IRS as Police Agency

I’m sure this sort of thing isn’t as unusual as it feels, but there’s something creepy and inappropriate about it:

Cars full of Internal Revenue Service agents descended on The Beach House Bar & Grill Friday morning but it is unclear what they were seeking.
A witness said the 9:18 a.m. arrival was dramatic, “like something out of TV or the movies, not what you expect on sleepy Park Avenue.
“Five black cars came flying up from one direction, five from the other and then like 30 officers poured out,” the witness said. He said they were wearing bullet-proof vests and were armed.

Does every government agency get its own black-sunglasses brigade? It seems as if the bullet-proof vests and guns ought to be limited to policing agencies, requiring the broader bureaucracy to receive warrants and request policing assistance when the scope of their duties requires it.

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Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“Does every government agency get its own black-sunglasses brigade?”
Most agencies have to go running to Uncle Sam first, obtain a warrant, and get the U.S. Marshalls to accompany them. The various “compliance officers” and “inspectors” don’t get their own guns or badges, but some of them have told me that they go out and buy their own scary-looking ID badges because people are more willing to let them inside. It’s not impersonating an officer, after all, they are who the ID says they are. They know every trick in the book to convince you to let them through your door, but remember, you don’t have to let them in without a warrant. Make them go to the Administrative Law Judge first and use that time to do a once-over of the premises yourself.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

I have been approached by someone (a woman) from the Social Security Administration, wearing a gun, she made a big display of the “heater”. She also made a fool of herself and ackknowledged the SSA had never read my letters.
It does seem that more agencies that one would suspect have a “SWAT” team. They even have intramural competitions.
One also wonders why there are so many police SWAT teams, it would seem that one per county would do it. It probably has to do with federal funding and additional pay for SWAT officers.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

The IRS has administrative officers who aeren’t armed and CID agents who are.
Any Federal agency that employs Criminal Investigators who are in the 1811 category do have a police function.
1811 is the general designator for Criminal Investigators,while their agency might refer to them as Special Agents,all 1811’s have the same authority in terms of being armed and having arrest powers-it doesn’t matter if they work for ICE,FBI,IRS,Secret Service,ATF,US Marshalsetc.Some unlikely agencies have 1811’s-Labor,HUD,HHS,Energy,and so on.
There are also Federal law enforcement officers who are not 1811’s but have the same authority-i.e Border Patrolmen-I think my job designator was 1596 in the Patrol(it was 36 years ago so don’t quote me)-point being,do some research before hitting the keyboard.
BTW the IRS agents who I worked with from time to time were enagged in seizing assets from drug traffickers-not a bad thing if you ask me.

David P
David P
9 years ago

Remember it was a SWAT team from the Fish and Wildlife Service that raided Gibson Guitars in August. Even if you can justify empowering so many agencies with police powers, there seems to be no reason why they have to resort to such dramatic displays of force, especially when investigating non-violent, hyper-technical violations of the ever growing multitude of federal regulations.

mangeek
mangeek
9 years ago

“It seems as if the bullet-proof vests and guns ought to be limited to policing agencies”
I have a friend who serves high-risk warrants for the federal government. He says his job is 80% going to the gym, surfing, and napping in his car, 15% in the office doing paperwork, and 5% travel and fieldwork.
They ‘practice’ SWAT-type runs on pedophiles and residential copyright infringers. As much as we all hate pedophiles, the idea that we’re sending two dozen fully-armed SWAT officers to nab unarmed creeps in their pajamas is disturbing to me.
Why is it like this? Because the money for ‘Special Weapons and Tactics’ has been beefed-up due to ‘terrorism’ while actual violent crimes have dropped dramatically since the 1990s. When all you have is SWAT teams, even shoplifters look like a ‘high-risk targets’.

Patrick
Patrick
9 years ago

But at the same time, if you send one or two uniformed officers to a place that seems like a stoner or two in their pajamas, but it turns out that it’s more fortified than an al Qaeda command center, officers die and supervisors are then asked why they didn’t send in an overwhelming force.
Send in too many, no one gets hurt and job is accomplished. If those officers are getting paid to sit around anyway, why not use ’em?

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

I’m with Patrick. Better safe than sorry. I wouldn’t want to explain to a widow or other family member, “So sorry but we underestimated the threat.”

mangeek
mangeek
9 years ago

“So sorry but we underestimated the threat.”
We’re talking about offenders showing -zero- signs of any violent tendencies. Do you also think on-duty police should be wearing riot gear and carrying machine guns?
Sending SWAT in to get kids being accused of downloading movies or participating in hacking is alright by you? I’d much rather live in a world where the police don’t default to thinking every situation is about to turn into a bloodbath, because it’s often a self-fulfilling philosophy.
Realistically, you don’t need SWAT for pedophiles or computer criminals. For drug dealers, smugglers, and counterfeit operations, it’s definitely called-for.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

What does it hurt? Not always the best PR move to have a police squad dressed up like Nazi stormtroopers crashing into a non-violent offender’s house in the middle of the night and shooting the dogs in front of the children.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbwSwvUaRqc
It does put the suspect at significant risk, although as a practical matter, few are concerned about the rights of criminals. The more guns you have on a scene, the more chance there is of one of them going off. Plus, with these raids, the suspect often doesn’t know whether they are being raided by police or being home invaded a gang of criminals. Plenty of stories out there of Granny shooting through her bedroom door at a “burglar” and being riddled with police bullets. And the police don’t always get the right house…

Monique
Editor
9 years ago

“Remember it was a SWAT team from the Fish and Wildlife Service that raided Gibson Guitars in August. ”
Sheesh. That’s still unbelievable. Whoever is the GOP nominee needs to make that a campaign ad and run it often.
“Barack Obama. He brought Gibson Guitar to heel.”

mangeek
mangeek
9 years ago

Good link, Dan. It’s standard procedure to shoot pets first, from what I hear.
I want readers to think really carefully about what the founding fathers would have thought about this kind of response to a report of a few grams of contraband in someone’s home.
This could have been a few officers in the yard and one knocking politely at the door. Police shouldn’t be ‘practicing’ on citizens this way.
In reality, it’s pretty easy to determine if someone is going to comply or come out guns blazing (which is so rare). Any prior violent crimes? Any info from informants?

chuckR
chuckR
9 years ago

There recently was a SWAT raid in California by the US Department of Education. It is unclear whether this was over just a student loan badly in arrears or an investigation of student loan fraud. The suspect wasn’t there, but an unrelated guy was tossed in a squad car for several hours and his young children removed from him for that period of time.
Department of Education SWAT team? Fish and Wildlife Service SWAT team? Seriously?
For Agencies like that, there are perfectly serviceable Federal police forces that is almost without a doubt better trained, more capable and more experienced. They are called the FBI and US Marshals. Find a way to use one or the other.
Radley Balko writes frequently on misadventures involving SWAT raids. Too many heavily armed Barney Fifes, which is why you should call in the real pros.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

The most common policy, from what I’ve read, is that family dogs can be shot at the discretion of the officer the moment they show their teeth or otherwise “act viciously.” I guess barking would automatically fall into that category. Of course the dogs can avoid this grisly fate by remaining calm… when a team of shouting armed men crashes into their home…
Most have justified the routine executions on the grounds that they don’t want to “take chances.” I have a number of suggestions to address such concerns of the risk-averse: 1)Don’t become a police officer 2)Don’t join the SWAT team 3)Don’t raid nonviolent offenders in the middle of the night, etc.
In achieving a “good balance” between the risk to police during these raids and the risk to private citizens, pets, and property, I generally fall on the side of weighing the latter more heavily than the former. But then all my interactions with police have been negative, so perhaps I’m just bitter in that regard.
Such is the divergence of libertarians and conservatives. This type of thing fails to get me off. I love various forms of violent entertainment as much as the next guy, but there’s no sport in this.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Posted by Max D
“I’m with Patrick. Better safe than sorry. I wouldn’t want to explain to a widow or other family member, “So sorry but we underestimated the threat.””
By that theory we should be flooding Afghanistan with troops, and shooting up suspicious civilians. Instead we are charging our soldiers with crimes. Sorry, I forgot, those Afghans aren’t Americans, they have rights. Have we all forgotten Ruby Ridge where the Marshals/ATF shot a 13 year old in the back, and a sniper “took out” a mother with an infant in her arms? A few “Feds” were injured there, a majority of those bullets came from the guns of other “Feds”. In the end, after the family was tried for murder and acquited, they sued the government and were awarded millions. Anyone want to discuss Waco? I recall Mr. Freeh’s comment at the scene “The Federal Government is not going to be embarassed like this”, then he sent in the tanks. Seems to me he received a significant promotion.
PS, the Marshall’s sniper who shot the mother was awarded the Marshall service’s highest decoration. There was an excellent TV movie about this. “Every Knee Shall Bow”, if I remember correctly.

