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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_banned_big

    theshieldman2000

    about 3 years ago

    578 Comments

    Sorry taylorguy....then it sounds like you need to get off swat and work a case once in a while. There's alot more to police work then "Contain and callouts", but if that is you putting your "butt" on the line....kudos!

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    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    Sorry shieldman 18 years swat. I'm in a black and white every day. Again, nationwide too many officers, innocent civilans have been gunned down during no knocks. Contain and callouts accomplish the same end only much much safer.

    Again
    You cannot justify no knocks...IMO

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    OlympicJoy

    about 3 years ago

    374 Comments

    AdrieK T totally agree with you.

  • Photo_user_banned_big

    theshieldman2000

    about 3 years ago

    578 Comments

    Are you serious??!!
    "No knocks should not be done....there is no justification.....If it is to catch armed subjects off guard, that is a huge gamble. And you cant catch booby traps or explosives off guard.
    If it is to prevent destruction of evidence, screw that, the case should have already been made long before you needed that piece of evidence."
    Taylorguy123 u are definately not a LEO, and if you are, I weep for your Dept. and jurasdiction. Your statement is the eqivilent of me saying, "containment and callout is for a bunch of chicken-$hits, who are to scared to enter a dwelling and do their job". When in reality, it can be an effective tool (when used in the proper situations). JUST LIKE THE NO-KNOCK WARRANT IS ALSO USDEFUL, in certain situations. Dont degrage a tactic, just because you (if you are an LEO) have never seen it done. However, I suspect you hold a public office and are NOT an LEO.

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    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    The safest technique in my opinion is the contain and callout. Our swat team's method of choice. Set up the perimeter with officers in position safely behind cover, with the people inside at a severe disadvantage. A negotiator calls the occupants out to us. This does away with officers barging in on the unknown whether it be criminals with weapons or booby traps or citizens at a wrong address defending their home.

    This method is much safer than a no knock. I personally think dynamic entries should only be used when hostages are at risk of death.

    No knocks should not be done....there is no justification.....If it is to catch armed subjects off guard, that is a huge gamble. And you cant catch booby traps or explosives off guard.
    If it is to prevent destruction of evidence, screw that, the case should have already been made long before you needed that piece of evidence.

    Sorry but i firmly believe that you cannot justify a no knock. Nationwide, too many officers, innocent civilians, family pets have been gunned down,

    Safety dictates that we stop using them

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    PaulGreen

    about 3 years ago

    482 Comments

    Who could have know what the shiny object was. There is no need to second guess when your in a dangerous situation. The anouncement was made and the reason was given. Stupid move on the bad guys part. We are trained this way. If they don't like the way we do things, then change our training. I wish somebody would make up thier minds.

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    GIOSTORMUSNRET

    about 3 years ago

    34 Comments

    For the critics, there is no x-ray video that can see through the wall to tell if someone is heavily armed or not. The No knock warrant is there to catch such people off guard and thereby unable to harm police. I do believe that better surveillance should be used before getting a no knock warrant. Just using a CI for information about the location and what arms might be in the location is not enough. Research research research.

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    Anonymous

    about 3 years ago

    Wake em in their undies works for me!

  • Aarmystar223_1__max50

    majorgeneralmontym

    about 3 years ago

    54 Comments

    I have applied to many a judge for such a warrant. Lets not forget that NO Knock warrants are issued by JUDGES, not LEO's. I agree with your comments that proper homework almost always helps in deciding whether to seek one. It is intended to protect the LEO's and I suppose accidently the bad guys, although it wasn't really my concern. I also was concerned about the destruction of evidence as well. Since I think most LEO's would agree that the SC 2nd amendment ruling was a victory for the law abiding citizens right to defend themselves; we should also be especially mindful of getting our information right BEFORE we seek the No-knocks. because it may be an innocent person who draws down on you. and then VERIFY THAT ALL YOUR INFORMATION IS ACCURATE BEFORE GOING TACTICAL. We would all like to think that its only the bad guy so who cares. BUT I have been part of a raid that ultimately went to the wrong address ( there was more than 1 of the same place; almost the twilight zone) and trust me, the law abiding citizen becomes less than a cop lover thereafter. I felt really bad and vowed never to let that happen again, but there isnt much you can say to them that will make them feel better after sis is flat on her livingroom floor. to reiterate ilegworldchamp DONT DO SHORTCUTS}}}}}}}}} and DOUBLECHECK AND VERIFY}}}}}}}

