Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lock picking, explosives - SWAT cops party in Dallas

If the whole Texas SWAT (CourtTV) or Dallas SWAT (A&E) phenomenon is your idea of good reality television, some of your heroes will likely be at the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association's upcoming conference in Dallas April 1-6. It looks like quite a shindig, if you're into that sort of thing. The 2,000 member (yikes!) association was created to train and promote communication between members of Texas SWAT teams. Can you imagine such a testosterone-filled bunch getting together in Dallas to party? I wonder if anyone will order beer?

Participants in the trade show
read like a list of arms dealers. My favorite conference event, I think, is the session training cops in lockpicking skills and supplying them with burglary tools:
Covert Lock Defeating for Law Enforcement
This course will teach students the fundamentals of covert lock defeating, including lock picking and lock by passing. The course will include a starter lock pick set. A comprehensive manual covering all of the techniques in the class will be available for purchase during the class, for $20.00.

Covert Lock Defeating for LE 8 hrs. - Mon or Tues Host Hotel
Covert Lock Defeating for LE 8 hrs. - Mon or Tues Host Hotel

Instructor Biography - Darby Darrow

Darby Darrow has been a police officer for the city of San Diego since 1986 and is currently assigned to the full time SWAT unit. Mark Willhelm has been a police officer for the city of San Diego since 1989 and is also assigned to the full time SWAT unit.

Required Equipment
All needed equipment will be provided in the classroom, with the exception of pen/paper.
There are other interesting topics, too - cops who want to learn to use explosives to blow your front door down can attend a course at Texas Stadium (after all, the Cowboys' spring training hasn't started yet). Learn how to perform "bus assaults." Two cops from Houston will teach a course on "covert or deliberate searches." And it'd be interesting to be a fly on the wall to hear this discussion of Mexican drug cartels and border violence.

The fellow giving the training on how to handle the aftermath of police shootings authored a book in 2004 in which,
according to Publisher's Weekly, "He disparages 'antipolice activists and other windbags' and doesn’t seem to have interviewed anyone whose shooting was found to be unjustified." Probably a regular Grits reader, don't you think?

Via Terry Nall

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

OVER THE TOP

hope said...

Covert searches of citizens private property? I suspect that "covert" could sometimes mean "warrantless". That sounds like something that might be slipping off the edge of our Constitution.

I can tell you one thing about this article that disturbs me...and it has for years. These trainees use their skill outside of law enforcement. I know they do, because it happened to me regarding something not at all involving official law enforcement. When I asked how in thunder did he get in my house, the officer in question smilingly mumbled something about "Skeleton keys". I didn't like it then, nearly thirty years ago, and I don't like it now. But I guess that's just the way of things.

"Covert" and "lock picking" probably go hand in hand. I would think that their favorite entrance involves a battering ram. (It's good for the economy, what with having to replace all those doors.) But exploding doors off their hinges might be more fun than a battering ram and certainly more exciting than picking locks.

It looks like the best we can hope for is that they, hopefully, really are the "good" guys.

Right.

Even Jesus wouldn't say that he was "Good".

cliff said...

""Covert" and "lock picking" probably go hand in hand."

Hope:

I saw things like this being taught to our SF troops about 20 or so years ago. Then it was used to get information or assets from a secure area. Then it was being used for unconvential warfare in the cold war and in that world there are no rules.

Sadly, that world of no rules are infiltrating our own society. The land of freedom that I willingly defended is slowly but surely becoming the very place I thought was the worst place in the world to live. Namely, the Soviet Union. We aren't there yet, but I can see it coming, where the oridinary citizen becomes the enemy of the state and police use unconventional warfare tactics are used indiscriminately and often.

Look at the liberal use of SWAT teams to get non-violent drug offenders, gamblers, etc. You don't have to look far to see reports on the internet. Now make the next leap of the imagination to what we just read and you can see where we are headed. Like a commenter said on another blog, "We are doomed, as doomed can be." Unless we get busy and head this off we are.

