Pubdate: Wed, 30 Sep 2015
Source: News Journal, The (Wilmington, DE)
Copyright: 2015 The News Journal
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


Pre-dawn police raids on suspected drug houses make for dramatic 
television. Too often in real life, however, these SWAT-like raids 
turn out to be mistakes, or, to put it more diplomatically, not 
exactly what the police had in mind.

The News Journal published a disturbing article about a lawsuit this 
week that raises questions about the police strategy when it comes to 
fighting the war on drugs. Delawareans should look at closely at the 
articles implications.

The article reports on a lawsuit filed by Rehoboth Beach couple 
against the Delaware State Police over their treatment during a drug 
raid on a Claymont house they were staying in. The wife is a 
quadriplegic. Her husband is a disabled veteran. They were not the 
subjects of the police raid, but they claim they were terrorized and 
mishandled by the police raiders.

We cannot comment on the federal lawsuit. Nor can we testify to the 
merits of the case. That is up to the justice system. However, we can 
note that the raid bears striking resemblance to other police actions 
in the war against drugs in Delaware and in other parts of the 
country. Some of these raids caused far more trouble than they 
solved. In a number of cases, police raiders banged down doors, 
swooped unannounced into homes and roughed up the occupants. Some 
homeowners, thinking the intruders were armed robbers, fought back. 
Homeowners and police have been killed in the exchange of gunfire. 
People have been killed resisting what they thought were intruders. 
Others have been jailed for fighting back.

Here's the worst part. Far too often, the drug raid yielded little or 
nothing in illegal drugs or related charges. In the raid outlined in 
the Delaware lawsuit, an adult relative of the couple was charged 
with minor offensives.

Police intelligence often is wrong. Wilmington police staged a raid 
on a Middletown home in 2012. They barged in before 6 a.m., trained 
weapons on the family living there and searched the house for drugs. 
But it was the wrong house. Elsewhere, misdirected police raids ended 
in violence, with innocent homeowners shooting at police or police 
shooting innocent homeowners they thought threatened them.

These raids are part of the nation's war on drugs. According to the 
American Civil Liberties Union, 62 percent of police raids on homes 
in 2014 were related to illegal drugs. How much good did they do?

Obviously, some of these raids are needed. We hope they are 
well-planned and based on solid evidence. Too may of them are not. 
They needlessly put civilians and police officers at risk. Police 
officers have no idea of who or what will greet them when they go 
through that home's doorway.

The question is: Why does law enforcement persist in these raids? Why 
are police putting people at risk for relatively small stakes - that 
is, when they get the right house or apartment? And finally, why are 
the American people so tolerant of a practice that tramples on their rights?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom