Quel faux pas (a Dearth of Common Sense)

Admiral Chester Nimitz once said of our Marines on Iwo Jima, "Uncommon valor was a common virtue". Playing off of that quote, I'd like to say the following about people today:

"Common sense is an uncommon virtue"

Click the title link and refer to the article there throughout this post.

Minneapolis Minnesota police burst unannounced into a home the other day just after midnight. Hearing the commotion, the homeowner fired his shotgun three times at the unidentified intruders in his home. The police responded with a hail of twenty-two rounds. Defying all odds, the home owner was missed by every single shot. Luckily, his wife and six children were also unharmed in the uncontrolled hail of gunfire. The confrontation came to an end when the home owner's children yelled to him informing him that the intruders were the police.

What was the home owner's crime you ask? There was none. The SWAT team simply raided the wrong house... Quel faux pas! An innocent family's lives were endangered. Quel faux pas! Twenty two shots were fired with such poor control that not a one hit the intended target, again, quel faux pas! The home owner's door... smashed to splinters, quel faux pas! Where's the common sense in this?

We, the tax payers pay the police's salaries to protect us... We pay them to do a job. In this case, they failed... When the homeowner sues to recoup his damages guess what, we will pay again. So we paid for shoddy police work that led to more expense for us. Where's the common sense in this?

Surely this is an uncommon occurrence. That's what every police chief will tell you in response to such an event... Hold on, back that truck up! Did you note the words "in response to such an event"? This happens far more than you could ever believe. Fully thirty percent of all gun related fatalities reported every year are due to a police officer's bullet.

Every year those fatality rates are used as a basis for a hew and call to enact tougher gun control laws and nearly one third of them are a result of police shooting someone. Well the police don't run around randomly shooting innocent people right? Wrong. Police mistakenly shoot innocent people all the time. The difference is that if a police officer "accidentally" shoots someone he does not suffer the same legal jeopardy that a private individual does. A private individual that accidentally shoots someone is opened to all sorts of civil and criminal hazards. If civil damages do happen to be adjudicated for a victim of a police shooting, the officer doesn't even pay the damages... We do! That however is "if" the victim's family ever sees justice. More often than not, other officers simply close ranks and protect their brothers denying any chance of justice. Where's the common sense in this?

It seems to me that every argument against concealed carry and civilians intervening in armed confrontations will find someone claiming that a civilian does not have the proper training to react properly in such circumstances. Turning that logic on its head would indicate that police officers are specially trained, and therefore should be held to a higher standard of culpability should they be involved in a shooting than a "dumb uneducated civilian". Their training supposedly allows them to react in a calm, measured fashion in these dangerous situations. Why then twenty two shots in response to three shotgun blasts and FIFTY rounds into an unarmed man? That sure sounds like a bunch of yahoos shooting the place up to me, not trained professionals reacting in a calm, deliberate and measured manner.

The constitution tells us:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated..."
Is it reasonable for paramilitary police units to run amuck, randomly targeting innocent individuals; damaging their property, traumatizing their children, raping the sanctity of their homes; in some cases murdering people in cold blood; planting evidence to protect their asses? Is that reasonable?

Surely this is the exception and not the rule... Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.

Quoting from this incredible CATO institute document (read the whole thing, you'll be incredulous just like I was!):
A 2000 Denver Post investigation found that judges exercise almost no discretion at all when it comes to issuing no-knock warrants. The Post found that Denver judges had denied just five of 163 no-knock applications over a 12-month period (local defense attorneys were surprised to learn there were even five). “No-knock search warrants appear to be approved so routinely that some Denver judges have issued them even though police asked only for a regular warrant,” the Post wrote. “In fact, more than one of every 10 no-knock warrants issued over the past seven months was transformed from a regular warrant with just a judge’s signature.

