Tuesday, November 28, 2006

When Police Attack-The War on Drugs

Last week, an elderly lady living alone was shot to death by the Atlanta police as they broke down her door with a 'no-knock' search warrant in hand. As of this writing, the basis for the warrant has not been released, although it should be public information.

The Atlanta police first stated that they had knocked and identified themselves when they were shot upon. Other stories told to the media included that they were shot at as they approached the house(which seems to be untrue), that an undercover police officer had earlier bought drugs in the same house(this has now changed to an informant) and that narcotics were found in the house(a small amount of pot was discovered).

What is undisputable is that a woman is dead, that she fired five shots, and that the police shot over 130 times(according to their report), striking the woman twice. The same lady shot three officers with the five shots she fired. One can only wonder what the police thought they were firing at if they really fired that many rounds.

We should feel safe in our homes. We should know that at least in our homes, if there is some reason that the police need to investigate, that they will at least do their homework before using force to serve a warrant. How hard would it have been to watch the house and see who was coming and going? What of the infrared technology they have to show how many folks are in the house?

This elderly woman could have been hard of hearing. But it would not have mattered if she could hear a pin drop a mile away. For as the police tore down her door, they had a warrant in hand. Apparently, that allows the police to use deadly force to go anywhere at anytime, regardless of what the potential crime is they hope to uncover. It does not seem that the risk was worth the reward if three cops could have been killed for the recovery of a small amount of pot. Are we really sending police into situations like this for such a small potential of a crime.

If I were a family member of one of these officers, I would have to ask what in the hell is going on there. I would want to know why no common sense is being applied.

There have been numerous stories in the Atlanta paper recently about break ins and attacks against women in the last few weeks. Imagine you are sitting alone, in your home, watching a movie, or perhaps napping, or in the laundry, when suddenly you hear your front door, burglar bars and all being torn off the hinges. How are you going to react?

I do not care if the word police is written across a vest. How hard is that to duplicate? It's dark outside, I live alone, and I am expecting no one. It should be very reasonable to believe that anyone breaking into my home is going to be a threat for me. And the older I am, the more I realize that if they get to me, they will certainly overpower me.

Which brings me to this point- the war on drugs is a waste. It wastes lives, time, and money. How many more police and innocent people will we allow to be sacrificed for the greater good to win this war on drugs? How much time in the courts and elsewhere must we spend pursuing individuals that should have the right to use drugs if they so desire? Have you tried to get allergy pills at the drugstore lately? How many are wasting time everyday following these new laws that do everything but fingerprint you for a box of allergy pills? How much money are we wasting by incarcerating drug users who are harming no one but themselves?

There was a time in this country when we believed that we would rather let ten criminals go free than wrongly convict one innocent person. That no longer seems to be the case. We have no problem sacrificing innocent people if we have the possibility of catching one person we have decided who is doing wrong. And this philosophy starts with President Bush and his war on terrorism all the way down to the Atlanta City Police and it's war on drugs. There is not a problem with trampling the rights of innocent individuals if it is for the greater good.

All too often, I have heard you have nothing to worry about if you are not doing anything illegal. That sounds great in theory. But who will stand with you when they tear your door down, and you have kids inside, and a gunshot on the tv is mistaken for a shot at the police? Apologies will not bring anyone back to life.

If someone tears your door off late at night, how will you respond? Will you protect yourself and your family? Or will you check and see if they really are police before responding? If they are not police, then for you, it will be too late.



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