“Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank has issued an apology after narcotics detectives raided the wrong home and pointed a gun at its 76-year-old female resident,” sfgate.com reports. “Burbank said the woman was not injured when the search warrant was executed late Wednesday night, but one officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation. ‘She’s certainly had the event of a lifetime—” Pause. Is that supposed to be a joke? Play. “—‘This was a mistake. It should not have happened.'” As Rafiki said to Simba, it is time. Time to ban ‘no-knock’ raids. I know it’s not my ass on the line, but if the search is highly dangerous, suck it up. Oh wait; it could be my ass on the line. Even if my name isn’t on the warrant.

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46 Responses to Ban No-Knock Raids

  1. I don’t disagree with the concept of no-knocks. However, the frequency and execution has shown to be a historical problem.

    Make no-knocks rare by requiring strict justification to a judge, and not just “another tool in the tool box”.

    Also, require personal liability in the cases of screw ups. If it’s an officers paycheck, employment, or behind-bars status in on the line intel collection will be done more effectively, intel confirmation won’t just be checking the box, and the guy at the front of the stack won’t kick down the door despite it not being the number they were breifed.

    I don’t believe that taking away the tool of no-knock would be prudent, but I also don’t agree with its frequency or the casualness of it’s employment.

    • I agree, but rather, allow people to sue for a no-knock that goes bad. Here in Easton, CT a judge is allowing a civil law suite to go against the town and the officer. A few million lost in in court will allow the town and by extension the police to rethink tactics and or procedure.

      In this particular case, an innocent person visiting family was shot while he was asleep and the claim he had a gun was found to be false.

      It is simple, if they choose to use a no-knock and eff up, then the person they intruded upon gets to sue for damages.

      What kills me is when you read how after screwing up, the second attempt the double dare make sure its the right house as to not screw up twice in a row – so, begs the question, why can’t you do that the first time?

      • Since I like to consider myself an American, I am against no knocks for ANY reason. All of your justifications and oversights have been proven many times over to be false. And, why should the citizens of the community be on the hook for millions of their tax dollars to pay judgments against their rouge police force? How in the world did the police EVER do their job before the creation of these disgusting SWAT teams? Please explain how the police departments went after violent criminals armed with full auto weapons during the early part of the 20th century without SWAT teams and military tactics.

    • You know, the whole point of getting a warrant is that the judge is considered a higher and better authority than the officers. To get a warrant is to demonstrate and document that there is more reason to go in than because we felt like it or because we just really really thought we would find something good inside.

      My understanding is that we’re already on the hook for providing false or misleading information when requesting a judge to sign a warrant. I am not aware of any mechanism for a judge to be held accountable for signing a warrant that really should not have been signed.

      Details on how surveillance for no-knock or in fact any kind of high risk warrant service is done is above my pay grade, so I really can’t provide any useful criticism of that.

      • A judge will be a better authority regarding what the evidence will support, but they’re not likely to be along on the raid and double-checking the address of the door that’s about to be kicked in.

        IMO, personal liability for the commanding officer on the scene is the way to go- as in “he will be arrested and charged with breaking & entering at a minimum, just as any private citizen who did this would be”.

        Suing the department might sound good, but juries tend to side with cops. Even when the cops screw up.

    • It’s why I also fully support Indiana’s law that grants immunity from prosecution to a citizen using deadly force against a police officer who is illegally entering their home.

    • All you said is good though I would take drug searches off the list of reasons you can do no knocks. Violent criminals with dangerous intent is the only thing that justifies no knocks.

  2. No-knock raids are primarily for one reason: to try to prevent drug dealers and possessors from destroying their product.

    I’d rather some dealers and possessors get away with flushing or otherwise eliminating their **** than have to read about dozens of these ****-ups a year. Innocent people have died because of this **** and the police just don’t care.

    • I don’t agree that the police just don’t care. Each copis just as different as each gun owner. I do agree that I would rather see a few cases lost for lack of evidence than a no knock warrent gone wrong and the innocent suffer.

      If a no knock warrent is to be used in an extreme case it should be under the direct supervision of somebody at command level in the department involved.

