4 years, 10 months ago
Presumably, it all starts at the top. Individual contributors always seem to take on the attributes of their management, and this is more or less true in government. The laughability index for the D.C. council pegged high when they relied on “experts” at the Brady Center for testimony concerning their assault weapons ban. I have demonstrated that the AR is a legitimate home defense weapon. Moreover, I have also demonstrated that the alleged concern over mass shootings from assault weapons is simply a canard. First of all, there just aren’t enough such events to be statistically significant in the U.S. Second, the expected carnage fails to obtain (for any shooter who intends evil, the choice of tactics seems to be the use of multiple weapons rather than certain kinds of weapons or high capacity magazines). And D.C. officials seem to prefer that law abiding citizens simply become victims rather than engage in self defense (arguably, self-defense is a basic human right).
Emily Miller of The Washington Times has extensively documented her travails in her attempt legally to obtain a firearm. As a firearms owner, concealed handgun permit holder and second amendment rights writer, I can observe that it has been a sad string of tales about one problem after another in her quest. The D.C. Police Department has supplied demonstrably false information concerning the transport of firearms (it would have been better had Emily called me for counsel), demonstrably false information concerning the purchase and transport of ammunition, and so on the list goes. It really has reached the level of professional malfeasance.
A more recent D.C. Police fiasco concerns application of alleged D.C. rules for transporting firearms in D.C. The alleged rules do not conform to ATF regulations for such transport, but that doesn’t seem to bother the D.C. Police Department. All of these instances of over-reach, malfeasance, ineptitude and lack of knowledge and training are enough to convice the wary traveller simply to stay away from D.C. It isn’t worth the bother. But it does show a thematic approach to law enforcement in D.C., and thus a pattern of behavior emerges for the Police Department.
The abusive treatment reached a climax in a recent SWAT raid that Emily recently covered.
While Army Sgt. Matthew Corrigan was sound asleep inside his Northwest D.C. home, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) was preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of his home. SWAT and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams spent four hours readying the assault on the English basement apartment in the middle of the snowstorm of the century.
(This is part two of a four part series on Sgt. Corrigan’s case. Click here to read the first story.)
The police arrested the veteran of the Iraq war and searched his house without a warrant, not to protect the public from a terrorist or stop a crime in progress, but to rouse a sleeping man the police thought might have an unregistered gun in his home.
It all started a few hours earlier on Feb. 2, 2010, when Sgt. Corrigan called the National Veterans Crisis Hotline for advice on sleeping because of nightmares from his year training Iraqi soldiers to look for IEDs in Fallujah. Without his permission, the operator, Beth, called 911 and reported Sgt. Corrigan “has a gun and wants to kill himself.”
According to a transcript of the 911 recording, Beth told the cops that, “The gun’s actually on his lap.” The drill sergeant told me he said nothing of the kind, and his two pistols and rifle were hidden under clothes and in closets, to avoid theft.
So around midnight, the police arrived at the row house at 2408 N. Capitol Street. Over the next two hours, several emergency response team units were called to the scene, calling in many cops from home.
[ … ]
When the police wouldn’t accept Sgt. Corrigan’s word that he was fine, he was forced to leave his home and surrender. When he stepped outside, he faced assault teams with rifles pointed at his chest. He immediately dropped to his knees, with his hands over his head.
Officers in full protective gear zip-tied Sgt. Corrigan’s hands behind his back and pulled him up from his knees, forcing him into a large tactical command center called the “BEAR” which was parked at the staging area.
Although police did not read Sgt. Corrigan his Miranda rights, they questioned him inside the tactical truck. They asked the Iraq veteran basic questions about his life from various angles to get him to admit to owning guns. He remained silent about his two handguns and one rifle, which he had not registered after moving into the city.
Suddenly a police commander jumped in the truck and demanded to know where Sgt. Corrigan put his house key. He refused.
“I’m not giving you the key. I’m not giving consent to enter my house,” Sgt. Corrigan recalled saying in an interview with me last week at D.C. Superior Court after the city dropped all 10 charges against him.
“Then the cop said to me, ‘I don’t have time to play this constitutional bullshit with you. We’re going to break your door in, and you’re going to have to pay for a new door.’”
“Constitutional bullshit.” That’s the way the D.C. Police see consitutional protections, apparently. The D.C. Police ransacked his home, but there is this one very important statement that sets the tone for the entire night.
Police Lt. R.T. Glover was pleased with the seven hour operation that resulted in finding three unregistered guns in D.C. In his report to Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, he concluded that, “as a result of this barricade incident, there are no recommendations for improvement with respect to overall tactical operations.”
Uh oh. There’s that word. Tactical. The SWAT team that night had “tactical operators” who were “operating tactically,” and it all needed an overall review of the “tactical operations.” The tactical operators were likely wearing Tru-Spec tactical pants, carrying drop holsters and body armor, and thought they were going to engage in room clearing operations just like they think they have seen on television coverage of Iraq.
With a son who actually did room clearing operations in Fallujah, Iraq, with the 2/6 Marines, I can supply a perspective concerning these kinds of “tactical operations.” Actually, it is his own perspective. So, you want to be an operator? Good. Sign up, take the training, fly across the pond, and do it for real. If you are a police officer in the U.S., you should first and foremost see yourself as a peace officer.
That night it would have been perfectly reasonable to send over a couple of uniformed officers (common uniforms, shirts and ties), knock on the door, and then communicate their concerns: “Sir, we received a phone call concerning a potential problem or disturbance in this area, and we would like to sit and chat with you for a few minutes. May we come in, or perhaps you would like to come down to the precinct to chat with us?”
But with the increasing militarization of police activities in America, this is rarely good enough any more. But the police aren’t the military, and even if they were, such tactics are inherently dangerous. Poor Eurie Stamps perished in a mistaken SWAT raid due to an officer, who had no trigger discipline, stumbling with a round chambered in his rifle and shooting Mr. Stamps (due to sympathetic muscle reflexes) who was prone on the floor. Mr. Jose Guerena was shot to death in his home in a SWAT raid that looked like it was conducted by the keystone cops. Such tactics are also dangerous for the police officers conducting the raids.
Among the other problems with these tactics is that they are being used as pranks (or even worse) by anonymous callers (see also here and here). Finally, it’s good that Mr. Corrigan didn’t have a dog in the house. It has become routine practice to kill dogs on raids like this as a precaution. Thus, mistaken or not, dogs perish as a matter of course. All of this occurs while courts look the other way and pretend that it’s all necessary for law enforcement to perpetrate such things on the civilian population.
Again, presumably this all starts at the top. The D.C. Council can set more reasonable expectations for firearms, and jettison the sophomoric notion that more laws and regulations make it harder for law-breakers to break the law. Setting the standard for the D.C. police, if they want a safer district in which to live, they can make it clear that gangs won’t be tolerated in D.C. The D.C. Police Department can then focus their energies on entering gang turf, making their presence ubiquitous, and doing the police work to shut down the gangs rather than terrorize law abiding citizens who exercise their second amendment rights.
But such an approach would require bravery. After all, law abiding citizens won’t fight back, so it’s easy to bully them. Going after gangs means charges of racism, discrimination and brutality, with perhaps some real need to use the tactics to which Lt. Glover refers with known violent felons. So does the D.C. council perform for the people as a show, or do they really want a safer district? What about the D.C. police? Do they want to take down criminals or pretend to be soldier-boy and push around innocent, non-combative citizens?