When our own police forces are being taught the tools of unconventional warfare and they are being applied to US citizens, I find that very appalling and I am sad for all of us.

hope said...

Cliff, I so agree.

It's very frightening. The escalation of this type of behavior on the part of our law enforcement is a veritable copy of what we saw in the U.S.S.R. twenty and thirty years ago. I used to feel so sorry for the regular Soviet people. Now it's us I'm feeling sorry for.

We've got to fight it somehow or look what sort of existence we are leaving to our posterity.

It just makes me sick. It makes me sick because it's poisonous...and I nearly cry when I think about my children and grandchildren and their children inheriting such a vile excuse for non-tyranical government.

Anonymous said...

If you got all those guys in a room, locked the door, and steroid tested them all, they'd probably have to cancel the TV shows afterward. There'd be no one left to film.

Anonymous said...

OMG! LOL!

Was gonna hit the hay, but Hope and Cliff are too entertaining. Delusional AND Paranoid in one blog thread. Gotta love it!

Hope, don't "suspect" so much from a 30 year old incident. We don't want your secret cookie recipe.

And Cliff, could you please explain how the use of specialized tactics equates to "no rules...infiltrating our own society"?

Special weapons and tactics are used for one reason...reduce the amount of force used in a situation. I've listened to the "WTSHTF" doomsayers like you for many moons, and enough is apparently never enough. You wanna know why a certain "tactic" is used? Just take the tinfoil hat off yer noggin and ask.

Oh yeah. Steroids are bad. wink

Anonymous said...

To: Anonymous 10:36pm and Hope and Cliff;

Couldn't help but respond to Anonymous 10:36pm. Read what he wrote so you understand why he is the way he is.

In his mind, which is probably a very tormenting existence, he thinks your criticisms focus on using it.

In his mind, you don't know what it's used for and since he (a cop)
knows it for safety; it's ok.

Just to put a face of experience on this thing, this whole Dynamic Entry is great if you're going into a house, a building, or something where you KNOW it's nothing short of very DANGEROUS.

I served over 100 search warrants and the only dangerous people in the houses I was in were the cops like anonymous who stood outside the house so everyone could visibly see their domineering ways.

SWAT tactics are becoming the PREFERRED way to enter because it GUARANTEES the safety of the officers; no matter what's inside. That's where this thing takes off in their favor.

Remember WACO was a staged media SWAT event before it turned bad. The tactic probably contributed to the cause of those that sadly lost their life. David Koresh could have been arrested in safer places but ATF wanted a media event.

Helmets, black clothing, special tactics, and smoke grenades. You'll find that these warriors are used mostly because they get the word out they need practice in case of the real thing; so now their practice has now become preferred.

It always starts out as a good idea which is was it WAS.

kaptinemo said...

Now, as to the 'tin foil hat' dimension, it is hardly alarmist to be concerned about what kinds of actions are being conducted in order to 'save' us from illicit drugs. For example, in the oops-wrong-house Alberto Sepulaveda drug raid, it was a lying, drunken informant who fingered the Sepulveda house as being a drug den...when it most certainly wasn't. The police came in force, using all those tactics that have become all too common...and an innocent Alberto Sepulveda, a 12 year old boy, died. A victim of a point-blank shotgun blast by the adrenaline-tripping cop who was standing over him, as he lay face down on the floor of his home. A novel way of 'saving the children' from the 'scourge of drugs' don't you think?

It is not solely the province of tin foil salesmen to be concerned about the direction law enforcement is taking in this country; that's why we had education at an early age, to compare societies and point to the flaws they suffered from to avoid making the same mistakes. Unfortunately, too many have failed to learn those lessons, as we seem to be making the same mistakes that other nations have made before...to their sorrow.

There's a reason why tyrannical governments are often referred to as 'police states'; residing too much power in the hands of largely unaccountable police as this DrugWar has led to is just one more example of why one must be constantly on guard to protect what civil liberties you have left. Before we join those nations who didn't keep a tight enough leash on their guardians, and the guardians sought to make themselves masters.

cliff said...

