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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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    t1401hm

    over 3 years ago

    1754 Comments

    Before people buy houses as sheriff's sales, they should try to find out if the previous owner had their name cleared from the house's address system. I remember hearing a couple stories where the sheriff department has gone to someone's house on a listed warrant. The person, of course, skipped town, but the last known address was the house that the department kept going to.
    I would assume that before a swat team entered a house, they'd be 100% sure that the person atleast lived (or was being harbored) there at that present time.

  • 309

    Hbryant188

    over 3 years ago

    594 Comments

    @ Retleo...its not necessarily the liberals and aclu showing concerns over this. what if one of these botched swat raids happened at your home? im sure you would be pissed at the damage they do to your home or you become injured while reacting thinking someone is breaking into your home. its a very touchy debate that involves everyone. the police yell POLICE when they kick down a door, not as they're running up to the house so a homeowner could hear someone coming, get in a defensive position and get killed for trying to defend his home thinking it was someone else trying to get in.

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    skanea1

    over 3 years ago

    958 Comments

    I won't criticize No-Knock. It is an effective tool if utilized properly. Surveillance is absolutely essential, especially considering the consequences that can occur.

    If proper surveillance procedures are followed, and all reasonable under cover investigative work is conducted; then No - Knock is an effective tool. However, if there is incomplete or "sloppy" pre-emptive work done, it is not the policy but those in charge who are responsible for its failure.

    I completely understand that time is a factor. When is it not? But if experience tells you that there can be major failures, those possibilities have to be addressed prior to execution.

    There are many departments who do a great job. A department has to ask itself if it is getting lax. Supervisors will always be responsible for the conduct of their units and departments. So they must be vigilant in addressing every issue and ensuring that proper procedures, training, and discipline are in place. It is never ending.

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    FattimusPrime

    over 3 years ago

    372 Comments

    It's a fine line, you can't please everyone, but you can do your best to ensure safety of people and accuracy of information.

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    FattimusPrime

    over 3 years ago

    372 Comments

    I'm gonna get ripped a new one on here for this.....
    No knocks are okay so long as some surviellance is done on that house to verify informant information. Too many innocent people are killed/injured and property damaged because of faulty informant information. I've had 2, 2 people I've known had SWAT knock down their door, one launched tear gas into the house, the tear gas is basically impossible to get out of the house now....its in everything, they had to move and sell the home below market value because of the gas, the police just said sorry, no compensation whatsoever and no charges. 2nd one I knew had swat knock down the door, broke his nose as he was coming to see what all the noise was outside...now the neighbors(the real warrant suspect, fled and never found.). I've also read stories of people in other states who are picking up their handguns thinking someones breaking into the house and getting killed by swat teams and no compensation, no nothing from cities or police departments. No knock warrants should only be issued when information is verified 100%.

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    jhall41

    over 3 years ago

    70 Comments

    There is justification, namely officer safety, for the no-knock tactic but there is a tremendous opportunity for an innocent to get hurt and as mentioned about the training it’s usually fatal. That’s bad enough but then there’s the damage to the house. Who’s responsible for that not to mention trauma to the children? There are examples of this authority being heavily abused by overzealous, militant, para-militery segment. Handling several raids a night leads to an increase in mistakes also. One house off or a typo is a big deal to the home owner. One thing that should be banned completely is justification being based solely on anonymous tips.

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    Retleo

    over 3 years ago

    5524 Comments

    These "Critics" are clueles when it comes to the dangers involved in police work. No Knock warrants are an important tool in the enforcement of the law that allow officers to use surpise and forcible entry to quickly apprehend potential criminals before they can destroy evidence or pick up a weapon to harm, or kill the officers.
    The catterwalling and crying of the Liberals and the ACLU is just something that we all need to become accustomed to (and learn to ignore). They are not the ones being killed in the line of duty, they are not the ones facing unknown dangers while attempting to apprehend the criminals that terrorize our communities. They live in a fantasy world where everyone is supposed to be civil and kind to each other. The REAL WORLD is a foreign concept to them.

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    NTX5oh

    over 3 years ago

    106 Comments

    Lady....could they have used rubber bullets or spray, yeah....if this had been a traffic stop. You dont take less-lethal ammunition to a raid, nor do you have the luxury for sitting there and saying. Oh! That's a golf club? I'm sorry I thought it was a sword...ok, well give me a second, I gotta change my ammuntion in my weapon. As far as the ACLU....yeah, well, never mind. I can't comment on them without using an entire list of four letter words...

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    wiseass0282

    over 3 years ago

    10982 Comments

    Screw the ACLU What a bunch of bull. I have been on dozens of No Knock Warrants were the suspect was stopped while his hand was within inches of guns. And these were not innocent citizens I'm talking about. Had we knocked they would have had the guns in their hands when we came through the door. Even with the No Knock warrant we have had to shoot suspects who opened fire on us and again, these were not innocent citizens. The very first No Knock warrant I served the suspect on the second floor was in the process of trying to flush 3 oz of cocaine down the toilet. But he didn't have time to take the lid off the quart jar he had it stored in and the jar wouldn't go down. Had we knocked, that evidence would have been flushed. The Officers loudly and clearly announce that they are the Police and that they have a Search Warrant. Any citizen would know that unless they have been living in a cave with no TV/News for the past 40 years.

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    HEYSARGE

    over 3 years ago

    16726 Comments

    no comment

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    cgregor12

    over 3 years ago

    3026 Comments

    Ive never seen a problem with this. As long as upon entry every officer is yelling out their credentials it should not be an issue. I had a liberal the other day say "police shouldn't be allowed to sneak into peoples houses to do a raid." Goes to show you, some people don't understand the "no-knock" raid tactic.

  • 2011_range_day_2-19-10_max50

    USLawman1983

    over 3 years ago

    1572 Comments

    We're dealing with hard-nosed bad guys with military / law enforcement type weaponry. The liberals would have us knock, announce and wait for the bad guys to come to door when they're good and ready. Unbelievable!

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    Allen705

    over 3 years ago

    1466 Comments

    Yeah, knock-knock, flush your dope down the toilet and come to the door. lol

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    bmosley136

    over 3 years ago

    176 Comments

    The no knock is for the initial forced entry into the house. After a successful breach, officers announce their presence. This is an officer safety issue as well as the reason for obtaining the no knock in the first place. Any prudent officer should be aware that "busting in" without announcing at all can have dire circumstances.

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    Anonymous

    over 3 years ago

    I agree with Chief171, it's a technique to give the officers an upper-hand. You just have to be 100% positive your intelligence is accurate.

    I also agree with t1401hm; if they made a mistake (which happens less than not) and entered my home, I'd like to know it was law enforcement so I can pose no threat to them. On the flip side of that, if I hear someone entering my house, I have a firearm readily available anywhere I am and assume they are a threat.

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