GUN Overzealous drug war claims another casualty

Discussion in 'On Topic' started by Jake!, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Jake!

    Jake! Guest

    sun-sentinel.com/news/columnists/sfl-flbmayocol0615sbjun15,0,6471138.column
    South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com

    Overzealous drug war claims another casualty

    Michael Mayo
    News Columnist
    June 15, 2008
    [​IMG]
    The question isn't whether a Pembroke Pines police officer was justified in fatally shooting Vincent Hodgkiss in his home early Thursday morning, or whether illegal drug activity was taking place there.

    The real question is this: Was a paramilitary-style dawn raid the best way to go about serving a drug-related search warrant?

    Deputy Police Chief David Golt defended the use of the Special Response Team, Pembroke Pines' version of SWAT, to carry out the 6:30 a.m. raid that left Hodgkiss, 46, dead.

    "We use SRT to serve all narcotics warrants," Golt said Friday. "You never know what you're going to encounter."

    In this case, a middle-aged man with a concealed weapons permit and no record of violent crime encountered his demise in his home of 14 years.

    Jack Cole, a former New Jersey narcotics detective who now heads a drug-law reform group, questions the use of SWAT raids for drug searches. Too often they lead to tragic consequences for police, bystanders and suspects, he says. Especially in the dazed and darkened confusion of dawn.

    "I've never thought this was smart policing," said Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. "It's better to use stealth and imagination, wait until you get people out of the house."

    We've seen this tragic outcome before. In August 2005, Sunrise police used a SWAT team for a lethal pre-dawn raid on a suspected drug dealer. Anthony Diotaiuto, 23, was shot 10 times. Police found a little more than an ounce of pot in the home.

    "That's just insanity," Cole said.

    In that case, two officers were cleared of criminal wrongdoing, but the family's civil case is ongoing.

    Attorney William Scherer III said Sunrise police detonated a flash-bang grenade after forcing their way into Diotaiuto's house. "You can imagine what that does to you if you've been awakened by someone breaking into your house," Scherer said. "How can you expect someone to respond intelligently?"

    Said Cole: "Put yourself in the occupant's position. You're asleep and you're woken up by a huge crash at the door. I know if it was my house and I had a gun, I'd probably go for it, too."

    At this point, Pembroke Pines police haven't revealed many details about the raid on Hodgkiss' home. Police aren't saying if any illegal drugs were found, apart from a small amount of marijuana that led to the arrest of Lisa Ann Jones, 19, the girlfriend of Hodgkiss' son Chris, 22.

    Police haven't said if Vincent Hodgkiss was armed when he was shot.

    And Golt would not say how many officers entered the home, if they forcibly entered or if they used a flash-bang grenade.

    "We don't discuss procedures," Golt said. "But we implement all acceptable methods used as SWAT tactics."

    Golt said Pembroke Pines uses the Special Response Team to carry out about 25 drug warrants a year, and nearly all go off without incident. He said there hasn't been a fatal shooting by Pembroke Pines police in at least 25 years.

    He also pointed to escalating violence against police and the fatal shooting of Broward Sheriff's Deputy Todd Fatta in a 2004 child-porn raid that didn't use SWAT as reasons for using the SRT unit.

    According to statistics kept by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, police drug raids have resulted in 42 deaths of innocents, 24 deaths and injuries of police officers, and 22 deaths of nonviolent drug suspects since 1985.

    "Even if no one got hurt and police always got the right house, I'm just not comfortable using these paramilitary tactics for nonviolent drug offenders," said Radley Balko, who wrote "Overkill: The rise of paramilitary police raids in America" for the Cato Institute. "If we're going to have a drug war, there are better ways of doing this."

    Add Vincent Hodgkiss' name to the casualty list.

    Michael Mayo's column runs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Read him online weekdays at Sun-Sentinel.com/mayoblog. Reach him at [email protected] or 954-356-4508.

    Copyright © 2008, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
    DM_addEncToLoc("Site", (s.server)); DM_addEncToLoc("channel", (s.channel)); DM_addEncToLoc("keyword", (s.prop3)); DM_cat(s.hier1); DM_tag(); [​IMG]
     
  2. mikeflys1

    mikeflys1 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2004
    Messages:
    5,336
    Likes Received:
    0
    Damn...was hoping it'd be the cop.
     
  3. Anders 7

    Anders 7 I aim to misbehave OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2003
    Messages:
    23,359
    Likes Received:
    0
    :ugh:
     
  4. itchiban

    itchiban New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Messages:
    5,926
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Valley
    Not enough details to place fault. Shitty situation either way. :sad2:
     
  5. spankaveli

    spankaveli OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Messages:
    16,466
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    LA. State, not City.
    If they're that hush hush about it, that's detail enough for me.

    Put yourself in the guy's shoes. If someone breaks into your home in the middle of the night (or early morning) how the fuck are you supposed to know if they're cops or poseurs, especially if you have no reason for them to be in your house in the first place.
     
