SWAT TEAMS CAN ENTER YOUR HOME WITHOUT A WARRANT
A Federal judge recently ruled that SWAT teams can enter and take over your home without a warrant or your permission. Apparently, police are also allowed to smash your door in with a battering ram, point assault rifles, shoot you with pepper balls and manhandle anyone who gets in their way. There doesn’t seem to be much brutal behavior that’s off limits.
In the case of Anthony Mitchell v. City of Henderson. the Mitchell family sued the city after police officers broke into their two homes without warrants, bullied them and ransacked the homes. The police arrived in the neighborhood in response to a domestic dispute from one of Mitchell’s neighbors. They contacted Anthony Mitchell and asked to occupy his home in order to gain a “tactical advantage” against the neighbor. