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High School Kids Today...

| 11 Comments | 2 TrackBacks
Read this article on CNN or this one at the Charleston Post and Courier (intrusive registration required) about a weapons-drawn sweep by local police looking for drug dealers at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C., in which children in a hallway were arrested (sorry, when you're detained by a LEO(Law Enforcement Officer), it meets the standards of an arrest) without probable cause while the police searched them and their possessions for drugs with a dog. My primary response is to project my reaction had it been my son's high school, and had my son faced officers with weapons in low-ready who told him to sit with his back to the wall and put his hands on his head. It wouldn't be pretty. it would probably start with a lawsuit against the school, the department, and the local government, and end with a movement to recall any and all of the local officials to whom the police chief of that agency reports. They could fire him, and maybe then I'd back off...
As someone who shoots, I've learned a healthy respect for what it means to have a loaded weapon out and in my hand. I have trained with enough LEO's and military to have heard the horror stories - a SWAT officer in Ventura County mistakenly shot and killed by his partner in the course of a raid; a young actor at a Halloween party shot and killed by an officer who saw him holding an all-too-real prop gun. I've heard about accidents in which Negligent Discharges (there are no Accidental Discharges) put rounds into handcuffed suspects, and accidents in training where experienced officers accidentally shoot into the ground, sending lethal spall and ricochet fragments scattering through a room. And that's only on the partial issue of the decision by the officers to draw their weapons. The notion that they could cordon off a part of a school, detain everyone there, and on unsubstantiated rumor, search each of them is outrageous. It violates everything I know about our relation as citizens - not suspects - to the power of the state. Fortunately, others are unhappy as well.
As police struggled to calm a growing firestorm over their drug raid at Stratford High School, state investigators Friday began probing why officers charged into a crowded hallway with guns drawn while students cowered in fear. After watching a surveillance videotape of the Wednesday raid, Solicitor Ralph Hoisington asked the State Law Enforcement Division to look into possible police misconduct in the operation. He called for the probe after consulting with Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt. "I don't think there's anything wrong at all with law enforcement addressing a problem in a high school, but I have serious concerns about the need for restraining students and drawing weapons," Hoisington said. "I don't want to send my child to a school and find out guns are drawn on them. I certainly don't want them hog-tied as part of a sweeping investigation."
Of course, some don't see the problem:
Others, however, say the community needs to trust the police to take whatever action is necessary to address a drug problem that clearly exists in the schools. "I'm sure students were frightened, but the harm they're in with drug dealers is far greater than the police coming in," said Goose Creek resident Judy Watkins. "I trust them to do what's right. I appreciate what they did."
Hope she waves at the Stasi as they drive by. Personally, I hope someone sues. I'll even try and stir up some folks in the tactical shooting community to testify as expert witnesses on their behalf. And maybe we can do something about the insane proliferation of aggressive overuse by police of tactics appropriate in confronting an armed or dangerous suspect when they are pulling over a family in a station wagon. [Update: Instapundit has a good roundup on this as well.]

2 TrackBacks

Tracked: November 10, 2003 3:35 PM
Drug Raid in Goose Creek from Backcountry Conservative
Excerpt: SC Hotline has the South Carolina Libertarian Party press release on the now infamous drug raid at Stratford High School in Goose Creek. Instapundit has other links and comments on the issue including the CNN story an Instalanche for Michael...
Tracked: April 13, 2004 1:46 AM
Excerpt: Poking with a sharp stick, I am wondering what the hell is up in Goose Creek NC where police launched a full-out drug bust on a highschool campus. I haven't seen the video but I've heard the audio and some...


What I want to know is why the cops decided to do this between classes when the halls were crowded? When I was in high school and they did searches, we'd find out about them when we got to class and the teacher told us we couldn't leave the room for the next hour while the cops went through lockers.

If the police had suspicions about certain students based upon the surveillance tapes, they should've gone to the classrooms and pulled them out.

Is the school known for general violence and/or gun violence? What the cops did was clearly wrong but was their overreaction due to past experience with the kids of students at that school?

Anyway, regardless, heads should roll.

I find myself agreeing with you far too often. Are you sure your name isn't "Armed Conservative"?

But seriously, you are exactly f*****g right on this "raid". Wasn't Hiroshima a "raid".

I think heads WILL roll on this one, and deservedly so.

From the CNN story:

Sims said his mother was "a little angry," but his father understood and "thought it was necessary"

Okaaaay.... Dad knows the situation is bad at the school, so bad that a guns-drawn police raid is called for, and yet still sends his kid there day after day? And do you suppose Mommy can work her way up to furious that the cops pointed a weapon at her kid? Everyone is this damn story is seriously dysfunctional!

Yes to all of the above.

You know we have been through this before.

SWAT like raids and dynamic entry and no knock warrants were common in America at one time. Care to guess the time? Alcohol prohibition.

At prohibition's end judges started to decide over time that such tactics were un-American. There were many cases decided against no-knock warrants. It was a thing of the past. So we thought.

Then came the "drug exception" to the Constitution. And so here we are.


The problem of "drugs" in schools is not a new one. It was particularly accute during the years 1920 to 1933. It was one of the reasons Americans revolted against that prohibition. It is obvious that Americans are not nearly as smart as they used to be. Drug prohibition has been in force for well over 80 years. Pot prohibition over 60 years. Alcohol prohibition only lasted 13 years.

Prohibition causes drug problems in schools. Thus those to blame for this sort of thing are people like you who support prohibition. The dysfunctional in the story are those not even on the scene who think that the police can solve the problem of recreational drugs.

The school drug problem is not the fault of the parents or the schools. It is an inevitable outcome of support for prohibition.


I have dealt with several firearms excessive force cases. Federal law applies to federal civil rights causes for this conduct. The police would have been liable here had anyone been hit by an accidentally discharged weapon. There was not sufficient cause to draw the weapons.

IMO the police and school here are vulnerable to a class 42 USC 1983 action.

Tom -

Funny, was just having an email conversation about this with a retired LEO friend who quoted the exact same section. I'm trying to talk him into being willing to appear as an expert witness (he was a trainer at a major local agency) in this case if it goes to trial.



I was one of the few attorneys in my area who took police brutality cases when I was in private practice, and found LEO training officers to be the best non-medical witnesses.

Good for you for doing that, by the way...and I don't just say that because you're a Slug. It's frustrating to me that on one hand the courts have been such a powerful tool at limiting abuses of state power, and on the other we've somehow slid from that into a place where they seem too often to be abused.

Are you still in private practice??


I work for a trial court now, which required a major attitude adjustment from advocate to referee.

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