"And Cliff, could you please explain how the use of specialized tactics equates to "no rules...infiltrating our own society"? "

" OMG! LOL!"

Anonymous 10:36

I love how our law enforcement officials belittle the citizens they are paid to protect rather than addressing the issue. I have never seen a legal reason for police to pick locks. I also have not seen any no knock raids that the cops used a lock pick set to open a door. The only reason I can see this being used for is to gain entrance without the knowledge of the owner.

While you guys are learning the fine art of unconventional war, the war on some drugs has made Denver the hub of illegal drug and human smuggling and you guys are trying to learn how to pick locks, ostensibly to gain entrance into an area that someone doesn't want you to enter.

Why not go to the border and fight the war on some drugs there with your skills and toys? Probably because you like the easy pickings against non-violent drug offenders, where the odds are way in your favor.

If something can't be obtained by a search warrant, then I see no problem in breaching barriers to obtain evidence based on an entrance approved by a warrant. However, lock picking? I have a hard time believing that police need that skill to exercise a warrant. There are lock smiths that would love the billable time to pick a lock for the police if the entrance was legally required.

What I am pointing out is, the greater use of unconventional tactics against citizens, ie no knock SWAT raids, and warrantless searches are becoming more common and I am concerned about it.

OBTW, steroids are illegal, hardly something that I would suggest our law enforcement participate in and they make your testicles shrink.

hope said...

To the anonymous who thought my concern and grief was "entertaining".

You said, "Special weapons and tactics are used for one reason...reduce the amount of force used in a situation."

Not only sir do you exhibit the tendencies and behavior of a real bully you are gifted at double speak and illusion.

I learned when on a jury that one of the "less forceful" techniques you speak of is to pull a citizen, a woman in the case I'm familiar with, out of a car by the hair of the head...with her seat belt still fastened, at that. If a husband did that to his wife to get her out of the car quickly enough to suit him, he would be accused of abuse, and rightfully so...yet it's ok for an officer to do it...to someone in fact, in this case, that he knew was not a "threat" to him at all. He chose this method, he said, to insure her safety.

You sir, I believe, with your arrogant, hateful personality, probably, should not be allowed to carry a weapon in the name of the law and citizens or tarnish a badge.

A police officer should have compassion, a certain amount of nobility, and a better understanding of right and wrong than you exhibit.

Bullies aren't ever the "good guys".

But...keep talking. It's good to have a written record that our law makers can see to see what sort of personalities they've armed and set upon the public.

I'd like to "entertain" you right out of that sadly misplaced badge. You'd probably be more in place being a body guard for a gangster than you have being a guardian of freedom and peace.

People with your sort of personality disorders, I feel, have no place in positions of authority over others.

Since you are a "Tulia type"...I do have a question for you. What was the purpose of parading those people in public in their underwear?

hope said...

Sorry.

It appears I'm being mean again. I don't mean to be mean. It does disturb
me, though.

You have my apologies...especially about the "tarnish"...that was probably way to harsh...I hope.

Probably you don't mean to be mean, either...or maybe you do. It's not always easy to tell from the outside looking in.

hope said...

I apologize for "personality disorder" as well.

Sorry.

hope said...

Oh...I'm really sorry.

I'm known as the "pepper of the earth" around here.

:0(

Maybe I should start posting as anonymous.

hope said...

I fear I may have "become like that which I hated".

Hope said...

To the anonymous at 6:33 AM.

Thank you sir for your attempt to explain your fellow officer's behavior. You are very kind.

Anonymous said...

First, this is an open blog. Take all that you read with many grains of NaCl.

Second, the reference to steroids was so that 'anonymous 7:07am' wouldn't feel left out. That's why I winked at him/her, but I can see how that was misconstrued. My fault.

Third, anyone who has "served over 100 search warrants" and found nobody dangerous other than the LEO's is, well, to put it simply a liar.

