|residents of Chesapeake rallying behind Ryan Frederick
Recently we reported on a tragic case in Chesapeake, Virginia, in which a forced-entry (e.g. "SWAT") raid on an extremely low-level drug suspect (he had just a few joints as it turned) ended with the resident, Ryan Frederick, fatally shooting police officer Jarrod Shivers out of fear for his life
. It later came out -- at least as claimed by Frederick -- that the anonymous informant police relied upon before battering open Frederick's door had probably mistaken the Japanese maple trees he grew as a hobby
for marijuana. Yet Frederick is in jail facing first-degree murder charges
reports that residents are rallying around Frederick, and that friends of his have created a Myspace
page for him that links to a form to donate to his legal defense.
Good for them. It's tragic that officer Shivers lost his life -- Frederick's supporters have said so themselves -- but at the end of the day there was no rational basis for police to enter his home in the terrifying manner that they did. To be clear, it is a pretty common way of doing things at this point in time -- roughly 40,000 SWAT raids are conducted every year, according to some estimates, and the vast majority are not for emergency or otherwise high-intensity situations -- but that doesn't make it a good idea and it doesn't make it right. Every time a raid is done, the people inside are subjected to a pretty significant psychological trauma, whether or not anyone gets hurt physically. And one only needs to watch the news to know that needless injury and death is bound to be the result sometimes, again and again
Police need to start taking responsibility for their actions. That means not blaming the victims of botched raids, like Ryan Frederick, for the predictable consequences reckless police tactics. And it means not using such reckless tactics to begin with.
Since the nation's police are not about to do so willingly, the rest of us need to organize to force them to. If you haven't already, please sign our petition to limit the use of SWAT teams
, and send it to your friends. And visit Ryan Frederick's Myspace page (linked above) to show your support. (Important: Please don't tear down Officer Shivers or say anything suggesting that he deserved what he got. Shivers was misled into what he did by a bigger problem existing in police culture, or at least that is what happened so far as I can tell. And negative comments about him won't help our cause, but could alienate people who might otherwise listen to what we have to say.)