Pubdate: Thu, 28 Feb 2002
Source: Shepherd Express (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Alternative Publications Inc.
Author: Clifford A. Schaffer


I recently had the good fortune to attend a meeting of law 
enforcement officers where the chief of police of San Jose, 
California spoke. He said that he would not allow a SWAT team or 
other similar tactical unit ever to be used in surprise raids on any 
house, for any drug offense, under any circumstances.

The reasons he gave were simple enough-it's unnecessary and, as West 
Milwaukee and the Milwaukee County sheriff has adequately 
demonstrated ["A Shot in the Dark," Jan. 31], it puts both officers 
and innocent citizens at great risk.

He stated that it is always possible to avoid the situation just by 
watching the house and waiting until the (supposed) guilty parties 
leave and then simply surrounding them and arresting them on the 
street. Then, the search of the house-if required-can be done later. 
That, he said, is far safer than trying to burst into houses with 
flak jackets and machine guns.

Just to remind everyone, West Milwaukee isn't the only place where 
this has happened. All over the country, SWAT teams have gotten the 
wrong address and shot up the wrong house or gotten the right address 
and shot people who weren't involved. This wasn't the first time, and 
it certainly won't be the last. As always, the defense for the 
officer who pulled the trigger is that he was just following policy. 
Then, no one re-examinse the policy to see if there isn't a safer way 
to do it.

Clifford A. Schaffer, Agua Dulce, CA
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