seirra1
seirra1
9 years ago

So Justin asks a reasonable question and Joe answers it citing applicable Federal statute…and then the discussion degenerates into anti-cop, anti-SWAT hysteria. All based on zero knowledge or experience with the subject matter. I thought I had accidentally jumped to the RIFuture page. WOW, hell of a blog this place has become.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Seirra – Justin didn’t just inquire about statutory authority. He characterized the activity of the IRS “SWAT” team as creepy and inappropriate. We happened to agree with him in this case, and we continued on-topic by discussing other inappropriate uses of excessive force by SWAT teams responding to non-violent offenders.
Being a philosophically consistent small-government conservative or libertarian means that you are against all abuses and excesses of government – not just a select few politically convenient targets like HUD or SSA. It means criticizing the activities of people who wear uniforms and carry guns sometimes, like the police or military, even though it may not be “cool” or in line with the GOP platform to do so. We get that you are, or were, a police officer. Realize that we aren’t trashing all police. We are holding them to a high standard and scrutinizing their activities, which is completely appropriate given the important and powerful role they hold in our society.
I do not agree with your implied premise that only those who have acted in a role may judge those filling it. I have not acted as a police officer, but I do know right from wrong, and I can recognize proportionality.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Warrington-the sniper who shot Vicky Weaver at Ruby Ridge was from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team,not the USMS.
I personally participated in serving over 900 search warrants, the vast majority for drugs.
I seldom saw a SWAT team.
Some of the warrants were for illegal aliens on commercial property and were mainly hide and seek operations or foot chases-others were for counterfeiting operations involving immigration documents or records.
We approached each type differently.
The drug warrants were generally executed as “dynamic entries”-tghe trick was having enough people to do them.
The Providence PD narcotics unit where I served for 4 years on loan from INS generally required 8 officers per floor(we often raided two floors in a buiding at one time) while DEA had their own parameters.
The RISP also had their particular style.
The only time I recall SWAT teams being utilized was in Woonsocket where we had a large number of buildings to raid at once and ATF supplied the SWAT unit-it was the same group that later was at Waco.
The INS had BORTAC,which was a Border Patrol SWAT team-they normally stayed on the border responding to serious assaults on agents.They did use them in Miami to take little Elian Gonzalez into custody beause they were concernec with community disorder.I was glad to be retired at the time.
Nowadays ICE agents look like Ninja turtles-in my day we were lucky to have vests.LOL.

mangeek
mangeek
9 years ago

The issue here is militarization of various branches of the enforcement agencies in government. If one was to apply a ‘business’ solution to this problem, there would be a pool of well-trained SWAT-like agents who were loaned-out to other agencies when they needed the help, and there would be chargebacks within the budgets to make these kind of ‘overwhelming force’ raids too expensive to waste on small-time criminals or run-of-the-mill warrants.
Instead, what we have is Fish and Wildlife, IRS, and other agencies building their own strike units. Historically, this path does not end well.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“By that theory we should be flooding Afghanistan with troops, and shooting up suspicious civilians.”
By any stretch of the imagination a clueless leap that doesn’t justify a real response.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Posted by joe bernstein
“Warrington-the sniper who shot Vicky Weaver at Ruby Ridge was from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team,not the USMS.”
Joe, you are correct, the sniper was from HRT. That is truly frightening, the FBI is a serious “gun culture”. Interestingly, the same sniper, Horiuchi, was at Waco. FBI infra red films strongly suggest that he fired at Davidians fleeing from the fire. The bullets could not be matched to Horiuchi’s gun because it had been re-barreled.
Joe also writes: “in my day we were lucky to have vests.LOL.”
Joe, the HRT also has the solution to vests, “two taps to the center of mass, one tap to the head”. Why does the FBI say “taps” instead of bullets?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