  3. I have to agree with TCBA.
    A no knock could be used in rare circumstances. Rare, should I repeat that rare….
    It means you are trying to find a really bad dude, you have had the address staked out for weeks, you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, whom ever or what ever it is you are after is there. Then and only then you get to get a no knock.
    Seriously, one of these days a bunch of the SWAT guys are going to run into the wrong house with a person or persons who are armed, and react. Not because they are criminals, but because coming out of a deep sleep at oh dark 30 in a matter of seconds to people running up your stairs like a heard of elephants.. You don’t stop to think. You act..
    And one of these days there will be a large funeral per-session for some decent cops because they ran up against a law abiding citizen who happened to be a better shot than they expected. I don’t mean that to sound ominous but seriously the departments need to think really long and hard about this stuff…

    • Many cops don’t live in the same place they work, and there is no database for us to check and make sure it’s not one of us living at any particular address. It would not make it any better or worse morally speaking if a mistaken address led to a friendly fire incident by one of our own compared to a non uniformed person, but that’s maybe what it would take before anyone high enough up the chain really took notice.

      This and SWATing are two of my biggest fears.

      And spiders.

  4. A similar incident happened not 2-3 days ago in Delaware.

    The man they were looking for hadn’t even lived at the address for a number of years. For what he was wanted for I fully respect the “urgency” to find him, but at the same time it’ll cost PD’s less embarassment (and tax payers money) if some undeniable proof was needed before being able to just kick a door in.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=8835906

  5. It’s not the use of no-knock warrants that bothers me, it’s the consistent misuse. 95% of the time, these raids — that’s really what they are — do what they’re supposed to do. But the other times, they result in the worst possible tragedies. If the job of the police is really to protect and to serve, it’s about time they did both.

  6. I agree that no-knock raids (search warrants) have to stop. A little old fashioned police work makes them unnecessary.

  7. kudos to the officer for standing up and answering questions and owning up to things.

    just curious what things would look like if no knock raids were banned? how would anything be different? even if they knock, they’re still coming through the door immediately afterwards, it’s not like they’re going to stand there and have a conversation through the door and just leave once someone says “uuuuhhh.. you’ve got the wrong house…”

    I don’t think no knock raids are that big of a deal, just do it right…. judges need to stop rubber stamping every warrant they see….

    • I see two issues with this kind of raid (and yes that’s what it is.) First, if you charge into someone’s home, catch them when they are least mentally equipped to deal with the situation, and give them no warning, you are absolutely going to get the drop on them. You’re also guaranteeing that you are going to trigger the fight or flight impulse. Sorry, if I don’t know you’re police and you come charging into my home, I’m going to assume I’m the victim of a home invasion and react accordingly. For the guys in class 3 body armor, NODs, and armed to the teeth, that may not be much of an issue. But for me it’s a real problem because I’m probably going to get shot for doing something that’s perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. For me, that’s going to happen because the team broke into the wrong home. We know this happens. People die because of these mistakes. Sorry, this is a tool that gets used far too often and with far too little oversight. It comes very close to setting up the person inside to get shot.
      Second, we are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. This type of action smacks of the shoe being on the other foot. Over and over again we see where either the wrong address or an address where the suspect hasn’t had any recent contact is hit. This is simply poor preparation and execution on the part of law enforcement. I’m sorry, but the police have not proven to my satisfaction that they can be trusted with this power and the judicial system has not held law enforcement to a high enough standard for issuance.
      I want law enforcement to get the bad guys. I do not want them to do so at the expense of a few innocents. Show me that this power can be justified and used responsibly and I’ll have no issues with it. But it aint happening right now.

  8. Even in Canada, this is what cops can look forward to, whilst executing no-knocks:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil_Parasiris

    Note that the courts in Canada upheld the right of civilians to do this.

    If I ran a police union, I would refuse no-knocks, as a matter officer safety. And police commissioners, or sheriffs should, as well, on the basis of liability.

    • There have sadly been several cases of people armed in theor own homes who were killed by LEOs during bad no knock raids. Nobknocks should be for extreme cases only and very rare.

  9. Is there a legitimate source for stats on the percent of no-knock “miscues”? It is very scary that a apology and chuckle are enough to get a pass. I can’t imagine this going well at my house. We have technology and dogs that will provide early warning….

    The DE and SLC cases are examples that could have ended badly but thankfully didn’t. Why isn’t either a case of criminal trespassing or B/E? If the officers/agents responsible aren’t charged as such they should be terminated at least. As the chief stated in SLC it is unacceptable.

    Finally, what ever happened to good old fashion police work?

    • what ever happened to good old fashion police work?

      The same thing that happened to good old fashioned police. You can’t have one without the other, and now we have too little of both.

  10. Absolutely no to “No Knocks”. I’d rather a hundred druggies flushed their dope than one wrong house was invaded and folks got injured. The consequences of these sanctioned home invasions are so horrible that there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that they be stopped. What is so freaking hard about good detective work to absolutely verify the address? How about they actually see the bad guy enter and leave the house, you know, like he lives there.

