No Wonder They "Went in Shooting" -- SWAT Team Had Violent Animated Gif on Web Site Before Killing Tarika Wilson

Radley Balko pointed out on The Agitator that the Lima, Ohio, SWAT team's web site had an animated gif on it which seemed to fire into the faces of web site visitors: Check out Google's cached copy of the page here to see it in context. Since they killed 26-year-old Tarika Wilson, an innocent mother of six, and maimed her youngest son, a one-year-old, they've taken the violent image off of the site, though. It's not hard to see why they "went in shooting" to her home, as Wilson's sister described it. A policing, SWAT team culture that would allow such an image to go on their own official home page, is a culture that is simply prone to reckless, "cowboy" behavior. Frankly, it seems like they were having a little too much fun being a SWAT team. As the saying goes, "it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye." This time it was a life that was lost, and a child's finger. But it was never fun for the people on the other end. According to the web page, the Lima SWAT team conducts about 50 raids a year, about once a week. I looked up the city's population to try and get a sense of how much that is, and it's a mere 38,219 (estimate July '06). That's bigger than Mayberry, but it's not a metropolis by any means. So I think that one SWAT raid a week there is a huge number. One would think one was living in Baghdad, for such extreme measures to be used once a week in a jurisdiction that size. The page says that most of the raids were on crack houses. There's the explanation -- they are using the SWAT team not for the extreme or emergency situations that SWAT is meant for, but on routine drug enforcement. The federal government is probably funding them on a per-arrest basis. I can't imagine it's pleasant to live near a crack house. But the overwhelming majority of crack houses don't have drug kingpins or terrorists hiding in them. The appropriate approach is to knock and announce, wait an appropriate amount of time, and then if the door hasn't been opened, to force it open but to do so cautiously. (Actually the appropriate approach is to put the crack houses out of business through legalization, but that's another issue.) Drug dealers are not in the business to kill cops and become the most hunted fugitives on the planet. Drug dealers are trying to make money. Police don't need to enter in dramatic and sudden force to protect their lives. The dealers aren't going to shoot them, they're going to try to disappear or hide or dispose of the evidence. Last year we looked into police officer fatalities doing drug enforcement, and out of two million drug arrests per year we could only find four of them in all of 2006, with only two of those directly related to drug arrests. In the rare situations when you need a SWAT team, it's important that it be there for you. Lima's almost two hours from the nearest big city, Columbus, so maybe they should have their own. But I can only say maybe, partly because there would be at least one more living person in Lima now if they didn't. They certainly shouldn't be using it 50 times a year. PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION TO STOP THE DEADLY SWAT RAIDS.
Location: 
Lima, OH
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Remedies

There are plenty of different ways to arrest a drug suspect that accomplish the same thing without the attendant mayhem. I offer three:

(1) Restrict the serving of drug warrants to daylight hours, between sunrise and sunset. This would at least allow all the participants to better see and understand what’s happening around them. In communities where this has been done, law enforcement is just as effective in carrying out its mission.

(2) Restrict arrest raids to circumstances where the suspects are outside their residence and in plain view. This would limit the problem of surprise and the people who half-consciously grab a gun inside their home to protect themselves. Had outside arrests always been the norm, Waco would not be the Waco we now know.

(3) Drug raids carried out in uniforms reminiscent of a Star Wars episode are unnecessary and serve only to raise the perceived level of violence in a society. If the intent were to enforce laws with some discretion, then a more casual attire and attitude would reduce the overall national tension in police/suspect encounters, and thereby reduce violence.

Law enforcement in parts of Europe has an almost imperceptible policing profile when compared to the U.S. With non-uniformed officers patrolling the cobblestone streets on foot, policing becomes a subliminal presence.

In Amsterdam, for example, one might see a non-uniformed officer chasing a pickpocket through a train station, only to return a little later to courteously explain to bystanders what’s going on. In America, policing is all “us versus them”, black and white, good and evil, and who gives a damn what the ripple effects do to innocent citizens.

There may even be more sinister motives underfoot by certain authoritarians in power to use the drug war to acclimate its citizenry to ever increasing levels of police state tactics in an attempt to help bring about a totalitarian police state. Policing tactics do tend to vary according to who occupies the White House. Botched totalitarian-style drug raids were comparatively rare during the Carter presidency.

Giordano

SWAT

[email protected] Vancouver,B.C. Canada In the section on corrupt cops there's a piece of testimony that puts the lie to any claims that these raid tactics are necessary.In his statement on why the use of SWAT type raids was used.The officer said:"That way we wouldn't have any resistance or any problems."So why the SWAT team?As the victim of many no knock drug raids I can attest to the violence and fear that a simple door breaching drug raid involves.One second your sleeping or watching TV.The next your on the floor with a 200 lb.cop kneeling on your neck while several others are wrestling each other for the opportunity to choke you.I've had guns stuck in my mouth and been threatened with death if I don't provide information.Fortunately,I was young and far too stupid to care what they did.When your young,you're bullet proof.I understand these tactics have been toned down in Vancouver.My watching cops on television has shown me that in the US it's business as usual.When it comes to profiling and suspicion of drugs.The constitution seems to go out the window and the police on the scene do just about anything they want.The fact that most are scared kids being threatened with all manner of seizures or prison time usually results in the informing that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.If you're ever arrested,say nothing and demand a lawyer before you say anything.If they want to do any searches.Just say no!

that's quite the picture, isn't it

macho punks in action

What a shocker

This is your country on Bush...

bullets are expensive

In order to be sure all 67 bullets engage the body, there needs to be practice, practice, practice.

