My Letter in the Sun-Times

I had a letter, “Tell Both Sides,” published in today’s Chicago Sun-Times. It was in response to an article yesterday that accompanied policeman as they raided a suspected drug-dealer’s home using a no-knock warrant.

Tell Both Sides

To balance your enthusiastic portrayal of no-knock police raids in “Police! Search Warrant!,” you should present some of the tragic outcomes that have taken place as a result of policemen forcing themselves into people’s homes.

Mistaken identities, lying informants and simple miscommunication have led to people dying and killing police officers. At the same time, giving police a green light to bash their way into people’s homes in response to nonviolent drug crimes represents a dangerous advancement in the militarization of law enforcement.

I’m happy enough with the letter, although I wished I’d emphasized a little more how disorienting–and dangerous–it is for people to wake to a group of armed men rushing into their house. Even if the intruders are shouting “Police,” it’s not surprising that residents take it to be a home invasion, and often respond with force. These no-knock raids are borne from a fear that people will flush their drugs, but that seems a bar too low to countenance military-style police groups breaking into people’s homes in pursuit of non-violent crimes.

Libertarian reporter Radley Balko has written a lot on the subject.

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