Pubdate: Sat, 26 Jan 2008
Source: Tuscola County Advertiser (Caro, MI)
Copyright: 2008 Michigan Media, a division of the Edwards Group
Author: Greg Francisco
Note: Title by MAP


Dear Editor,

Thank you for printing the outstanding Jan. 19 letter from Bob Wood 
regarding dynamic entry drug raids. Wood gets it exactly right.

All over the United States, innocent citizens are being injured and 
killed during dynamic entry drug raids on private homes. Ninja clad 
SWAT teams routinely first announce their presence with stun grenades 
lobbed through windows or battering rams at the door. Only later do 
they get around to identifying themselves as police, much less 
showing a warrant. The intention of course is to create chaos and 
throw the "perps" off balance. Problem is, when you intentionally 
combine chaos and guns, accidents are sure to happen. Which they do, 
with distressing regularity.

Dynamic entries are rarely required. A simple knock on the door or 
arresting a drug suspect on the street is almost always easier and 
safer... particularly when children are in the home.

The drug squads justify dynamic entries as necessary for officer 
safety. What about citizen safety? Dynamic entry puts all of the 
occupants of the home, not just the criminal, in danger. Innocent 
occupants are far more likely to be injured or killed during a 
dynamic entry than is a police officer properly knocking and serving 
a warrant. It is the duty of the police to put citizen safety 
foremost. It is not the duty of citizens to sacrifice their own 
safety to protect the police. Putting an officer's safety ahead of a 
child's borders on cowardice.

Earlier this month, a 26-year-old mother was shot in her own home 
during a dynamic entry by the Lima, Ohio SWAT team. The bullet that 
killed her first passed through the hand of her one-year-old babe in 
arms. The target of the raid was her boyfriend, a suspected nickel 
and dime street dealer. The drug evidence obtained in the raid was 
insignificant. At least the Lima SWAT team got the right house.

Radley Balko, writing for the Cato Institute in his 2006 study, 
"Overkill: the Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," documented 41 
cases of innocents killed over the last decade during dynamic entry 
raids. Among them were 92-year-old Katherine Johnson, Atlanta, GA; 
57-year-old and devote churchgoer, Alberta Sprail, N.Y., N.Y. and 
11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda, CA; and father of seven, Ismael Meda, 
CO. None of them drug users, no drugs or other contraband was found 
after the bullets stopped flying. Right house, wrong house. You're still dead.

Proponents of dynamic entry dismiss these as "isolated incidents." 
Balko labels them "an epidemic of isolated incidences."

I wholeheartedly endorse Wood's suggestion that dynamic entries 
should be reported in the local press every time they are used. Doing 
so would serve as a lesson and have a deterrent effect on others 
contemplating various misdeeds. It would give the drug squads an 
opportunity to make the case as to why a dynamic entry was necessary.

They may call it a War on Drugs, but that does not give the state the 
right to use warlike tactics against the people. It is only a matter 
of time before it happens in your community, too.

In closing, I should mention that I am a former federal law 
enforcement officer and a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime 
Law Enforcement Academy. Not only have I been trained in dynamic 
entry techniques, before I left the service I had advanced to become 
the dynamic entry team leader for the Coast Guard Station protecting 
the outer harbor of a major East Coast city.

Greg Francisco

member, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake