Sometimes ten seconds is all the warning you get.
Sometimes you don’t get a warning before all hell breaks loose.
Imagine it, if you will: It’s the middle of the night. Your neighborhood is in darkness. Your household is asleep. Suddenly, you’re awakened by a loud noise.
Barely ten seconds later, someone or an army of someones has crashed through your front door.
The intruders are in your home.
Your heart begins racing. Your stomach is tied in knots. The adrenaline is pumping through you.
You’re not just afraid. You’re terrified.
Desperate to protect yourself and your loved ones from whatever threat has invaded your home, you scramble to lay hold of something—anything—that you might use in self-defense. It might be a flashlight, a baseball bat, or that licensed and registered gun you thought you’d never need.
You brace for the confrontation.
Shadowy figures appear at the doorway, screaming orders, threatening violence, launching flash bang grenades.
You stand frozen, your hands gripping whatever means of self-defense you could find.
Just that simple act—of standing frozen in fear and self-defense—is enough to spell your doom.
The assailants open fire, sending a hail of bullets in your direction.
In your final moments, you get a good look at your assassins: it’s the police.
Brace yourself, because this hair-raising, heart-pounding, jarring account of a SWAT team raid is what passes for court-sanctioned policing in America today, and it could happen to any one of us or our loved ones.
Nationwide, SWAT teams routinely invade homes, break down doors, kill family pets (they always shoot the dogs first), damage furnishings, terrorize families, and wound or kill those unlucky enough to be present during a raid.
No longer reserved exclusively for deadly situations, SWAT teams are now increasingly being deployed for relatively routine police matters such as serving a search warrant, with some SWAT teams being sent out as much as five times a day.
SWAT teams have been employed to address an astonishingly trivial array of so-called criminal activity or mere community nuisances: angry dogs, domestic disputes, improper paperwork filed by an orchid farmer, and misdemeanor marijuana possession, to give a brief sampling.
Police have also raided homes on the basis of mistaking the presence or scent of legal substances for drugs. Incredibly, these substances have included tomatoes, sunflowers, fish, elderberry bushes, kenaf plants, hibiscus, and ragweed. In some instances, SWAT teams are even employed, in full armament, to perform routine patrols.
These raids, which might be more aptly referred to as “knock-and-shoot” policing, have become a thinly veiled, court-sanctioned means of giving heavily armed police the green light to crash through doors in the middle of the night.
No-knock raids, a subset of the violent, terror-inducing raids carried out by police SWAT teams on unsuspecting households, differ in one significant respect: they are carried out without police even having to announce themselves.
Warning or not, to the unsuspecting homeowner woken from sleep by the sounds of a violent entry, there is no way of distinguishing between a home invasion by criminals as opposed to a police mob. In many instances, there is little real difference.
According to an in-depth investigative report by The Washington Post, “police carry out tens of thousands of no-knock raids every year nationwide.”
While the Fourth Amendment requires that police obtain a warrant based on probable cause before they can enter one’s home, search and seize one’s property, or violate one’s privacy, SWAT teams are granted “no-knock” warrants at high rates such that the warrants themselves are rendered practically meaningless.