All too frequently innocent people are targeted, sometimes the wrong home, sometimes a bad tip, whatever the cause it’s unacceptable. We need to treat drugs like we do alcohol. The war against drugs, like prohibition, has created a culture of professional criminals!
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.
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.