A “double tap”is the term for two quick center mass shots.I don’t know the origin,but that multiple shot response was also taught by INS.
The Border Patrol was a real gun culture-we had to qualify at 50 yards as part of the course.
The INS Investigations Division stuck to 25 yards as the maximum range-diferent working environment.
There’s an ammo company called “Double Tap”-they manufacture high powered handgun ammo for hunting and defensive applications.
Still,Warrington,a lot of street hoods are better armed than the officers going after them.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Posted by joe bernstein
“Still,Warrington,a lot of street hoods are better armed than the officers going after them.”
Joe, not really trying to argue that one, but I hear that one and again. Admittedly, the “Tec 9” was the desired drug weapon of the 80’s. Still, whenever I see pictures of the weapons recovered from “street hoods” they are overwhelmingly older shotguns and not very sophisticated pistols. (I wouldn’t want to be hit by either one)
It would seem that the government’s gun running to the Mexicans may have altered that.
Common “street hoods”, such as the “street corner salesmen” and “foot soldiers” for street drug operations make barely more than minimum wage, most are economically forced to live with their mothers. I wonder where they would obtain the funds for sophisticated weaponry. Of course, this is not true for drug “king pins”. But, they know about criminal laws, and rarely carry a gun or cash. All of this from the writings of a man who was able to infiltrate Chicago’s Black Disciples.
I sometimes wonder if it is simply that the various police forces require a “worthy enemy”. The average person viewing the photos in a newspaper wouldn’t know a Ruger .22 from a Bartlett .50.
About the “double tap” (why the euphemism?) I am frequently amused that people wearing Teflon in the movies seemingly just “stand there and take it”.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“About the “double tap” (why the euphemism?) I am frequently amused that people wearing Teflon in the movies seemingly just “stand there and take it”.”
Teflon?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Warrington-I can tell you personally I recovered many high quality firearms from street level offenders.
357’s and 45 ACP’s were common.
@Max-I think he meant Kevlar.

seirra1
seirra1
9 years ago

“Still,Warrington,a lot of street hoods are better armed than the officers going after them.” It’s not necessarily that they are better armed but just armed, why go to a gun fight on equal footing with your attacker? Particularly when they don’t have rules of engagement to abide by. The police service pistol is a defensive weapon, it’s meant to protect the officer at close range, long range shoot outs with handguns is Hollywood BS. RI police qualify at a distance of no greater than 21 yards and thats only two shots of a 50 round course. This isn’t to make the course easy but because experience shows that most officer involved shootings occurr within 7 feet of the target. Hell, the average police sniper shot over the last 25 years is only 54 yards. This is where the need for long guns (m-4, ar-15,m-16, etc)comes in. It’s not out of the question to go to a call for service at a residence with the occupant has several rifles in their closet, they don’t have to street corner drug dealers, just an irate, cheated on, recently fired, off his meds gun collector or hunter. You’ver also got the workplace and school shootings that happen around the country. They have already and could again happen here in little Rhody. As for SWAT in RI, this is the first state where each department with a team is required to meet certain training, equipment, and proffeciency benchmarks set by the RITOA and the Interlocal Trust, which insures most police departments. As a police supervisor and SWAT officer I feel much safer and capable of defeating any threat I face knowing I have a long gun and years of training in its use at my disposal. I also know that when a situation goes sideways… Read more »

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

The Border Patrol used a 50 yard range because of the flat open country where a lot of activity took place-we could carry the issue 357 or anything else we liked when I joined in 1976-nowadays it’s all standardized.
We also got issued 12 gauge Remingtons and Mossberg 308 bolt actions(!!)-no one carried the “deer guns”LOL.
I still have to shoot the RI police course evry year because I have a LEOSA carry credential for nationwide CCW.

Warringtn Faust
Warringtn Faust
9 years ago

seirra1
I have to ask. Did you select the screen name as a take off on the nomenclature the HRT uses/used for the first sniper position (Sierra 1)?
I don’t doubt your statement about 7 feet. It is probably for the same reason that most shark attacks occur in less than 6 feet of water, that’s where the people are.
“Particularly when they don’t have rules of engagement to abide by”
If I found my house being stormed by 14 heavily armed men, I am not sure what Rules of Engagement (the very term speaks of the militarization of the police) I would adopt.
No, I don’t believe in taking a knife to a gun fight.
MaxD, I did mean Kevlar, and I can “shoot the quarter” at 100 yards. My wing shooting is at least as good.
Since Joe mentions the .45 ACP, here is a bit of history. The cartridge was developed to combat the Huks, and Amoks (as in “running amok”),in the Philippines. After much experience, the Army wanted a handgun that would knock them down.
A further comment on cops and guns. My target rifles and several other guns have been stolen. I called the police and provided a list with serial numbers. I naively asked if there was any chance of recovery, the response, after looking at the list, was “If any cop finds guns like these, you’ll never see them”.
I used to know the widow of an ATF officer. He died under very mysterious circumstances, leaving her with a large collection of machine guns he had “confiscated”, along with artillery simulators and other exotica. Perhaps the police officer I reported my theft to knew what he was talking about.