  6. itchiban

    itchiban New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Messages:
    5,926
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    East Valley
    I understand the point, I would react the same way and would probably meet the same demise. But you're assuming that he wasn't a bg. If there was 1000 kilos of cocaine in that house, would our opinions be different? I think so.
     
  7. hayguyz

    hayguyz New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Messages:
    16,563
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    ▓▓▓▓▓
    sucks...i know i'd be reaching for my franchi 500
     
  8. Soybomb

    Soybomb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Messages:
    9,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Illinois
    I don't believe mine would. If you're not hurting others, do what you want.
     
  9. kellyclan

    kellyclan She only loves you when she's drunk.

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    18,944
    Likes Received:
    0
    Funny thing about non-violent suspects is they are always non-violent....until they're violent.

    Per usually, raid a house with an ounce of weed = super shitty intel by some half-assed jocks in a 40 man department calling themselves a SWAT team.
     
  10. Soybomb

    Soybomb New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2003
    Messages:
    9,041
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Illinois
    I'm not sure I follow. Obviously every violent offender has to have his first incident sometime. My point was that having a 1000 kilos of cocaine in your house isn't violent and is no threat to me. I would still think raids like this are a bad idea and a risk for the safety of the general public and officers.
     
  11. kellyclan

    kellyclan She only loves you when she's drunk.

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    18,944
    Likes Received:
    0
    The original article quoted the guy saying he didn't support a dynamic SWAT entry for non-violent offenders. As you quite simply summed up my logic; every offender has to pop their cherry somewhere. Just because you believe someone to be non-violent doesn't mean they'll continue to cooperate with your individual perception of reality.

    If the team KNEW there was 1000 kilos in the house, then yes, it's reasonable to believe the person may unlawfully engage in violence to defend or escape, and thus a dynamic entry may be warranted.

    They obviously didn't KNOW what was in the house with any kind of 51%+ certainty, or they wouldn't have raided a house that had an ounce of pot.

    I wouldn't say they are a bad idea entirely, but they are usually a bad idea, yes. As I've said before, only the most active tactical teams have the skills and training required to do dynamic entries with any measure of safety.
     
  12. idleprocess

    idleprocess Bring a dollar with you baby in the cold cold grou

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,678
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    "world-class" to the brim Dallas
    I can't say that the drug trade effect my day-to-day life enough to worry me. All the painfully obvious storefronts/chop shops that operate somewhat openly on the bad side of town, and more mundane crime like robbery ... that potentially effects me. But I guess that apprehending thieves isn't sexy and life wouldn't be so cushy without protection money from the storefronts and chop shops...
     
  13. spankaveli

    spankaveli OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Messages:
    16,466
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    LA. State, not City.
    agreed. if he was really doing something wrong, they should have just waited until he left in the morning and nabbed him on a traffic stop, not kick down his fucking door and shoot the shit out of him.
     
  14. hsmith

    hsmith OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Messages:
    124,591
    Likes Received:
    684
    Location:
    Your mother.
    I still can't believe people defend the "War on Drugs"

    It is nothing more than a war on personal property, the due process, and gun rights.

    I'd like to know how many times SWAT teams were necessary for drug raids, ie: they came under heavy fire. Bet you it is no where close to the need.
     
  15. Fire Sauce

    Fire Sauce New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2003
    Messages:
    27,465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Hilton Head Island, SC
    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn't a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.
     
  16. D-FENS

    D-FENS New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    5,197
    Likes Received:
    0
    What? Cops willingly choose an occupation in which they spend the majority of their time arresting people who do no harm to others. I can't blame anybody for fighting to maintain their freedom.
     
  17. D-FENS

    D-FENS New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Messages:
    5,197
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are you saying that all crime is the same? That willingness to commit one crime means you'll commit any other crime?
    I'm sure you've gone over the speed limit at some point, so should I assume you're gonna go out and kill somebody now?
     
  18. Joe Somebody

    Joe Somebody OT Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2003
    Messages:
    69,286
    Likes Received:
    133
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Either way the homeowner was fucked. Shoot cop=life in prison, might as well be dead.
     
  19. kellyclan

    kellyclan She only loves you when she's drunk.

    Joined:
    May 16, 2001
    Messages:
    18,944
    Likes Received:
    0
    Person to person, we can "classify" crime, sure. Speeding isn't the same thing as murder, its a law made for the dumbest guy on the road; I know this, so if I chose to speed, I accept that I am both relying on my experience to determine safe traveling speed and risking a ticket. Whereas, killing a person who isn't trying to kill you would still be wrong if it were legal.

    But if you're a cop; yes. You have to assume every interaction could become violent. Because you want to go home every day. Most cops are killed at BS traffic stops when the guy they pulled over would have gotten a ticket and maybe a slap on the wrist. It would be stupid of a police officer to ignore evidence that shows there is no "medium risk". There is "calm" and "trying to hurt/kill me".

    But being prepared for violence isn't the same thing as blindly kicking down someone's door with guns drawn.
     

Share This Page