I'm not ordinarily a channel surfer, but stuck in a hotel room recently, I tuned in to Dallas SWAT. It's a video ride-along with SWAT teams in various parts of the country — this one was in Detroit. I've seen scarier things on TV in the past few years from the September 11 attacks to the Waco horror. But this one was scary because it was so routine. Detroit cops working with the Secret Service served a search warrant against the house of someone accused of — get this — identity theft!
To serve the warrant, the masked, black-clad, helmeted and jack-booted team poured out of two unmarked black vans with M16 rifles at the ready. You've seen the tactics in Baghdad. They announced their presence (screaming "Police" but not much else was intelligible) and crashed the door in with a ram. In the ensuing melee the house dog bit one of the officers. Whether the dog would have survived if the cameras weren't present is a debatable question. The sole occupant of the house was not the guy they were after. "The suspect remains at large," the voice-over intoned. All they got was a computer and papers. No mention of weapons. No mention of how dangerous the suspect might be.
All the time I'm watching, questions are boiling in my head. Have these guys ever considered knocking? How is the safety of the community enhanced when adrenalin-charged jocks charge into the search site with high-velocity rifles at the ready? And what ever happened to the idea of "To Serve and Protect?" This particular incident looked more like "To Subjugate and Threaten."
I'm no friend of the ACLU types who would handcuff the cops. But these guys needed, at the very least, some restraint.