sierra1
sierra1
9 years ago

Warrington,
Yes, the Sierra1 screen name is in reference to the sniper element TL call sign. I wondered if that would ever be figured out. As far as rules of engagement, I was refering to having to be aware of our backstop, ie., be mindfull of what is behind your target whether it be on a street with pedestrians or in a building where it is more likely than not that a handgun round will travel through several walls and rooms before finally stopping. Basically, you can’t pray and spray and hope one or two rounds hit the target, you’ve got to account for every one.
As for “14 heavily armed men” storming your house I operate under the basic assumption that if that were to happen then they are acting under a duly sworn and signed search/arrest warrant; had punched the circumstances through the department matrix, met the requisite point totals and had determined that such force was necessary for officer safety.
As for the reporting officer telling you you’d never see your weapons again if recovered, sounds like inappropriate cop humor at worst. Believe it or not most cops aren’t too fond of guns and probably wouldn’t know a high end weapon from a burner if they found them.

David P
David P
9 years ago

I think sierra1’s faith in the safeguards governing the use of SWAT teams is misplaced. What department matrix justifies sending 12 agents with submachine guns to raid a guitar factory over a non-violent hyper-technical violation concerning the import of rosewood fret boards? Why does the IRS need 30 heavily armed agents to review the financial records of a neighborhood bar?
SWAT teams used to be reactive. They responded to bank robberies and hostage situations. “Unfortunately” there aren’t enough of those to go around. Now they are used frequently to execute search warrants in drug cases, even for routine marijuana possession offenders with no history of violence. The overall numbers are educational. In the early 80’s there were 3000 annual SWAT deployments nationwide. In 2001 there were 40,000.
The transition from reactive to proactive use of SWAT teams has lead to numerous mistakes and unnecessary injuries and deaths. Ideally law enforcement agencies at all levels should review their use of SWAT teams. Unfortunately I think that SWAT culture is so ingrained in law enforcement that civilian authorities will have to get over their reflexive deference to police and impose some controls from outside.

seirra1
seirra1
9 years ago

David P,
The use of SWAT teams has gone from reactive to proactive for reasons that should be plainly obvious to anyone regardless of their level of expertise in the area. As I said above “officer safety”. Far too many officers have been injuried and killed serving warrants with little more than a handgun and 4 to 8 hours a YEAR of range time. It was just a few months ago where I believe 2 Providence vice detectives were shot on a “routine” warrant service. SWAT teams are not used for run of the mill everyday warrant executions, they’re used for “high risk” situations. Where the subject is known to possess guns, has a fortified location that requires the use of breaching tools, has an arrest record with multiply violent felonies, etc. As for the Gibson guitar raid you and I don’t know the facts of the case only whats been reported in the media. I could be wrong but I question the use of the term “SWAT team” for what happened there. I could be wrong, I’ll try and educate myself on the topic.
“In the early 80’s there were 3000 annual SWAT deployments nationwide. In 2001 there were 40,000.” Not sure I see your point. Yes more teams equals more deployments. Departments realizing the benefit of having highly trained specialized units taking care of the more dangerous aspects of the job. The so called “SWAT Culture” isn’t a bad thing. I think you have some warped idea of what it is. I would say it’s placing a higher value on training, equipment and officer and public safety than can be obtained through the usual police methods.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

“As I said above “officer safety”. Far too many officers have been injuried and killed serving warrants with little more than a handgun and 4 to 8 hours a YEAR of range time.”
So with this expensive and time-intensive new “proactive” approach we now have fewer officer deaths and more “civilian” deaths. That is an improvement… how? I realize that asking a police officer this question may be self-defeating, but the rest of us do not see the militarization of the police force and shifting the casualties onto “civilians” as a positive development.