Fourth, the tragedy at Mt Carmel is the sole responsibility of the decisions of Vernon Howell, and how he chose to address police executing a warrant.

Fifth, kaptinemo has some good points, but anecdote, while true, doesn't illustrate any trends or necessitate the use of the beloved "the sky is falling".

Sixth, at issue is the use of the most modern, and often "military style" tactics by local law enforcement, and whether these tactics do more harm than good. I say they protect me, mine and yours more than they hurt us. Just cuz you ain't "seen it", don't make it not true. Likewise, just cuz you spout "no knock SWAT raids, and warrantless searches are becoming more common", saying it don't make it so.

Finally, to Hope. I get a little miffed at folks who pretend to know something about law enforcement and spout their diatribes at anyone willing to listen. Scott Henson and the ACLU do some pretty good things for the citizens of Texas but they also do some bad. I can take criticism, but when fallacy, innuendo, and outright lies are used, I'll throw a few rocks right back atcha. I don't condone law enforcement agencies or officers acting beyond their scope, at all. My issue is that folks are merely poking at the animal in the cage, rather than doing what they can to change the animals behavior.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 6:51pm

Calling someone a liar means you know that out of 100 search warrants you've served, there's was real danger. I'm not talking about contraband in the house or guns, even lawful people have that and there's danger when those things are present even when you hit the wrong door. What I meant and everyone but you understood is that the force you use for entry should be force but not the amount; dressed in black; on every house on every warrant that it;s used. Bad PR and I take offense to being called a liar when you say it without saying you've found someone dangerous enough in the 100 you've served to justify black helmets, shields, smoke grenades, lock picks, and all of the other bullshit you're sick and perverted power mind can conjure.

I don't necessarily agree with Henson but I'm glad I don't work with cops like you anymore because quite frankly I'd trust dope dealers with a natural habit more than I trust a cop with a habit of just being natural.

You're just about out of a job so wake up even if you're too ignorant to realize that everyone can see from your words you are the consumate HYPOCRIT with too much power.

Hope said...

"Anecdote"? Alberto, an eleven-year-old boy, was an "anecdote"?

http://tinyurl.com/om22e

Webster's defines anecdote as "a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident".

Here's just couple of lists of "anecdotes" the WoD has given us.

http://www.injusticeline.com/viims.html

or the list at Drug War Victims

http://tinyurl.com/pgdph

"If it means we can save one child…". Some of those people on those lists are children. How many children must die violently to save that mythical "one child" we have heard so much about? How many police officers? How many innocent men, women, and children?

Alberto's death was ruled by the powers that be to be an accident. Charity Bowers and her mother were killed with one bullet…for both of them. That was somehow ruled an accident or misunderstanding…even though they purposely shot that plane out of the sky. Purposely. How dare they try to blame their victims or it was just a mistake and we need to keep on keeping on….because guys like you are so angry at and despise so the people who use drugs or illegal herbs. People get killed….because the drug dealers make you mad, or you despise or hate them.

Our grandparents had enough sense to end prohibition of alcohol when seven gangsters and a dog were executed in a warehouse in Chicago on St. Valentines Day 1929. How long does the list of violent and unnecessary deaths…and many of them pure innocents and children, at that…have to go on to satisfy the hatred of those who hate drug use?

Also, I would like to know why the people arrested in Tulia were paraded on the court house lawn in their underwear…for viewing and televising?

hope said...

Sir, you said, "Finally, to Hope. I get a little miffed at folks who pretend to know something about law enforcement and spout their diatribes at anyone willing to listen."

I'm not pretending...Sir.

Hope said...

"My issue is that folks are merely poking at the animal in the cage, rather than doing what they can to change the animals behavior."

Could you elaborate on that statement, please?

If you speak of yourself, sir, or law enforcement practices that seem wrong to me, my intention is not to "poke at you". My intention is to say, "Look at this. Don't you think there is something wrong with this?"

I'm upset at the deaths and intimidation and seizures. I cannot understand how you can brush them off so easily and stay on the same track towards similar tragedies.

