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Dog Killing Cops: “I Hate the Internet”
May 14, 2010, 2:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Dog Killing Cops: “I Hate the Internet”

Reason.com
May 12, 2010

Columbia, Missouri Police Chief Ken Burton is apparently frustrated. At another press conference yesterday, a reporter asked the chief what he has learned from the international attention generated by the YouTube video of his department’s SWAT team conducting a drug raid last February.

His reply: “I hate the Internet.”

I’ll bet he does. For two-and-a-half months, Burton and his department were quiet about the raid. That’s likely because, as I wrote yesterday, the raid was really no different from the tens of thousands of similar raids conducted every year, and that are probably conducted by his own department a couple of times per week. Within days of the video hitting the web, Burton was forced to hold several press conferences, and has now laid out several reforms to the way SWAT raids will be conducted in Columbia in the future. I suppose it’s possible those reforms were brewing all along, and the timing of him announcing them after the video went viral was mere coincidence. It seems at least plausible, though, that the dread “Internet” sparked some actual policy changes, here.

Unfortunately the changes—while small steps in the right direction—still miss the point. Burton says his department will no longer conduct SWAT raids at night. They won’t conduct raids in homes where children are present. Suspects will be under constant surveillance until the raid is carried out. And raids will be conducted within a shorter period of time from when police get the initial tip about a suspected drug dealer. But the Columbia Police Department will still conduct volatile, violent, highly aggressive forced-entry raids on people suspected of consensual, nonviolent drug crimes. That is what’s wrong with the YouTube video. Changing the time of day of the raid doesn’t change the wildly disproportionate use of force.

Burton and his department have also criticized web commentary on the video, citing both death threats aimed at members of the SWAT team and an abundance of what Burton calls “misinformation” about the raid.

He’s right. I saw both. In particular, the description that accompanied the YouTube video (which today topped 1 million views) described the pit bull the police killed as crated when it was shot. It wasn’t. (I should disclose that I passed on this bit of incorrect information to several people while discussing the raid before discovering it was incorrect, though I didn’t put it in print). And death threats, even from keyboard commandos posting on Internet discussion boards, are inexcusable.

That said, Burton is deflecting. When the video first went viral, his department’s spokesperson acknowledged that the police didn’t know a seven-year-old boy was in the home, but explained that the department has to carry out drug raids quickly before dealers can move their supply. That was, as Burton would put it, “misinformation.” You might even call it a lie. At the very least, it was another example of a police spokesperson reflexively defending the department before knowing all the facts. Eight days passed between the time the police were tipped off to the alleged marijuana stash and the time they conducted the raid.

As I reported yesterday, according to Brittany Montgomery, the mother and wife in the home at the time of the raid, the police initially gave the family a copy of the video in which the audio and portions of incriminating video had been removed. That sounds like “misinformation,” too. Montgomery also wrote that when her neighbors inquired with the department about the raid, they were initially told it was a drill, and that no shots were fired. That too was “misinformation.” (The department didn’t return my call, so I haven’t been able to get their response to these two allegations.)

“Misinformation” coming from police department officials acting in their official capacity is a hell of a lot more troubling than misinformation disseminated on Internet discussion boards and in blog comment threads.

As for the death threats, yes, they’re an unfortunately ugly part of often-anonymous Internet discourse. But Burton’s men were just captured on video firing off seven rounds into a home just seconds after they’d broken into it. This, despite the fact that there was nothing in the home that posed a lethal threat to them. (Yes, some pit bulls can be dangerous, but not to an armed SWAT team bedecked in full body armor.) One of those rounds missed its intended target (the pit bull) and struck an unintended target (the Corgi). According to Montgomery, there are now bullet holes in the walls of the house. There were other people in that house who weren’t suspects, people the cops weren’t aware of before they started firing their guns, including a child. That seems like a pretty reckless disregard for human life.

