Botched Paramilitary Police Raids:
An Epidemic of “Isolated Incidents”
“If a widespread pattern of [knock-and-announce] violations were shown . . . there would be reason for grave concern.”
—Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Hudson v. Michigan, June 15, 2006.
An interactive map of botched SWAT and paramilitary police raids, released in conjunction with the Cato policy paper “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids,” by Radley Balko.
The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of “no-knock” or “quick-knock” raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt — it’s difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night.
But even more disturbing are the number of times such “wrong door” raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map below aims to refute that notion.
Click on each marker on the map for a description of the incident and sources. Markers are precise in cases where the address of an incident was reported. Where media reports indicate only a town or neighborhood, markers are located at the closest post office, city hall, or landmark. Incident descriptions and outcomes are kept as current as possible.
Other map features:
–Using the “plus” and “minus” buttons in the map’s upper left-hand corner, users can zoom in on the map to street-level, as well as switch between street map and satellite views. In some large metropolitan areas, there are so many incidents in such close proximity that they tend to overlap unless viewed on a small scale (try zooming in on New York City, for example).
–Users may isolate the incidents by type by clicking on the colored markers in the key (see only “death of an innocent” markers, for example).
–The search function just below the map produces printable descriptions of the raids plotted on the map, and is sortable by state, year, and type of incident.
Copy and paste the following HTML to embed the Raidmap on your site:
<iframe width="640" height="480" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/?q=http:%2F%2Fwww.cato.org%2Fraidmap%2Fpublic%2Fpublicraidmap.kml&ie=UTF8&ll=38.203655,-97.470703&spn=32.965141,56.25&z=4&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small><a href="http://www.cato.org/raidmap" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">View Original Map and Database</a></small>
|Death of an innocent.||Death or injury of a police officer.||Death of a nonviolent offender.|
|Raid on an innocent suspect.||Other examples of paramilitary police excess.||Unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people.|
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