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.]