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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The difference between knocking on doors, and knocking down doors

Police officers and civilians continue dying in armed raids targeting the homes of drug suspects, and USA Today reports that law enforcement is looking at changing its tactics.

The issue comes after a raid in Utah on the home of a former U.S. army soldier who apparently grew marijuana for his own consumption left one officer dead and five injured.

A law enforcement agency advisor named Pat McCarthy told the paper that the often-used method of
sending heavily armed officers charging into people's homes is just too dangerous for police officers.
"Cops are exposing themselves to increasing danger many times over, and it's just not necessary... The days of knocking down doors in drug cases should be over. Given what's going on now, you have to consider other options," McCarthy said.
He said law enforcement officials should focus more on attempting to lure suspects out into the open or simply "wait them out."
The paper reports that ten officers died across the country in 2011 while serving warrants or participating in multi-agency raids.

Balko already raised the issue, infuriated by the post-facto rhetoric tossed around after a tragedy that serves as justification for further raids. He goes after the DEA spokesperson Frank Smith's comments about the drug raid in Utah:
How about the fact that he hadn’t harmed a soul until armed government agents broke down his door? Reading these articles is like slamming your head against the wall. People keep dying. And the drug warriors keep taking that as confirmation that they need to double down on the policies that are exactly why people keep dying.
Headlines on this story make a big difference. While I'm a big fan of the folks at The Crime Report, who aggregate and summarize criminal justice-related news every day, they really messed up this headline.

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