In a comment to my post about the Lima shooting, someone named David writes:
Let’s see. You’re in a situation where you are a potential target. Two pit bulls charge you. You put your weapon down, reach in your pocket, pull out the pepper spray and hope it stops the dogs. If that doesn’t work, you pull out your handy taser, ask the dogs to sit while you tase them. Then you go back, pick up your gun, and proceed with the raid. Works for me.
I detect sarcasm. Fair enough. I’ve never had SWAT training. Maybe maneuvering through a house with both lethal and non-lethal weaponry at ready is harder than I think it is. But doesn’t that mean that every SWAT-style raid is a death warrant for any large excitable dogs on the premises? Is that really what we want?
And isn’t there some risk in firing a gun in an unfamilar building filled with people in unknown locations? Most of the time you’ll just have a dead dog, but how many times can you open fire in an inhabited house before an overpenetration or a ricochet or a miss does something awful? Not to mention the risk of misidentifying your target, as apparently happened to Tarika Wilson in Lima.
I’ve been wondering why my posts about the Lima raid have been getting more pushback in the comments than usual. The events of the raid are indefensible unless you’re willing to argue that it’s okay for the cops to literally shoot a baby.
I realize now that I was making a mistake. It’s the kind of mistake I see all the time in engineering and software development: I was telling the expert how to solve the problem when I should just be describing the problem and letting the expert figure out the solution.
So here’s the problem as I see it: Police are doing dynamic entries into people’s houses to make arrests and gather evidence. They do this thousands of times a year, and things keep going wrong. Totally innocent people will get killed by accident in botched raids. And even some of the guilty people didn’t do anything that earns them a bullet.
Given how often police hit the wrong location or find no evidence of a crime, even when no one gets shot, they’re still scaring the crap out of people. And shooting their dogs. It’s a real horrorshow, and I want it to stop.
Defenders of these raids will say that using less lethal methods will be dangerous, or that a more careful approach will cause evidence to be lost. I don’t care. That’s not my problem. If cops can’t do their job without terrorizing the citizens, then they’re trying to do the wrong job.