To clear up some pixels here. I've raised several children...good ones...outstanding ones. Everyone of them. As a part of the job description of raising children, an ability to make things clear to someone who does not want to understand what I'm saying is important. I can break out into a scolding or lecture if I don't watch myself. When there's peanut butter and jelly...or worse, smeared across a child's face...I'm going to wash that child's face. I know you aren't a child...but I want everyone to "straighten up and act right".

No adult wants to be treated like a child...so I apologize. I'm supposed to be "retired" now, but I go into Mama mode pretty easily. (There is a child sleeping peacefully on my bosom as I type this. Yes, it's awkward.) This is partly for her, this baby I'm protecting. "This" being the concern that I have about the direction this country has taken in law enforcement...and other areas, as well.

About that thirty years ago incident. I was a young mother with children living alone in a rural area. I barely knew that officer. I still live in the same house...still have the same door and though I haven't seen him in years, I occasionally wonder if he or his friends have been out to "check things out" lately.

kaptinemo said...

I was going to offer a rejoinder to the 'anecdote' remark, but Hope did a better job of it.

As to trends, one doesn't have to be in their middle age (pointing to self) to remember when police came to your door wearing a uniform that didn't make them look like Imperial Stormtrooper extras from a Star Wars movie.

Nor did they act like them, back then.

But there has been, indeed, a greater tendency on the part of LEOs to use SWAT teams for things they were not originally intended for. A series of good examples can be found on Radley Balko's Website such as the one of using a SWAT team to raid a penny-ante poker game, in which an unarmed man was killed. An occurance that is becoming all too common.

Which constitutes a trend. Which is documentable. Which brings it out of the realm of 'anecdote' and into fact. A fact which is leading to innocent people being killed...by their supposed protectors. Who then try to rationalize to themselves the mistakes they've made.

Such rationalizations often take the tone of shallow arguments as 'collateral damage' in the DrugWar, while those making them fail to honestly consider what their reactions would be if it were their loved ones killed by police in this fashion; I doubt very seriously they would be so blase about their own kith-and-kin becoming 'Sepulveda-ed'.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Task Force I know all about law enforcement Man:

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-friendlyfire_23met.ART0.North.Edition2.18842aec.html

Now let's see if you can get this one straight. After a tough day at work; left hand turns; right hand turns; this one may take two cups of coffee and another one of those big ole jelly doughnuts.

DEA is getting ready to do a raid. It's there raid and it's in Texas but using SWAT in Texas isn't common just "cuz" someone says so.

Apparently you know but I wouldn't that a federal warrant can be a no knock but you have to request it. To that the DEA SAC says that they had information there were guns in there but they didn't ask for a no knock. So was it dangerous or not.

Well bucko how we doing here. Sounds like the SAC says it's dangerous BUT not dangerous enough so then Why in the world would you ask 4 perfectly highly trained all dressed in black trained DEA killers to sit in the van while a SWAT team that's not commonly used makes your entry. It's dangerous but not enough. Your people wait in a van and they have the same training so I'm left with the thought that this is a pretty common ordinary day to day thing unless your trainging in Mayberry an enlighten the rest of us less sophisticated types.

It's not a no knock so it's not dangerous and they belive there were guns but there's always guns. The DEA Agents carry guns so now that you downed that jelly doughnut and it's Texas where this just aint common. Explain that.

Then it turns out that the danger may be from the friendly fire. I'm not as highly educated as you but my thoughts tell me that if it was another cop that shot another cop that the shooter was a cop and the only dangerous people at the at search warrant were in the end like I said the COPS.

That said, within days it turns out that your ignorance and plain arrogance is now put in it's proper context and in Texas where we hope your ignorance remains.

Anonymous said...

Hope,
what it means is I believe the so called military style tactics used by police are a necessary and valuable tool for modern law enforcement. I'm not making an excuse for innocent people dying, or even innocent children being unnecessarily scared, because believe you me if it were my family I'd blow a gasket and then some.

