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Critics Beat Down the No-Knock Police Raid

Critics Beat Down the No-Knock Police Raid

USAToday.com

February 14, 2011

Dressed in black and carrying assault rifles, members of a local multi-jurisdiction police unit burst into a dark home in Ogden, Utah, one night in September shouting, “Police! Search warrant!”

A video of the incident made by the Weber-Morgan counties Narcotics Strike Force and the federal Drug Enforcement Agency shows a man suddenly appearing in a hallway holding a shiny object that an officer thought was a sword, but was really a golf club, according to Weber County Attorney Dee Smith.

In the instant he appeared, the video shows, three shots rang out and the man, Todd Blair, 45, fell to the floor, dead.

The Ogden incident was among a growing number of no-knock police raids last year, a tactic that has grown in use from 2,000 to 3,000 raids a year in the mid-1980s, to 70,000 to 80,000 annually, says Peter Kraska, a professor of criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University who tracks the issue.

That increase has raised questions about the tactic, including whether the surprise element poses an unnecessary threat to people whose residences are invaded.

Judges can issue no-knock warrants when they believe the element of surprise could help officers avoid danger or keep people from destroying evidence, Kraska says.

Is a no-knock warrant a good idea or an over-used tactic best left for McNulty in The Wire?


Critics say the no-knock tactic gives residents — some innocent — seconds to decide if they face a police raid or a home invasion.

At times, particularly in drug cases, police make their case for no-knock search warrants based on faulty information from unreliable informants, says Ezekiel Edwards, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union.

“That’s just going to increase invasions of privacy and tragic harm to both residents and officers,” he says.

In the Odgen incident, Sgt. Troy Burnett was found to have handled the situation appropriately, Smith says. “This was a split-second decision. He acted according to his training.”

Arlean Blair, mother of the man who was shot, says her son posed no threat to officers. “They could have used rubber bullets. They could have used spray,” she says.

Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, says the onus for the increase in no-knock cases is on the judges who authorize such warrants.

The law holds that police should knock and announce themselves, except in special circumstances and when they have approval from a magistrate, says Miller Shealy, assistant law professor at the Charleston School of Law in South Carolina.

They don’t need a no-knock warrant if changing circumstances give them reason to barge in, he says.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    John887

    about 3 years ago

    18 Comments

    There is NO excuse for a no knock warrant, they should be outlawed.

    If the cop is that afraid on the job, then he needs to QUIT & go to barber school.....

  • Blue_line_decal_max50

    crlittle554

    about 3 years ago

    506 Comments

    It's a tricky line to take. If the police are correct and there are large amounts of drugs in the house, better believe there are also large amounts of guns in there. And, drug dealers are worried about having their product stolen. So, if someone kicks in the door they're gonna grab a gun to protect it. Flip side of the coin, you knock and announce and then kick the door and you might not find the drugs, and the bad guy is still going to get a gun.
    The only benefit to reducing the no-knock is for situations where civilians might be in the house and grab a gun and get killed in the cross fire. I'm a fan of narcotic stings vs. the no-knock warrant if possible. Get a CI in there to do a buy, so you know you got the product, then bust on in and take care of business. This way the bad guys already distracted with his transaction and you know he's there.

  • Blue_line_decal_max50

    crlittle554

    about 3 years ago

    506 Comments

    BUMP instructor!

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50

    t1401hm

    about 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    Technically, a real drug house would have drug thug guards outside looking for the approach of police. It's a tough call on what to do. It all comes back to making sure you absolutely sure that you're going into the correct house. If not, what happens happens.

  • Images_max160_sq90_max50

    t1401hm

    about 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    LOL Bmorgan "Come on in, the coke's in the fridge"
    Hilarious

  • Steve_mcqueen_max50

    ilegworldchamp

    about 3 years ago

    8966 Comments

    MH557 ;
    Just out of curiosity, what is a "normal, routine drug bust?" Nothing will get you killed faster than approaching a situation with the "this is routine" mindset...