    Any idiots that accept a 3 year old address as “good enough” to break into a home during the wee hours of the night, deserve what they get. These guys are “too anxious” to do this crap. Break the dull routine? Get a little adrenalin flowing? Who knows, but it should stop.

  11. I had a paper route when I was a kid. I’d get a note with my bundle telling me to start delivering to a certain address. First thing i’d do is call the route manager to double check the address. Is that so freakin hard?! I’d think more or less the same idea would apply.

  12. No knocks are also meant to catch criminals by surprise before they can reach for their weapons. They are meant to avoid shoot-outs as much as to keep evidence from being flushed. These departments and agencies need to get together and see what went wrong. Did they have the right address and enter the wrong house? Did they get a bad address? Did their informant give bad information, and was it not verified?

  13. Speaking from the standpoint of both a retired LEO and now an attorney, strictly in my opinion, these kind of raids need to be limited, and not just “rubber-stamped” by judges. Just like the over-use of SWAT, and the over-militarization of police, these are an over-reaction to what are uncommon problems. Yes, being an LEO is dangerous. Go get another job. The number of stories of raids on the wrong house, with poor/little/old intel., are inexcusable. I can look up all sorts of real-estate records on my computer. Why can’t they ? I can tell you that a no-knock raid on my home, given that I am not involved in any criminal enterprise, would be treated as a home invasion, and responded to accordingly. Hope their armor stops .308.

    • I agree.

      I am not completely against no-knock raids, since our boys in blue should get the element of surprise on high risk raids. I do have a distaste for LEOs, but I also understand what they do and sometimes understand their train of thought.

      What’s that saying? “Measure twice, cut one.” All these fudd police officers getting amped up to kick down an alleged bad guy’s door should at least double check their paperwork and use GOOGLE MAPS.

      I also agree that there maybe too much rubber stamping going on, but that is more of a feeling of mine rather than one I can truly support with facts on my end.

  14. I saw a cartoon once of two buzzards sitting in a dead tree. The caption read “patience my _ss, I’m going to kill something.”. What are all these boys going to do with all their tacticool toys and how they going to get that adrenaline rush if they don’t take them out and play with them? Seriously, when the people fear the law enforcers more than the law breakers something has to change.

  15. “No Knocks” are a disgusting and dangerous byproduct of a larger issue – our asinine war on drugs. The futility of this war has, in way too many people’s eyes, given the excuse needed to warrant something as patently wrong and all too often tragic as no-knock raids.

    The trauma and murder resulting from many of these no-knocks is more than enough reason to step back and reevaluate just what the hell we think we’re accomplishing in our war on drugs.

    • Good to hear this from another right-thinking Arizonan.

      If you’re ever in Prescott we should have a coffee.

      These no-knocks are not being served on murderers or rapists.

      They are being served to enforce BS malum prohibitum laws that shouldn’t be any worse than a parking ticket if even that.

      Randy Weaver’s family was killed because the gubmint thought he might have used a hacksaw on a piece of metal. Not because he was a murderer, a kidnapper, or a rapist. Not because he used lies and trickery to steal someone’s life’s savings.
      No. He allegedly cut a metal tube. That’s it, that’s all.

      • Well, also because he refused to become a snitch (or maybe a mole), when they tried to blackmail him into it using the tube-cutting as leverage.

  16. Remember that swat team in Arizona that killed the ex-marine because he, in the scare of it all, decided to grab his AR-15 to defend his home and family?

    No-knocks kill innocent people, because swat teams are trigger happy out of fear, and people not expecting a raid WILL arm themselves out of fear.

    • I thought the most interesting part of that deal was that the Marine chose not to engage – and got shot as a result. Too bad the guys on the entry team didn’t have better trigger control.

  17. Police are easily the rudest, most cold blooded, cruelest savages in society today. Raids on the “correct” address often include gunning down a dog/dogs when in cages, or completely out of the way as in a kennel or the back yard. They act this way because they’re the devil’s own. Too bad they can’t all be crucified along the Appian Way—we’d be better off! Seems like any time they see any “civilian” for the first time, they think “this person is a criminal, I have to incriminate this person so my next bowel movement attempt will succeed!”

  18. No knock raids are mainly about slave training. One of the sheriffs near me never or almost never authorizes them. Why? Because they’re unnecessary. You surveil, wait until they’re not at home, then grab them and/or search the property when you’re pretty sure no one is home.

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