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by Peter Moskos

November 7, 2010

It'll never work...

The suspect is an armed and crazy and racist murderer. He's killed before. He has multiple weapons. After a tip-off you get a warrant for his arrest. You know where he lives. A surveillance unit outside confirm his presence. Plan B is to send in the SWAT team and bust down the door in a carefully rehearsed show of surprise and overwhelming military-like force. You will fire potentially fire-causing flash grenades, shoot any dogs that approach, and keep your finger on the trigger in case the suspect wakes up in a (justifiably) paranoid haze and start shooting.

[But if officer safety were paramount...]

Try Plan A:
When [police] were satisfied they had enough evidence to make the arrest, they telephoned the man and asked him to step outside his [apartment].

The suspect did as he was told and did not offer resistance.
Crazy! It'll never work! But it did in Sweden. So why not try it? It'll work more often than not. If it doesn't work, you can always go to a barricade situation and/or Plan B. Sure you loose the element of surprise, but maybe the trade off is worth it. Wouldn't it be nice if Waco were best known for the Dr. Pepper Museum?


Anonymous said...

Well I'll be damned. I guess the Swedish police aren't as interested in showing off their toys (Or the awesome power of the state). A novel idea!

If police really suspect violent resistance they might also surround the house and have someone call the suspect and tell him "the cops are coming." The suspect may very well run out the back. I have heard of this method working quite well, and it doesn't involve dead puppies, fires or shooting old guys for playing "illegal" poker.

Dave H.- IL

Anonymous said...

I think the militarization of police is a direct result of increased incidients of criminals who would rather just die putting up a fight than going back to jail.

The perfect example of this is Lovelle Mixon, the convicted felon who killed 4 Oakland officers in one day. I think its better to play it safe from the officers point of view than the criminals...

Johnny Law said...

Sweden also doesn't handcuff prisoners when they are placed under arrest and Sweden doesn't have cages in their cars.

Just because Swedish police used this tactic and it worked doesn't mean it is a good tactic. You have a suspect who has shot multiple people. He is known to have guns and is willing to kill. Why in the world is it a good idea to let him know the police is coming?

We aren't talking about some weed dealer here. I know you don't like SWAT style tactics and I agree they are overused. However this is the very situation they were designed for.

What if the guy had said screw you? Then you have a prolonged barricaded suspect with a gun inside an apartment complex.

How long will that last and how many officers would that tie up across the city? What if the guy stays inside for days and days? Do you want to send the SWAT team inside at that point when the bad guy knows they are coming?

PCM said...

That would be downside.

But I would like to know--and doesn't it seem like somebody should know--how often people barricade themselves and how often they turn themselves in.

And it's not like knocking down a door is risk free. It seems like many of the shootings that end of justifying Tac raids happen because 1) people don't know the raiding party is police, and 2) people are afraid to surrender because they think all those men with big guns are going to kill them.

What if 95% percent of people turned themselves in (And 5% ended up in a barricade situation)?

What if it were 80%? What about 99%? Shouldn't we know what this number is? Isn't it strange we've adopted such a harsh tactic and have no idea if and when and how often it's actually needed?

I suspect it would be safer (for police) if we did first give people a chance to peacefully surrender. And this is something that could be empirically tested.

And of course if we cut back on raids we would bust down a lot fewer wrong doors.

Bren said...

Well, I wonder if a sociologist specializing in police matters could get a grant to find out what that number is...