seirra1
seirra1
9 years ago

Dan
“So with this expensive and time-intensive new “proactive” approach we now have fewer officer deaths and more “civilian” deaths”
You are a big proponent of backing up statements with facts, where are the increase in civilian deaths? David cites 40,000 SWAT call outs in 2000, how many deaths occurred? Of those deaths how many were officers, how many were criminals, how many were innocent bystanders brutally murdered by gun-crazed police?
You aren’t going to find any facts to support your statement. I think you went a little overboard with this one.
Whether you want to believe it or not SWAT is a necessary part of the modern police function. They’re sort of like your homeowners insurance. You spend thousands of dollars over the course of many years and rarely need it. But when you do need it you better have it.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“So with this expensive and time-intensive new “proactive” approach we now have fewer officer deaths and more “civilian” deaths.”
Show us your stats Dan. It’s real easy to cherry pick incidents gone bad but it’s much more of a challenge to count the number of civilian and officer lives that have been saved because of ‘swat’ teams.

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Sierra and Max – I don’t have any statistics – this isn’t a hobby for me. I charge $40/hour for this type of work if you would like me to research the issue for you further. I have simply noticed, as have others, that there are A LOT more SWAT team misadventure news stories winding up on the blogs and in the papers in recent years. Whether this is due to “cherry picking” or over-reporting, I can’t say, but it is not due to any effort on my part. I don’t think either of you could possibly argue that these late-night shotgun raids are actually safer for those inside the dwellings, so it stands to reason that there would be more accidents, or incidents as it were, simply by the nature of the activity and its heavily increased frequency. I do have a problem with this, especially since violent crime is down from earlier decades (I do have data to support that much). Sierra – Again misstating positions – I never argued that SWAT teams are unnecessary, nor has anyone here made that argument. We have been pretty clear in stating that it is the militarization of police force as a whole and the increased use of “overwhelming force” for nonviolent offender situations is what we find troubling. It is also disturbing how police officers feel such an instinctive need to rabidly shoot down any and all criticism and circle their wagons rather than engage in totally valid public policy debates over the proper role for law enforcement in modern society. The entire point we are making is that this “us versus them” mentality is poisonous and self-fulfilling. I have absolutely no problem with discussing openly the unique problems and legitimate public policy issues regarding my own profession – why… Read more »

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“I have absolutely no problem with discussing openly the unique problems and legitimate public policy issues regarding my own profession – why take everything so personally?”
Speaking for myself, you can criticize individual officers for their actions or omissions without rebuttal unless of course there are facts to the contrary. The problem arises when you unfairly disparage an entire system through uneducated and unsubstantiated claims.

helen
helen
9 years ago

When I am so crushed financially by elitists government mandates that I can no longer comply and the SWAT teams come to take me away,please don’t kill my beloved kitty.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
9 years ago

Warrington-wefought the Moros(not the Huks,a post WW2 movement)in the Philippines in the period around 1901-02,well before the 45 ACP existed(it debuted in 1911)and thee Army had 38 revolvers which were inadequate,so they replaced them with 45 COLT revolvers.
The 45 Colt is a larger,heavier round(generally depending on loading)than the ACP and can be loaded from a mild parctice round to a round adequate for bear.
Generally it’s 250 gr loading and is effective in stopping people much more quickly than a 38.
The Army employed 45 revolvers in WW1 also when the supply of 45 ACP 1911 autos was inadequate for demand.

David P
David P
9 years ago

I try not to make “uneducated and unsubstantiated claims” on this site. In this case I am relying on a 2006 study by the Cato Institute tracing the history of SWAT teams and compiling a (non-exhaustive) collection of case histories involving raids at the wrong address as well as instances where innocent civilians, police officers and non-violent offenders were injured or killed. Comprehensive statistical analyses of mistakes and abuses by SWAT teams are hard to come by, not least because police departments are resistant to the idea of compiling such statistics. Nevertheless one criminologist found that between 1989 and 2001 at least 780 cases of flawed paramilitary raids reached the appellate level. This figure obviously does not include cases that were resolved at or before the trial level or which were never brought to court. The Cato Institute report references a number of local studies and includes policy sugggestions to curb abuses. In addition, Cato has an interactive map at cato.org/raidmap showing the location of numerous botched raids categorized by type of abuse. What I find most disturbing is the frequency with which police officials appear completely unwilling to accept responsibility or question policies when their actions result in the death of innocent civilians.