But Burton would have us believe that the real outrage here is the faux “if they try to come to my house and do that, I’ll kill them” Internet bravado that came in response to the video, not the very real violence actually depicted in it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwSwvUaRqc

SWAT Team shoot dogs for yelping, reason for raid: a gram of marijuana

SWAT Team Kills Mother and Child During Drug Raid

Mayor’s Dogs Killed After Cops Deliver Pot

Government Admits They Deal Heroin Yet Terrorize Families for Pot

 

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1 Comment so far
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Whenever Citizens read about police needlessly shooting some kid’s pet in front of the child, it resonates beyond anger when such actions were inappropriate by officers; Citizens might consider whether police are mirroring their superiors’ attitude toward certain factions of the public.

Note at the bottom of this comment that the Columbia Police list of “new changes” failed to include taking additional steps to assure snitches are “truthful” before issuing search warrants? Allegedly it was reported the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant stated, Whitworth was a marijuana dealer selling high-grade pot; and the police affidavit cited two “truthful” “reliable” snitches as saying so. Aside from the Whitworth case, aren’t the words, “truthful” “snitches”, an oxymoron—contradictory and incongruous words? How much should police rely on the word of snitches for probable cause to issue search warrants? Consider the makings of a snitch: someone that is forced by police to inform on others and might say anything to stay out of jail and to please their police handler; someone who accepts money to inform on most anyone; or someone that just enjoys snitching, for whatever reason. The aforementioned “snitch types” are at large given credibility by the government to testify against Citizens. Is it any wonder so many innocent people are sent to prison?

In most every country where police-SWAT military styled raids were not brought under control to protect the public, police incrementally moved forward targeting innocent Citizens and others at their homes for minor offenses. In the U.S. there has been such overuse of force by police raiding homes, one might wonder if some police are playing soldier, trying to emulate our troops in Iraq. In foreign countries police have used police military styled raids to target Citizens for their political speech or for attending certain political assemblies; or simply because someone wrote something that offended a government official. Americans should NEVER accept police raid misconduct. Could some police raiding homes have psychological issues that might include wanting to hurt people? There have been a number of reports where U.S. police on raids apparently, needlessly shot down family pets, even in front of their owners. Could some police use such raids as cover to express their inner selves; who is going to listen to a pet owner complain about their dog being needlessly shot after their arrest for drugs, even a tiny amount of pot. Abusive U.S. police military styled raids have increasingly resembled the 1980’s military/police raids by British Forces on homes in Northern Ireland. Those military/Police raids were sometimes used as cover to frame and or assassinate their political opponents. It should be noted U.S. domestic police military styled raids on American homes, sharply increased after local police expanded their training and working relationships with components of the U.S. military forming so called joint federal-state-local-task forces.Increasingly local police look like military forces.

IMMEDIATE CHANGES TO COLUMBIA POLICE NARCOTIC SEARCH WARRANT SERVICE PROTOCOL.

The Narcotics Sergeant and SWAT Commander are being removed from the decision making process on whether or not, and how, a narcotic search warrant will be served.
· Once probable cause has been established to obtain a search warrant for narcotics, the target location will be kept under surveillance. If the surveillance is interrupted or compromised for any reason, service of a search warrant may not be authorized, or the manner in which it is served may be changed.
· Warrant services for narcotic-related search warrants will be served within a reasonable time after the warrant is obtained, generally within 8 hours of receipt.
· Prior to serving the search warrant, the Bureau Commander (Captain) over the area will be briefed about the warrant, and he or she will review all available intelligence related to the request, and will decide how the warrant will be served. Assessing the potential danger to officers, innocent bystanders, and suspects, along with what law enforcement purpose will be served by serving the search warrant, will be weighed in their decision.
· All available intelligence will be used to attempt to mitigate unnecessary risk to any person. Issues such as children being present will be strong evidence that dynamic entry should not be considered except under the most extreme circumstances. SWAT Officers always have and will continue to be bound by the Columbia Police Department policy regarding any use of force.

Comment by Rwolf




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