Should police SWAT protocol be revised?

Relevant article here. In summary, Pima County SWAT arrived early in the morning to execute a search warrant, and were met by a man with an assault rifle. SWAT shot him a bunch of times, killing him. In retrospect, it looks like the search warrant may have been issued in error, and in the six months since the raid no arrests have been made as a result of the investigation (the dead guy was accused of being part of a drug trafficking operation). The man’s wife and small child were present when he was killed, and by most accounts it seems like he was an upstanding citizen, an honorably discharged marine with a regular job.

One issue is that the search warrant was obtained legally, but didn’t find the evidence they were looking for. It’s very easy to imagine a scenario in which the guy thought he was defending his family from armed criminals, and not the police.

An even bigger issue in my mind is the fact that police deliberately performed the operation at a time they knew the family would be home, in the early morning. The timing of the operation seems intended to maximize the potential for tragedy.

What do you guys think?

“What reasonable person comes to the front door and points a rifle at people?” --Rick Kastigar, Chief of Investigations for the Sheriff’s Department

I don’t know whether this person was guilty of any crime. But it seems reasonable to come to the door and point a rifle at several armed men who are attempted to enter your home if you don’t know they’re cops. I do think law enforcement needs to take care in how they conduct swat raids. How did they even get a warrant?

I don’t think its really relevant whether he’s guilty or innocent. The cops should try and avoid shooting people irregardless of whether they’re drug dealers. And its the nature of search warrants that sometimes they’re going to search the homes of innocent people, so even if you think its OK if they shoot drug dealers, they should probably presume the person whose home they’re raiding is innocent.

The older kid was at school. The younger kid was four, and so it seems possible he and his mom spent most of their time at home, or at least weren’t out of the house on any predictable schedule. I’m not sure its that obvious that the raid could’ve been scheduled at a better time as far as having the wife and kids out of the house.

They apparently were yelling “police” in Spanish and English, and SWAT teams are usually dressed pretty distinctively from your average home invader.

And what reasonable person goes to someone else’s front door, heavily armed, and ready to shoot anyone who answers the door?

Frankly, I think the best thing that could happen would be for a SWAT team to be wiped out by a law-abiding citizen. I’d be glad to be proven wrong, but I don’t think anything less than the death of police due to their own horrible strategy is going to change the status quo.

Bolding mine. Forgive me, dear poster but I can only assume an intelligent person like yourself intended to say irrespective. Completely understandable error. :smiley: Grammar police out!!

Why conduct the raid when the object of your investigation is home, especially if he has a predictable work schedule? The only person with any reason to violently resist a police search was HOME when they executed the search warrant. It was not an arrest warrant, so why would they want him there while they searched? It seems the timing was very poorly decided.

I’d imagine that they do it when the suspect is home so that they can arrest them on the spot if there’s something incriminating, rather then give him a chance to flee if he find out the cops are raiding his home while he’s elsewhere.

Police usually carry out raids in the early morning because that’s supposed to be the best time to catch someone off guard.


It’s why you sue large corporations when they behave badly. Because nothing short of kicking them where it hurts (in this case the pocket book), will accomplish anything.

As long as innocent people are the ones getting killed, having their families torn asunder, the police won’t give a god damn shit.

The chief of police is already engaging the “blame the victim” button (as per the quote above).

When police officers start to die because of their asinine antics, THAT’s when they’ll start to care and when changes will start to be made.

I kinda wonder what the Laval Police Service’s policy is now, seeing as one of their own got killed during a “dynamic entry” and the shooter was acquitted.

Even if rushing the enemy’s base sometimes results in police death, the police will likely do a cost/benefit analysis of that tactic and realize that even though dynamic entry sometimes results in a police officer’s death, it prevents more police officer’s deaths than it causes so it’s worth using (for them, from a purely selfish perspective).

Th police are are likely thinking of cases where someone in a house about to be searched/someone about to be arrested might not look like a threat but where he actually is. In those cases, you do want to get the drop on him and rush him without warning. There must be more of those people than there are innocent people who will have the tools, time, inclination and presence of mind to grab a gun and shoot.

So we don’t need a trial system to determine who the “enemy” is before killing him? If not, why not just have inquisitorial-style justice rather than trial by peers?

That isn’t a moot question: it’s what this whole thread is about.

Chill, he’s using a phrase from real-time strategy games.

With a family member who is a NY City police detective and several buddies who are cops I’ve heard this discussed by police officers.

How do you arrest someone who is known to be violent and usually armed? That’s the police officer’s problem. How do they accomplish that?

I think the last message using military language (“rushing the enemy’s base”) illuminates one of the problems with these tactics. That’s exactly why innocent people get killed. The adrenaline is flowing and SWAT team members are ready to react at any sign of resistance. So it is a dangerous tactic. For everyone.

Ironically police officers seem to have varied opinions about it too.

One friend of mine has been a patrol officer for over 25 years. He was very upset over an incident a few years ago.

Police in an urban area nearby were attempting to arrest a violent offender. He had murdered a man during an armed robbery. A surveillance video was recovered that showed the robbery taking place. Though the victim is shown cooperating the video showed the assailant, for no discernible reason, placed his gun on the victim’s chest and pulled the trigger. Obviously this was someone the police wanted very badly to get off the street.

The police executed a search warrant at the assailant’s apartment at first light. Officers used a battering ram to knock down the apartment door. As it turned out, the assailant was alerted and had a loaded shotgun ready. He fired two blasts at the first officers through the door, killing two of them. Other officers then returned fire killing the assailant.

My buddy who has been a police officer for 25+ years said this was nuts. He said as soon as the door opens the assailant only has to fire at the opening in order to be virtually guaranteed to hit some officers. He said in his opinion the commander at the scene threw the two officers lives away.

He said if had been him at the scene he would’ve refused to take part in it.

Why don’t they just wait until a suspect leaves the house, so they can’t destroy evidence and they’re less likely to have access to a weapon?

The problem the cops face is suspects like this are almost always armed. If they try and arrest them on the street they risk getting into a public gun battle.

Like one cop said, “And if they use tear gas to try and flush them out it usually sets fire to the building.”

Another problem police face is money. A lot of these departments, sad to say, do not have the funds to mount an extensive surveillance that would be needed to try and catch the suspect unaware.

The best alternative is to evacuate the block and contact the suspect. Tell them they are surrounded and must surrender. Then have a negotiating team in place.

But that’s very expensive.

So, if police aren’t supposed to be zerg noobs, what should they do?

In the particular case you describe, how could police officers have gone about it better, without the benefit of hindsight, which they did not have access to? I am not denying they could have but would like to know.

While he was known to own weapons, there wasn’t really any reason given in the article to think the suspect in the OP’s case was violent. Certainly he wasn’t “known to be violent”, he wasn’t wanted for murder charges, didn’t have any history of criminal charges, or even arrests, related to violent actions. I imagine the reason for rushing the front door rather then simply knocking was that the latter strategy might give the suspect time to destroy evidence. Which is still a valid concern, specifically in drug cases where the evidence can be flushed relatively quickly.

They could have just pulled hm off of his line at work and ended it right there. That doesn’t justify paying for all of the fancy SWAT training, gear, or guns though.