The CSO likes to say disturbing things like "the police are a force of nature that you just try not to piss off."
Most of the time, I give him a "Now honey..." sort of response.
But I have to say, recent events in my area have me considering the wisdom of his attitude.
Regular readers know that I am a big fan of Radley Balko's blog The Agitator. One of the Balko's frequent themes is that small communities have taken their homeland security monies and bought SWAT teams. Now they are using their SWAT teams to serve search warrants in "No-Knock raids." And when the people inside the raided houses see guys in black storming into their house and, reasonably or not, shoot at them, the cops fire back. Thus we get pretty stories like the innocent housewife killed for pointing a gun at cops who came storming into her bedroom at five a.m.
Well, now Fairfax County has one of those.
On the night of January 24, the Fairfax County police were preparing to raid the house of one Salvatore Culosi. As they approached his house, he came out and headed toward his car. The officers were advancing on his when one of them just shot him for no apparent reason.
The dangerous crime that required a SWAT team to serve the search warrant?
He was a bookie.
An optometrist by day, mind you, but a bookie at night.
People who've been reading this blog for awhile may also recall that the cops searched my house for my brother last year. Though my brother was wanted for rape and kidnapping*, the police came to The CSO's and my house on a Saturday afternoon. Our house was messy and I was really embarassed, but I don't recall anyone having their guns drawn. Five cops searched the house. (And not nearly carefully enough, I might add. If I ever get raped and/or kidnapped, I hope the cops are careful enough to look for the perpetrator behind the Franklin Stove and in the knee-wall attics.) It took about fifteen minutes. No flash grenades, no kicking the door in, no riot gear.
Though come to think of it, no warrant. I just let them in because I had nothing to hide and I wanted them to stop following me around.
It trips me out that next time they come looking for Oliver, they could kick down my door at five a.m. Theoretically, I should be OK because the CSO and I don't keep guns in the house, but not having a gun didn't save Culosi.
*My brother met a 14-year-old on the internet who wanted to run away from home to his house. Later on, she got scared and said that he'd kidnapped her, but the emails all supported his version of the truth. Rather than charging him for rape and kidnapping, I sort of wish they had just made stupidity a crime.
Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
That said, the SWAT teams obviously need better training as to how to react when violence is NOT called for. They need a bigger repertoire and more practise to make them automatic.
Plus, there is the problem of the fallacy that violence is protective, which it rarely is. Violence generally begets more violence, except in specific circumstances. Someone must have a good analysis of this.
Small town cops, who think to much of themselves and their jobs. I mean, how manly is it really to give out tickets and bust a hgh school party.
Now they got a chance to whip it out and they are going to do it.
In my opinion.. and it is pretty strong when it comes to our police forces in America, we need to be a taking a better look at who exactly is signing up to police officers in the first place, and their reasons for doing it.
This is why I agitate in favor of eliminating all city police forces in favor of elected Sheriffs. In all 93 counties of Indiana the elected Sheriffs have a better reputation and fewer lawsuits than the nearest big city police force. There's something about having to answer to voters that results in higher standards...
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