Image gone from Google

Probably due to an updated cache of the page, the image and placeholder do not show up on the Google cache of the Lima PD website.

As a victim of police brutality, I can say with confidence that it is past time to stop the infiltration of paramilitary thinking into the police departments of the U. S. It is not only the SWAT teams who have gotten more violent. The mindset of violence has trickled and filtered down to patrol officers.

As a victim of police brutality, and President of the Delaware Cannabis Society, I have spoken with hundreds of people in Delaware who have had to face ever more violent cops. Nearly without exception, anyone arrested on even the most minor cannabis related charges are thrown agaisnt the wall, have thier arms twisted, handcuffs put on way too tight, all by cops abusing people as a way to try to socially engineer the behavior of others. The message is clear, stop consuming cannabis, or we'll beat you even more next time.

And for community activists, the cops have gotten so corrupt and so entrenched in drugwar thinking that many cops take it as a personal insult that not everyone wants to goosestep to thier power.

Blame

Look at all the people blaming the cops and not the drug dealers. I feel for you all.

Cops have no clue when they enter a building what is going to be on the other side.

I feel for victims of unfortunate circumstances such as the ones listed. But the cops are doing their jobs, and you guys are making it sound like we are better off without them. I don't think so.

One animated gif doesn't mean anything. This is the same logic that says that a kid playing a violent video game is all the motivation he needed to go out and shoot people. Flawed.

Cops

A cop without a clue is? All of them.

lima ohio

did you know that i75 that is close to lima ohio around 75 miles between toledo, in one direction.columbus dayton nearly the same thus considered a high drug trafficing area .do I belive the police were justified in killing tarika wilson in a drug raid no I do not. but living in a small near by town this is how I see the justify having a swat team as talked about in the beginning of this article .also many people living outside of this area do not know the comments, remarks made about lima.it has long been seen as a troubled area.there have been many tales about criminal elements added to the mix is the racial mix thrown in about the 40's.this once was a highly industrial area. because of oil refineries,a tank plant.and many good jobs a majority which have moved on.but many manfucturing plants still around. check out the history for yourselves.this didn't need to happen.this police officer will probably get by with a slap on the wrist.but until theytake on the real problem listening to the people,the problems will remain.poverty among blacks, and poor whites is a big problem which will only get worse with our ecomony`and the state it is in. beware you have not heard the end of this story anonymous

Get a life.

Ok all of you wonderful people out there who bash cops and hate the way that they do things and hate the training that they are given.... Why don't you get yourself out from behind the computer screen and go take the test. Stop bitching and get in the job and solve the world's problems. Take the time to get outside and see what the world really is, not just reading about it on the internet. Coming from a deployed veteran of OIF, these are simple stupid complaints.

Stop the police

One good way to stop the police is to stop committing crimes, then you take away the excuse to get brutalized? Simple enough?

stop

stop taking away our rights and stay out of our homes or take a bullet .simple enough?

This is stupid!

People who get shot by the police have done something bad, PERIOD. Do we really live in a society where we trash the people who protect us? Police officers do not want to kill people, rather they do it to protect others. Were you there to witness the event of the shooting? if you were, you have every right to say this mindless crap, otherwise, SHUT UP with your stupidity, because no matter what you say bad about the Police, they WILL be there when you need them, and they will never say anything as stupid as this article as you have done to them.

Not all people who are shot by police have done something "bad"!

Just because a person is shot by police DOES NOT mean they have done something bad! If there is one bad apple does that mean the whole bunch is?  NO! If people are crying about this it is only for justice, and had this been someone in your family or if the shoe was on the other foot i am sure you would feel differtly! There have been many cases of mistaken identity or accidental discharging of a firearm of a police officer where a innocent person has been killed, does that mean these people have done something "bad"? Police officers are people too which in turn means they DO make mistakes, they too can have a rotten one in a bunch. And seeing as too how they ARE people they deserve praise when they do right but just like any other person when they do wrong they need to be punished, not protected! Stop putting people on pedastools just because they have a title becaue no matter who they are or what title they may have does not mean they don't make mistakesor that when they do make them that they dont't have to answer to justice for them! I come from a family of law enforcement as well as i have aquaintences who were wronly convicted and at a later time the convictions were overturned, so i have had the shoe on both feet! And even if a person has been comitted a crime does not mean that it is legal to shoot them. According to our rights as a society we are all entitled to a day in court, NOT A GARAUNTED FUNERAL!

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