But where we disagree is where the problem comes from. If I'm not mistaken, you believe it comes from the activity itself, while I believe it comes from attempting the activity with
1. poorly trained actors
2. poorly trained supervisors
3. little accountability
4. rules that do nothing constructive

Fix these 4 things and the lives of innocent, law abiding folks gets much better. Ban these tactics and only the criminals are better off.


I believe I understand where you're coming from, Hope. I'd ask that you not assume I can brush off disaster so easily. I'm merely quite accustomed to experiencing it at the hands of criminals.

kaptinemo,
you're repeating yourself, and you're still spouting fallacy. Anecdote, single fact or incident, newspaper article...doesn't matter what you call it. There's a bit more that is necessary to call it a trend. If we were talking about the "trend" to use cocaine as an adult after having smoked marijuana as a juvenile, I'm sure you'd understand.

Where's the fallacy?

1. "one doesn't have to be in their middle age (pointing to self) to remember when police came to your door wearing a uniform that didn't make them look like Imperial Stormtrooper extras from a Star Wars movie."

Oooooh, I see. So law enforcement duties haven't changed, become more dangerous, diverse or challenging...only the officers and their tactics have. Umhmm.

2. "But there has been, indeed, a greater tendency on the part of LEOs to use SWAT teams for things they were not originally intended for. A series of good examples can be found on Radley Balko's Website such as the one of using a SWAT team to raid a penny-ante poker game, in which an unarmed man was killed."

Again, a few good examples doesn't lend proof to your "tendency" conspiracy. I don't disagree that one dead innocent is one too many, but be honest and fix the animal rather than mislead and kill him.

3. "An occurance that is becoming all too common."

When you see the words "all too common", know that fallacy is on the way. All too common based on what? Your definition of all too common? Tsk.

4. "Which constitutes a trend. Which is documentable."

Yeesh. Arguing fallacy in a circle. Just cuz you can document an incident doesn't make documenting more than one incident a trend...so you therefore have no documentable trend of incidents documented or undocumented.

5. "A fact which is leading to innocent people being killed..."

Whoah, Nellie. Calling your opinion "FACT" is pushing things, even in a fallacious post.

6. "Who then try to rationalize to themselves the mistakes they've made."

Please re-read and earmark whatever mistakes I've tried to rationalize. I'd love to see this B.S. turned into truth.

7. "Such rationalizations often take the tone of shallow arguments as 'collateral damage' in the DrugWar"


"Often"? How "often"? Every day "often" or once a month "often". Geez, man...give me something worth sinking teeth into or go away. I don't condone collateral damage. Never have. But fix the critter, don't destroy him.

And finally, for my new best anonymous friend...just cuz the National Guard sent you to work in the HIDTA building, doesn't mean you know much more than a popcorn fart about Task Force law enforcement. That said I am both ignorant AND arrogant...but I've earned them both. What's your excuse?

Anonymous said...

Mr. all knowing Task Force man;

When you respond with bullets the way you do; it's clear you are analyzing certainty out of uncertainty in which case you always win. That's our point Mr All knowing.

Danger isn't absolutely known but it's evaluated beforehand by the police. Then the plan. If it's dangerous enough use SWAT. If it's not, there's no value to SWAT except they get practice so when it's dangerous they know what to do.

It's the latter we're talking about and what just happened in Dallas, your state, proves it's common. If it's not, explain why four DEA Agents with a whole field division of Agents at their disposal used SWAT but didn't get a no knock warrant.

Not only are you wrong but you're proven wrong in your own state not by the number of times but by the circumstances.

It doesn't matter how many times it's done to be common if it's done once for the wrong reasons. We have to assum we won't find out about the other times "cuz" you didn't shoot anyone during the raid.

Finally, it's obvious you print out each argument and take the time to overanalyze each one so as to justify what I believe to be your all knowing perspective. You really believe you protect and in the end you always use the caged animal story to make your point.