  • Steve_mcqueen_max50

    ilegworldchamp

    about 3 years ago

    8966 Comments

    As a Retired Officer who has served dozens of "NO KNOCK WARRANTS" , It was "MY RESPONSIBILITY" to have observed the property and made sure of the informants information along with being the "First in the door". That said , I have been retired since 1986 and many laws pertaining to search warrants have changed to the best of my knowledge. They are more like a "FILL IN THE BLANK APPLICATION". In the old days we actually had to describe the "Area of Search" right down to the color of the trim on the house or business. The owners name and the physical address were also included.
    "THE SEARCH WARRANT WAS ISSUED WITHOUT ANY CHANCE OF MISTAKE BY THE OFFICERS (AS LONG AS THE PROPER PROCEDURES WERE FOLLOWED AND NOT SHORT CUT) (I SAY THIS BECAUSE I KNOW OF ONE INSTANCE WHERE THE STATE POLICE MADE A BO-BO AND HIT THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR ON A DRUG BUST) because protocol was short cut. Say as you please but the process has gotten sloppy with the less restrictive paperwork to make the warrant obtainable by any officer who has "NOT OBSERVED THE PROPERTY TO WITNESS ILLEGAL ACTIVITY OR SUSPECTED ACTIVITY" , SHORT CUTS GET PEOPLE KILLED , BOTH CITIZENS AND POLICE OFFICERS. Just like bullet when it leaves your gun barrel , you are responsible for where it lands and the damage it does. ((((((((((((( "DON'T DO SHORTCUTS"))))))))))

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    CPD82

    about 3 years ago

    466 Comments

    i love how the mother said they couldve used rubber bullets or spray. he idiot maybe youre son shouldnt have had anything in his hands! and if the officers thought he had a sword in his hands, who the hell in their right mind are going to get close enough to use pepper spray? and rubber bullets? sure. maybe thats what we should carry on the street now

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    DirtyHarry55

    about 3 years ago

    20 Comments

    Ladies and Gentleman I am on your side, but please do your homework! Be at the correct address:
    The only violations that my family is likely to commit is minor traffic offenses - everyone speeds or fails to completely stop for a stop sign occasionally:
    No-Knock Search procedures are an effective means to catch dangerous suspects or fugitives’ off guard in order to affect a safe apprehension. Ladies and gentleman it is not a black and white issue.
    Having said that I have read where too many times across various jurisdictions where innocent people are killed to include family pets when the search teams have entered the wrong house and the occupant thinks that someone is breaking into their home. In the state of North Carolina, North Carolina General Statute § 14‑51.1. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder is as follows:
    (a) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence is justified in using any degree of force that the occupant reasonably believes is necessary, including deadly force, against an intruder to prevent a forcible entry into the home or residence or to terminate the intruder's unlawful entry (i) if the occupant reasonably apprehends that the intruder may kill or inflict serious bodily harm to the occupant or others in the home or residence, or (ii) if the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder intends to commit a felony in the home or residence.
    (b) A lawful occupant within a home or other place of residence does not have a duty to retreat from an intruder in the circumstances described in this section.
    The law does not exempt police officers at the wrong house... and most police officers either do not know or do not care that a citizen has the "Right" to resist an unlawful arrest even if it means the death of the police officer. “Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer's life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. This is only one case, there are several. Source: http://www.constitution.org/uslaw/defunlaw.htm
    Turn the tables: You John or Mary police officer is at home and your patrol car is in the shop and you are a rookie and none of the Feds know you or where you and your family live. Suddenly the door crashes and it is actually the FBI or the Marshals Office, but all you see is dark clad people with guns, you think it may be the local gang in the area coming for revenge because some of the gang threatened you and your partner recently and you instinctively responded to the noise with a 12 ga shotgun with 8 rounds of 00 Buck shot... not fully awake and in fear of your life you open up on the intruders...
    As for me if I am awake and I see them coming, because I have closed circuit cameras installed, I will call 911 and tell my oldest daughter (a 911 dispatcher) that they are at the wrong house and to call them off, that is if they are city or county... but if she is not working...
    At Zero-Dark 30, I am not going to ask who is it... if they are breaking into my house, I am going to open up on them with a 12 ga pump or an AR10 semi-auto .308 with a 20 round magazine... when the shooting stops I guess it will be determined by the courts and court of public opinion who was right. Also keep in mind that I am protecting 3 women and a 2 1/2 year old grandson...
    And if you are like me I trained and armed my women, one of my daughters carries a .45 auto, the other daughter and wife a .357 magnum.
    I commend all of you for doing what you do. I can no longer ride to the sound of sirens or cries for assistance... I can encourage those that still do the job to be careful and please do your homework, obtain the proper information and conduct surveillance to make sure that you have the right house... I would be one of the last people to ever want to harm an officer, but I would to protect my family...Be Safe and make it home tonight...Happy Valentines' Day

  • 74596_129289523905506_927477597_n_max50

    CadetAK

    about 3 years ago

    3428 Comments

    You know, it'd be kinda nice to know WHY the DEA went after this particular individual and if he had a previous criminal history. All I see is an argument on why the "no knock" notice is faulty but the story from Utah they use as an example is missing a lot of important info.

    And we all know mothers that say their son was "not a threat to the police" are usually some of the most vile criminals out there that have no regard for human life.

    Just sayin!

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    t1401hm

    about 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    Bump IKdavis71

  • Clone_trooper_max50

    lkdavis71

    about 3 years ago

    1068 Comments

    They complain about the one that goes wrong. What about the ones where the suspects are heavily armed and ready to kill anyone who comes to the door but had no chance because they were surprised.

    It's tragic when and innocent person is injured or killed and improvements should be made.

    Just tell me, what do these people who are complaining say when an officer is killed serving a search warrent (when they knock)? Do they support the officer or do they say " Oh well, at least they knocked".

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