Drug Law

Big Texas Swat Raid Nets 8 Ounces of Marijuana

| by Reason Foundation

By Lucy Steigerwald

Like most initial news on SWAT raids, this report from The Huntsville Item is lacking some of the needed details. Perhaps the warrant was for a violent criminal or for something beyond simple drug charges. No tragedies —not even puppycide — occurred; just an ordinary use of a police tactic more fit for a Columbine or a hostage-type situation, but which is used 40,000 times a year in America, usually over narcotics. 

So yes, in Huntsville, Texas, eight ounces of weed were seized and Americans can breathe a little easier:

“Half a pound of marijuana off the streets is a victory for us and for the community,” said [Lt. Jim Barnes]. “Anytime when we serve narcotics search warrants, the potential for violent conflict is there. When you have the opportunity to strike quickly, we can contain the scene. We have yet to have an injury to the bad guys or us. It can be intimidating.”

No further comment on the suspect for which the 10-15 SWAT team members were searching, apparently he or she was not at home. Two other people were handcuffed and ordered onto the ground. "Arrests are pending," according to the police. Maybe this was one of those times the use of SWAT was justified, except that the right person wasn't there and two people who weren't arrestable right then were cuffed. 

A nearby neighbor was very nervous over these proceedings, thinking they were a bit excessive and dangerous to use for someone who was not there to be arrested.

[Tom] Waddill was playing with his 4-year-old son in the front yard of his home directly across the street from 911 Sam Houston Ave. when the raid began...." All of a sudden, here come between 10 and 20 guys in Army fatigues with guns out, yelling.

Waddill was disturbed and hurried his child inside. But the police were right in a way. This is what success looks like in the drug war. No violence against police, pets, or citizens; no evidence that the police behaved untoward toward anyone. But this is the status quo. This is a dog bites man story. And that this is the worst part of all. 

Police Chief Kevin Lunsford said tactical decisions are made on a case-by-case basis using intelligence gathered from many sources.

“While it is not my policy to discuss the specifics of tactical decisions, those decisions are always made with the safety of everyone in mind,” he said. “That includes bystanders, suspects and officers alike. The safety of everyone involved is always our utmost priority. This particular operation was carried out utilizing officers who have been specifically and specially trained for these types of situations.” [emphasis added] 

Reason on the militarization of police.