    Routine in this matter is as stated , a small Department , in a suburban location that has been under observation for a prolonged period of time by law enforcement who are using thermal imaging and a parabolic ear to access the number of people inside , the records of the people inside "AS I STATED IN A PREVIOUS POST ON THIS SUBJECT , YOU MUST KNOW YOUR TARGET AND IT'S CAPABILITIES BEFORE YOU ACT. YOU NEVER GO ON JUST AN INFORMANTS INFORMATION WITHOUT FIRST IDENTIFYING ALL THE PLAYERS AND WHAT YOU ARE UP AGAINST. "BETTER REFERRED TO AS GOOD POLICE WORK WITHOUT TAKING SHORTCUTS" , "OR OLD SCHOOL IF YOU LIKE". Routine = every day good police work without shortcuts and good planing making it an orderly every day routine and planning for the worst case scenario up front.

  • 2004_0911_006__max50

    Instructor

    about 3 years ago

    94 Comments

    With most states now having the "Castel Defense Laws" it is risky for anyone to kick in a door to a residence. The law allows for the homeowner or residence of the home to use deadly force if they feel that they are facing a threat of deadly force or they are in fear of their lives. I was a SWAT officer and know firsthand that there are very few cases that require a "No-Knock" warrant. If the resident is suspected of having committed a crime, there are other ways to arrest the person other than raiding the house at night, in the dark, with reduced visibility, for both parties. I served about 40 to 150 warrants per month and I could catch the wanted person either at home, in the day, weekends (Sundays were the best) or at work, or shopping. So easy to single out someone and pick them up. The Macho mentality of a SWAT team should be kept in check, for no other reason than to prevent an officer from having to face a questionable shooting. How many times have you seen in the news where the officers raided the wrong house! I am 100% for the police, but, experience says that there is time to take a breath, look at your options and reduce the risk to all involved. Court should be in front of a Judge, not at the end of a gun.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    BForJuvCor

    about 3 years ago

    846 Comments

    I guess this article is looking out for the safety of the drug dealer, the vermen polluting the town, the criminal enterprise because you know they are more important than the emergency personnel that protect the general public each and every day. What a load of horse plop. Here's an easy solution for this...DON'T BE A CRIMINAL DRUG DEALER!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rafngreenblack_max50

    MH557

    about 3 years ago

    194 Comments

    ilegworldchamp says

    "In a small department you don't call out the local S.W.A.T. team for a normal routine drug bust."

    Just out of curiosity, what is a "normal, routine drug bust?" Nothing will get you killed faster than approaching a situation with the "this is routine" mindset...

  • Pug_max600_max50

    DALLASCRANE

    about 3 years ago

    19386 Comments

    No Knocks are tools. As any tool there are consequences if used incorrectly. Perhaps the Intel needs to be looked at to improve the procedure. Don't blame the hammer for a bent nail..................Get the paperwork right.

  • Steve_mcqueen_max50

    ilegworldchamp

    about 3 years ago

    8966 Comments

    No Leo's don't have X-Ray Vision , "THEY DO HOWEVER NOW HAVE THERMAL IMAGING FOR DYNAMIC ENTRY NOW A DAY". It at least gives you an idea as to how many your up against. Back in my day you needed someone watching the dwelling and using a Parabolic Ear to safely get the job done. S.W.A.T. was used for barricaded Suspects and hostage situations. In a small department you don't call out the local S.W.A.T. team for a normal routine drug bust.

  • Rafngreenblack_max50

    MH557

    about 3 years ago

    194 Comments

    No knocks and contain and call outs are just tools. Its ridiculous to issue a blanket statement condemning or condoning either one. Each has its place, and the users must choose which tool fits the situation. A hammer isn't gonna replace a crowbar, and vice versa. However, use the two in conjunction with each other and something is generally gonna move! We all know the real acronym for SWAT, but unfortunately it sometimes also stands for Sit Wait And Talk!!

  • Derrick_max50

    gradyg

    about 3 years ago

    1118 Comments

    The no knock is great when the house/apt is the right one but what about when it's the wrong house/apt and the cops is in the dark and get's startle and they shoot an innocent person it have happen. What happens then an apology, get real.

  • Photo__1__max50

    thestugots01

    about 3 years ago

    192 Comments

    Good shoot. If an entire group of people screaming "POLICE, SEARCH WARRANT" isn't enough to let you know its not a home invasion then you're a complete idiot.

  • Fidel_pd_uniform_shot_max50

    Oncethere2506

    about 3 years ago

    274 Comments

    I have a question on "Contain and Call-outs." What happens to the kilo of cocaine that your informant tells you is hidden in a dresser draw in the suspects bedroom? Taylorguy123, you are obviously having a problem distinguishing a SWAT entry for a barricaded suspect and an Narcotics entry.

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