Most people have heard of “no-knock” raids by police, but many are not familiar with just how unnecessarily dangerous they are. Not just dangerous for people, including children, but also for police. Interestingly, police are typically not held accountable for their abusive and deadly force during these raids.

As police have militarized to fight in the failed “war on drugs”, few tactics have proven as unnecessarily dangerous and deadly as the use of forcible-entry raids to serve narcotics search warrants. These raids tend to cause staggering levels of violence when the stated mission could have been accomplished through patient stakeouts or simply knocking on the door.

Thousands of times a year, these “dynamic entry” raids exploit the element of surprise to effect seizures and arrests of neighborhood drug dealers. But they have also led time and again to avoidable deaths, gruesome injuries, demolished property, enduring trauma, blackened reputations and multimillion-dollar legal settlements at taxpayer expense, an investigation by The New York Times found.

Innocent people have been killed in police attacks at wrong addresses, including a 7-year-old girl in Detroit, and collaterally as the police pursued other residents, among them a 68-year-old grandfather in Framingham, Mass. Stray bullets have whizzed through neighboring homes, and in dozens of instances the victims of police gunfire have included the family dog.

There are many terrible stories stemming from these unnecessary raids.  The militarized police need to rethink their strategy and find safer ways to catch bad guys, ways that do not involve innocent people getting hurt or killed from police initiated actions. Maybe even knocking on the door and talking rather than jumping straight to smashing the door and shooting.

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