Among the paper’s other findings:
  • In 8 of 10 raids, police assertions in affidavits that weapons would be present turned out to be wrong.
  • Just 7 of the 163 affidavits for no-knock warrants offered specific allegations that a suspect had actually been seen with a gun, evidence that’s essential to procuring a no-knock warrant. Even here, police found weapons in just two of the seven searches.
  • About one-third of the no-knock warrants were never reviewed by a district attorney before going to a judge, a violation of the police department’s stated policy. Many of the prosecutor reviews that did take place took place over the telephone.
  • Nearly all of the warrants were for narcotics and were granted solely on the tip of an anonymous informant and an officer’s assertion (minus any corroborating evidence) that weapons would be found at the scene or that the suspect was likely to dispose of evidence.
  • Of 146 no-knock raids conducted in Denver in 1999, only 49 produced charges of any kind. And of those, just 2 resulted in prison time for the targets of the raids.
Read those statistics again. Do they indicate a reasonable pattern of searches? Of 146 searches only 49 produced any charges. That means the homes of 97 completely innocent families were violently invaded by paramilitary units, innocent people were terrorized, flash bang grenades were tossed through windows, children held at gun point, innocent lives placed in life threatening situations for nothing! There weren't even guns in those homes 80% of the time. Where is the common sense in this?

If you read on in the CATO Institute document you will find a deliberate pattern of behavior on the part of the government of disassembling posse comitatus (the act that prohibits the use of military assets in civilian policing). Rather than using the military to enforce the law, they simply create a new army by dumping military hardware and training wholesale on police forces. So as our right to keep and bear arms has been steadily eroded by one law after another, the police forces have been arming up with tanks, armored personnel carriers, grenade launchers, machine guns, incendiary devices, body armor and even bayonets! While the federal government has been merrily closing down over 80% of our gun stores, they've also been dumping billions of dollars of military hardware on police departments, creating a second army that appears quite often to be doing nothing more than terrorizing law abiding citizens in the sanctity of their own homes. Our tools to cast off oppression are taken away and they meanwhile are given more permission and equipment to kick down the doors of innocent Americans. Where is the common sense in this?

Why does every podunk need a tank driving, machine gun toting SWAT department? Aren't SWAT departments intended to react to unusually dangerous situations? Why then does a small town that never had a murder or hostage situation need its own SWAT department? Why is a SWAT team needed to take down some dude with a few doobies? Last I heard pot makes people mellow and apt to eat, not violent and apt to volatility.

One of my employees is a retired FBI hostage negotiator. He's told me on many occasions how the SWAT units are "yahoos" and "overly gung-ho" or "just looking to shoot someone... anyone". This is coming from an insider that's been there.

Why would police ever need bayonets? Honestly, where's the common sense in that? ...bayonets? (almost as smart as prohibiting bayonets on the stupid assault weapon ban... there's been such a rash of drive by bayonettings after all!)

Now I don't want you to think that I am against the prosecution of crime. I firmly believe that criminals should be vigorously prosecuted, but I also believe that our founding fathers certainly did not have this in mind when they penned the fourth amendment to the constitution. I expect police to be sure that when they break down that door that:

1.) They have the right address (duh!)
2.) That the allegations leading to the search have been well corroborated.
3.) That such harsh measures are warranted and that all other tactics have been evaluated and rightfully deemed unusable.
4.) That officer's practice measured, restrained and appropriate responses to threats.
5.) That the consequences of incompetence and wrong-doing on the part of officers is borne by the officer guilty of such malfeasance. If something goes wrong, heads should roll!
6.) That citizens be treated in a humane and dignified manner while in police custody.
7.) That you CLEARLY identify yourself to prevent "accidental" shootings when an alarmed homeowner rightfully attempts to defend his home against an invasion.
8.) That no innocent people die! (These are who you're paid to PROTECT and SERVE! Look those words up in the dictionary if you're confused.)

My belief that criminals should be punished, is not suspended when those criminals happen to wear a badge. In fact that badge indicates to me that I should be even less tolerant of criminal behavior. A badge is not a get out of jail free card. It is a symbol of authority and with authority comes great responsibility. It is the symbol of those who are the servants of the law, not an elite class that is above the law. Justice is after all supposed to be blind not blinded by the glint of a badge. Police should be police and not a second army! That my friends is common sense. I know it rings oddly in your unaccustomed ears.

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