There are two things I need to update about the SWAT raid by the Department of Education that I posted about yesterday.
First, it was not, as initially reported by the local news, because his wife had not repaid her school loans. It was actually part of a criminal investigation for fraud, probably involving those loans – which Tam pointed out yesterday was a more likely explanation.
Second, the local TV station (KXTV, Channel 10) has posted the search warrant as part of their coverage (I’ve also saved a copy here). It seems to be a pretty standard warrant for everything that could possibly have any sort of information that might be even slightly related to an investigation for fraud involving student loans. If you look at page 5 of the PDF, you’ll see that they did attempt to include “Contraband or any other item that is immediately apparent to be evidence of a crime” in the list of “Items to be seized”. I’m glad to see that the judge crossed out this “gotcha” clause, which would have essentially allowed DoEd to search without any limitations whatsoever, even in the few places they could not have reasonably expected to find the evidence they were looking for.
The real question here is “Why was it necessary for a SWAT team to serve this warrant, and why was a dynamic entry needed?” We know from recent history that these raids often result in the death of one or more innocents. They are, by their very nature, a violent use of lethal force against citizens in their own homes. The police always make the claim that they are done in the name of “officer safety”, yet there is no evidence or allegation that they suspected any possibility of violence from this family even if the person they were looking for had been living there. None of the crimes listed in the warrant are violent ones, and I’ve seen no allegation that any member of the family has any criminal history whatsoever, other than the non-violent crimes the wife is suspected of. What danger did they perceive that would justify such a violent assault on citizens in their home?
This routine use of SWAT teams for serving simple search warrants needs to stop. It’s dangerous, it’s unnecessary, and it is an affront to the founding principles of this nation.
[Source: KXTV Channel 10 website, retrieved 6/9/11]