CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Number of No-Knock Searches Skyrockets

St. Paul Pioneer PressA Minneapolis man escaped serious injury after he grabbed his hunting shotgun Sunday and reportedly fired through his bedroom door at a swarm of heavily armed strangers who burst through the back door of his home while he, his wife and his six kids - ages 3 to 15 - were sleeping, says the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Two cops - part of a SWAT-style team that raided the wrong home - returned fire but were struck by shotgun blasts. Police tried to couch the mistake as a rare or isolated incident, one in which officers were fed "bum" information from a confidential informant.

"Police justify these 'no-knock' tactics as to make it safer for everyone,'' says Radley Balko, author of "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America." "I think that's absurd,'' said Balko. "Whenever you enter someone's home, you are creating confrontation as well as the potential for violence.'' He believes such paramilitary tactics should be reserved for cases where hostages need to be rescued or violent fugitives apprehended. A study by Eastern Kentucky University criminologist Peter Kraska estimates "no-knock'' warrants soared from 3,000 in 1981 to more than 50,000 last year, the overwhelming majority triggered by anti-drug- trafficking crackdowns. Balko, a senior editor with Reason magazine, says that at least 40 people have died after such botched raids "since SWAT teams began proliferating in the late 1980s."

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