated

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute quotes yours truly in a piece on our increasingly armed federal government.

Whitehead’s an old-school conservative. We probably don’t agree on everything, but it’s refreshing that there are still groups like Rutherford out there, groups whose healthy mistrust of government persists no matter which party happens to be running it.