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

What I find most disturbing is the frequency with which police officials appear completely unwilling to accept responsibility or question policies when their actions result in the death of innocent civilians.
Unfortunately that’s the result of living in a litigious society and not limited to modern policing. One of the benefits of national accreditation in law enforcement is setting in place systems for internal critical analysis. I got a birds eye view of how accreditation and higher education requirement can morph a police department from head crackers to problem solvers. I cannot tell you if one would work without the other but it was a pretty incredible transition. If there was ever an expense a city or town should embrace, it would be national accreditation.

seirra1
seirra1
9 years ago

“Sierra and Max – I don’t have any statistics – this isn’t a hobby for me. I charge $40/hour for this type of work if you would like me to research the issue for you” Dan, had any one of us responded with this pompous and ignorant statement you’d go on for forever about it. You made a statement you can’t back up-either present some facts or retract it. You’d demand the same from us. “It is also disturbing how police officers feel such an instinctive need to rabidly shoot down any and all criticism and circle their wagons rather than engage in totally valid public policy debates over the proper role for law enforcement in modern society” Dan-There wasn’t much “valid public policy debate” going on. It was factless cop bashing. “Nevertheless one criminologist found that between 1989 and 2001 at least 780 cases of flawed paramilitary raids reached the appellate level” DavidP this statistic is worthless without some sort of explanation as to why it reached the appellate level. Did the complainant appeal the verdict becuase the government was found to have acted lawfully or vice versa? Who deems the raids flawed? This criminologist, what is his agenda? In this day and age any time someone id hurt or killed in a police action a lawsuit insues, that doesn’t make the raid flawed. Who defines “raid” I’m referring to SWAT raids, does the study include raids by narcotics units? They’re completely seperate entities and shouldn’t be included in a discussion of tactical police units. I would take issue with that. “In this case I am relying on a 2006 study by the Cato Institute tracing the history of SWAT teams and compiling a (non-exhaustive) collection of case histories involving raids at the wrong address as well as instances… Read more »

David P
David P
9 years ago

Sierra1 Do you think dead innocent civilians is an acceptable outcome? Can we at least agree that that outcome represents a serious flaw in the system? I have no personal knowledge as to why the criminologist I cited studied cases that reached the appellate level although I would assume its because those are the cases that get reported and can be searched through Lexis or Westlaw. Cato collected over 100 case histories for its report including over 70 where the police went to the wrong address. I hope you would agree that that constitutes a “flawed” raid. The question isn’t necessarily whether a given practice or policy is constitutional, but rather whether it is wise and just. Nobody has suggested that SWAT teams shouldn’t exist. The issue is how and when to employ them. Mistakes are inevitable in any human activity. The question we have to ask ourselves is, how do we minimize the frequency and the undesirable consequences of those mistakes? Dynamic entry tactics cause a lot of confusion and disorientation. That’s what they’re designed to do. It is not unreasonable to question whether that confusion reduces or increases the danger to officers and civilians alike. Several of the case studies collected by Cato describe situations where people who were either innocent or guilty of only minor offenses were provoked into using or attempting to use force because they were woken from their beds by armed men crashing through their doors and or windows. You may claim these accounts are anecdotal but in the absence of comprehensive statistical data, which can only be provided by police departments, anecdotes are all we have to go on. In your last comment you ask whether raids refers to SWAT raids or narcotics units. This is what I was getting at when I… Read more »

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

“Do you think dead innocent civilians is an acceptable outcome?”
No, innocent civilians killed or injured are unacceptable but Swat teams aren’t exactly littering the streets with bodies of the innocent.
The warrant is being served anyway which begs the question, would you rather have a team highly trained in dynamic entry execute the warrant or a bunch of narcotics cops. Having been a member of a drug task force that served warrants regularly and on one occasion ended up facing the business end of a shotgun, I vote for the highly trained team.