My friend, Hope and kaptinnemo are making good understandable points that shouldn't bother anyone lest their conscious already bothers them.

It sounds like this caged animal is you.

Anonymous said...

If you were truly, at any time, EVER a narcotics, task force, or tactical officer, you wouldn't have to ask, "why use SWAT but fail to get a no-knock warrant".

I didn't expect to find support for my opinions here. It doesn't surprise me you and yours rely on each other to defend your positions..."Hope said so...and Steveheath said it, too. It MUST be true cuz I think the same way!"

And once again, claiming I've been "proven wrong" doesn't make it so. Nothing I've stated has been contradicted with anything but weak opinion. Offer me a valid idea from your perspective, rather than just whining, and I'll listen.

Hope said...

Anon, you said,
1. poorly trained actors
2. poorly trained supervisors
3. little accountability
4. rules that do nothing constructive

The Task Force officers in Texas are always going off to some sort of "school" or "training session" or "convention", as well as having "instructors" coming to their headquarters.

What do you mean, "poorly trained"? How much more "trained" can they get?

Sir, which "rules" must you heed that you feel are not "constructive", if I may ask?

Surely at one of those "training sessions" you could have discovered the reason for those rules or had them reconsidered by the powers that be.

About those "trends".... when one egregious thing happens, something's wrong.

If it happens twice, it would be fair to say a "trend" was visible.

If it happens three times, it's an absolute "outrage".

It's happened a lot more than three times.

And Sir, Don't let your "concience be seared over...as with a hot iron."

Anonymous said...

If you were truly, at any time, EVER a narcotics, task force, or tactical officer, you wouldn't have to ask, "why use SWAT but fail to get a no-knock warrant".

Anyone knows that a No-Knock federal warrant has to be requested. All federal warrants are Knock and Announce unless a No-knock is requested.

You only ask and you only get one if there's danger, enough danger to prevent you from the requirement (knocking).

If the occupants of that house were not that dangerous, you don't need a SPECIAL WEAPONS AND TACTIC TEAM for something that's routine; leaving four perfectly capable DEA Agents with guns in the van.

If you understand that any different than that, you are a bigger knucklehead than I believe you to be.

Finally, we don't want you to change. That is being done for and mostly because of you.

Darby Darrow said...

I am a bit late coming into this conversation, and this may be an exercise in futility, but I will give it a try.

Mr. Henson writes:
Participants in the trade show read like a list of arms dealers. My favorite conference event, I think, is the session training cops in lock picking skills and supplying them with burglary tools.


I am flattered that out of all of the fine courses being offered by qualified instructors, you chose mine as your favorite and a jump off point for this lively discussion. However, I would like to make a subtle observation. We are not supplying them with “burglary tools” any more than a screwdriver is a burglary tool. Since burglary is a crime of entering a building with the intent of committing a theft or felony, and we teach the course so that officers can, in the course and scope of their duties, open locks, which they have a lawful reason for doing so, they are not “burglary tools.”

I realize that there is some confusion on when law enforcement can use lock picking without a warrant. Below is a short and banal list of times that I have used lock picking, in the course and scope of my duties:

1. Check the welfare. Officers respond to a negligent discharge of a firearm. Apartment occupant was “cleaning his gun” and it went off. Officers look through the hole in the wall of the apartment, and see a hole in the wall of a second apartment. Neighbors claim that the resident of the second should be home, but officers get no response. Do we have a right to enter the second apartment? I believe so. Do we have a duty to check the welfare of the second apartment dweller? Once again I say yes. Do we need a warrant? How many people would be screaming, if we allowed someone to bleed to death, while the officers sat around eating donuts while waiting for a telephonic warrant? Many. In the old days, if all of the doors and windows are locked and we couldn’t get a manager with a passkey, we would force entry through a door or window. In this case I was able to pick the lock. By the way, the resident was not home, so I left a note explaining why I was in his home and re locked his front door.

