Paramilitary Police in America: Where Does It All Lead?

It's 4:30 in the morning. You are sound asleep, as is the rest of your family. Someone is breaking through your front door. You have absolutely no idea what is happening, but you have enough wherewithal to reach for your loaded .45 sitting on the nightstand next to the bed.

You fly out of bed and move down the hall. You see what appears to be two individuals dressed in black, with ski masks over their faces. They also have weapons. They point theirs at you and start yelling. You wisely drop your weapon and hit the floor. You have no idea who these people are or what they want.

Turns out, it's just SWAT and they've come to serve a "no-knock" warrant on you and your home because an informant says you have illegal drugs. Your family is herded into the living room and handcuffed, with SWAT members training loaded weapons on all of you.

While you, your spouse, and your children are on the floor, other SWAT team members go through your home ransacking it trying to find the drugs that their informant swears you have. What the SWAT team fails to realize until they have turned up nothing is that they have accidentally chosen the wrong home. Your rights have been violated but it's all for a good cause, right?

They quickly remove the cuffs and without so much as a word of an apology except maybe noting (more to each other than to you), "Wrong house, things happen," they leave. They exit the front of the house where the door used to be, regroup, then move onto what is hopefully the correct home leaving you with their mess to clean up and emotions to sift through.

A must-read!

We all know this type of situation happens. What many of us are not aware of is just how often this scenario is repeated. Radley Balko's book "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America" highlights no less than 130 incidents of problems related to SWAT team searches, from the wrong home, to plants in question turning out to be tomatoes (instead of pot), to people being mildly injured to murdered. Research shows, "between 1989 and 2001, at least 780 cases of flawed paramilitary raids reached the appellate level, a dramatic increase over the 1980s, where such cases were rare, or earlier, when they were practically nonexistent." In other words, it's becoming a huge problem that people continue to disallow.

In many ways, the overkill (no pun intended) has become epidemic. Too often, police units involved in these types of searches get away with little more than a slap on the wrist, if that. Some locales have taken tough measures to ensure that people's rights are not overthrown by overzealous SWAT teams, but this is rare.

The reality is that if the law was strictly followed, these situations would likely not occur, at least not with the frequency in which they have been happening. SWAT units seem to be under the impression that blasting their way into someone's home in the middle of the night and treating occupants as though they are guilty (often physically and verbally abused in the process) is something that the Constitution allows.

The militarization of law enforcement has been occurring for some time and shows no signs of letting up. In fact, with Obama's DHS in the picture, the DHS presence is becoming more obvious as witnessed in the most recent Tea Party protests against the IRS. During these peaceful events, law enforcement helicopters were seen overhead, DHS ground police units, as well as ICE agents were present in a show of force. It is also interesting to note that there was not one single regular police officer to be seen. The situations were controlled by federal Homeland Security police, Obama's "national police force" at work.

Tea Party protestors at various IRS buildings were told to move away from the entrance. One individual related, "My lawyer told me as long as I didn’t block passage we were OK...I stayed at IRS entrance telling Homeland Security it is my right to be there."

The same person relates that at one point, a woman got out of her car and yelled "I am with ICE!" to which the person responded, "I am with Laguna Patriots!"

ICE is Immigration and Customs Enforcement and one can only wonder why ICE was there at all, but apparently, Homeland Security felt it best to use as much force as possible in attempts to intimidate those protesting peacefully. I could be wrong, but I don't recall DHS or ICE being at Occupy protests. I'll have to research that.

If it is not clear to you that there is a growing (and irrational) belligerent attitude whereby many in law enforcement see average citizens as enemy combatants, then you're not awake. I would suggest you take the red pill.

If the situation continues as it is, there is only one place that it can lead to and that is martial law. The terribly tragic part of this is that in some places, this has already been done without actually calling it martial law (Boston Marathon bombing, Katrina in New Orleans). Because of that, the government has learned that the populace affected by law enforcement's overbearing (and illegal) posture hasn't generated complaints. Of course the government has taken note.

One panel of experts stated, "Elite military units shouldn't be training civilian police, and civilian police shouldn't be using military tactics and weaponry on U.S. citizens." But this is exactly what has happened in much of America and it continues seemingly unabated.

Radley Balko has some strong recommendations at the end of his book that are well worth noting. If governments - local, state, and federal - would put these recommendations in place, America would be safer for average law-abiding citizens. Our rights would be upheld. Without these recommendations, we are destined to move closer and closer to a police state.

  • End the Pentagon giveaways - stop giving military equipment to police units throughout America
  • Set a Good Example - Branch Davidian compound, raid on family of Cuban refugee Elian Gonzales, DEA abuses, ATF abuses - all wrong by federal government
  • Recommit to Posse Comitatus - military belongs on the battle field, not the streets of America
  • Return SWAT policing to its Original Function
  • Rescind Asset Forfeiture Policies
  • Pass Legislation Protecting Right to Home Defense
  • Strict Liability (for SWAT abuses)
  • Tighten Search Warrant Standards
  • More Transparency
  • Civilian Review Boards
  • No Intimidation
  • More Accountability

If these common sense recommendations are not enacted - and soon - America will become a full-fledged police state. That, coupled with this administration's desire to take away weapons is all that is needed to lay waste to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

*This is part 3 in a three part series. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here.

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About Fred DeRuvo
Fred DeRuvo is the author of numerous articles and a growing number of Name Your Linkbooks related to conservative theology and politics. Fred received his Bachelor's degree from Philadelphia College of Bible and his Masters from Tyndale Theological Seminary. Fred received his Th.D from Northwestern Theological Seminary in Florida. Listen to Fred’s program and on MPR 105.3 FM in the Philippines. Fred began Study-Grow-Know Ministries several years ago where he fights the scourge of Leftist politics and policies that seem to be gaining a foothold in America. His blogs include Study, Grow, Know and Politically Correct Morass.