David P
David P
9 years ago

I never suggested SWAT teams were “littering the streets with the bodies of the innocent” but they are racking up quite a body count. How many bodies are you willing to countenance so that you can have a team highly trained in dynamic entry execute routine warrants? A survey of incidents in which innocent people were killed shows that there any number of ways these raids can go wrong. I previously mentioned the cases where people attempted to defend themselves because they woke in the middle of the night to an armed raid and didn’t know the raiders were police. Other cases involve the accidental discharge of police firearms in the confusion of the raid or because the officer is startled or jostled. Occasionally the victims of these accidental shootings are fellow officers. Because these officers are carrying long guns, they can’t holster them even after the scene has been secured. In one case an 11-year-old boy was killed while lying face down on the floor because an officer had a shotgun trained on his head and accidentally fired it. Some elderly targets of these raids have died of heart attacks from the stress. One couple died of smoke inhalation after a flashbang ignited a fire in their home. And the list goes on. None of these people were guilty of anything. Most just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of them are foreseeable results of the policies and practices governing the use of paramilitary tactics by law enforcement. These raids are, by their very nature, dangerous and the more you use them, the more people will get hurt.

seirra1
seirra1
9 years ago

DavidP-
You refer to “routine warrants” being served by SWAT. Maybe it’s symantics or a lack of knowledge of the job but SWAT are not used for “routine warrants.” Each department (at least locally) will have a matrix, assigning a point value for certain situations. For example, 1 point if the warrant is for a non violent crime, 5 points if the suspect has previous convictions for crimes of violence, 10 points if the warrant is for an armed crime of violence, etc. If a threshold point value is reached, (say 15-18 points) then SWAT has to be used. A run of mill drug search warrant is not going get the SWAT involved. Knowing the internal squabbles between SWAT and narcotics units they’re (narcs) are going to do everything in their creative writing power to make sure the threshold number is rarely met. SWAT teams train anywhere from 8-16 hours a month (for so called part-time or colateral duty teams)on entries, movement, range time, etc whereas the narcs rarely if ever train in these areas. My point is that if SWAT is used the instances of accidental death or injury will go down not up.
As for making entry into the wrong home, yes that’s a problem, however, where was the mistake made. Was it on the warrant, was the detective mistaken, was the SWAT given the correct address and hit the wrong door. I’m not trying to defend the conduct of the enter police department just saying the mistake may not have been the SWAT teams fault.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

I thought I would add a little to the “militarization” of the police, and go it one better. This morning I noticed a small city Fire Chief in Dunkin Donuts. I couldn’t help notice his uniform mirrored a Navy uniform. I also couldn’t help notice he had more stripes on his sleeve than a Fleet Admiral. Above the stripes, where the Navy authorizes one star for a line officer, he wore 5 stars. He also wore enough ribbons to obliterate his right chest. I assume he “earned his stripes”.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Knowing what I do of small cities payrolls, I ran a check on Naval pay grades. It is safe to assume that the Fire Chief makes more than a Rear Admiral (UH).

Max D
Max D
9 years ago

@Warrington,
You do understand these are paramilitary organizations right? The stripes would be his years of service and the stars are usually reserved for chiefs. The number of stars may vary.

David P
David P
9 years ago

My point is not to assign blame to any particular person or group of people within law enforcement. My point is that mistakes are inevitable whenever humans are involved and the use of paramilitary tactics by law enforcement increases both the probability that mistakes will be made and makes the consequences of those mistakes more severe.
Maybe your particular department doesn’t have these problems. Does it compile comprehensive statistics on the use of its SWAT team and the results of each deployment and are those stats available for public review? If not, why not?

JohnLane
JohnLane
9 years ago

joe bernstein-
Well, your a little off. The .45ACP was developed and introduced (Browning was working for Colt) in 1905, and released with the Colt Model 1905.
Also, the Army did not replace the .38 Long Colts with .45 Colts, the .45 LC’s had already been in service with the Calvary..mostly in Colt Model 1873 SSA’s..

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
9 years ago

Posted by Max D
@Warrington,
“You do understand these are paramilitary organizations right?”
I do. Given the history of fire departments, that was probably a necessary move (read “Gangs of New York”). With the veteran’s preference, it will probably remain that way. I am not at all sure why public safety organizations should be “paramilitary”. Like High Schools, they probably adopted a model and cannot change it.
“The stripes would be his years of service and the stars are usually reserved for chiefs.”
These were not “hash marks”, they appeared to follow the Navy usage to designate rank. He appeared to be in his mid 40”s.
“The number of stars may vary.”
Without doubt, still if they follow military usage 5 stars indicates the highest rank, Fleet Admiral, or General of the Army. I don’t think we have had a Fleet Admiral since the 60’s. I am not sure if there is a General of the Army. Eisenhower is the last one I can remember. (for reasons unknown to me, a Congressman prevented Spruance from achieving Fleet Admiral. Shows you how political the military can be,)

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