2. Hot Pursuit/Check the welfare. Officers respond to a bank robbery and see the described suspects fleeing the area in a reported stolen car. Officers give chase and suspects bail out into a small strip mall. Officers lose site of suspects. Officers then go door to door to each business in the strip mall, to check for suspects and to warn the occupants that potential armed suspects are in the area. One of the businesses is closed in the middle of the day. Officers can see inside the lights are on, the business is not an empty building, but there are no employees in sight in the middle of the business day. By every indication, there should have been employees in this open business. Even though there might be a few who would claim that only a jack booted storm trooper would make entry without a warrant, I feel that we made a justifiably entry, and once again left a note and relocked the door.

3. Citizen assists, I have on numerous occasions open a vehicle door because the parent locked their infant the car.

4. Hostage situations. We have had many hostage situations in apartments and we may need to get into a lock utility room with electrical panels in case we need to shut off the power, or to enter an adjacent apartment as a listening post, or to be in close proximity for a crisis entry.

5. High risk search warrant. Ok we have warrants for these and we usually go in dynamically through the door, but we may have a brief case or a safe at the end of the warrant that we can either smash open, get a locksmith to open, or just open it ourselves. A “No knock” warrant might be an opportunity for lock picking skills. Being from California I have never been part of a “No knock” warrant. I have seen cases where I thought that it should have been a “No knock” warrant, but someone along the way, the case agent, supervisor, DA or judge did not agree. So I have no experience but I can see the possibilities.

Just a couple of other clarifications.

OVER THE TOP
2/19/2006 11:52 AM
hope said...
Covert searches of citizens private property? I suspect that "covert" could sometimes mean "warrantless".


We generally use dynamic clearing techniques or covert clearing techniques. A better term for covert clearing techniques is “slow and methodical.” Quiet not clandestine. If we are searching for an armed barricaded suspect who has no hostages, we will do a covert/slow and methodical search. This search technique is conducted quietly and painstakingly slowly to prevent us from missing the suspect, or alerting him/her to our exact location. The suspect will generally know that we are in the area, because we will have probably spent the last few hours calling them out with a bullhorn. Is it possible that officers conduct clandestine searches without warrants in violation of the Constitution? Sure. But I guarantee that, that is not the technique being taught in the conference class.

2/19/2006 11:52 AM
hope said...

I know they do, because it happened to me regarding something not at all involving official law enforcement. When I asked how in thunder did he get in my house, the officer in question smilingly mumbled something about "Skeleton keys". I didn't like it then, nearly thirty years ago, and I don't like it now. But I guess that's just the way of things.



I agree with Hope on this one, there is no excuse for this type of behavior.


"Covert" and "lock picking" probably go hand in hand.

But I can guarantee that, that is not what is taught in my class.


2/19/2006 11:52 AM
hope said...

I would think that their favorite entrance involves a battering ram. (It's good for the economy, what with having to replace all those doors.) But exploding doors off their hinges might be more fun than a battering ram and certainly more exciting than picking locks


Although there is excitement in battering the door in, I find that it pales in comparison to trying the quietly pick the lock on a door, with a possible armed suspect on the other side.
Darby

Anonymous said...

Covert lock picking could be used to gain entry into a home or business where an armed criminal is holding innocent citizens hostage, which would not require a warrant. Its called the exigent circumstances exception to a search warrant. Who came up with that term you ask? The US Supreme Court.
Also, it is possible, although very difficult and seldom used, to get a covert entry warrant. This type of warrant is used by the feds to install a listening device inside a career criminals house/business...such as the mafia, etc.
These are professional officers attending these classes who are assigned to the some of the most dangerous assignments in the world. Wouldn't you want someone on the SWAT team coming to rescue you from the bank you were being held hostage in to know how to pick the lock on the back door or roof hatch???
Some of the comments on this board are a perfect example of lay people shooting off their pie holes without knowing jack about the subject they are talking about.
We all spent months in police academy, and advanced classes every year on constitutional law. We know what we are doing. Many of us went to college to study criminal justice, again, we know what the hell we are doing.

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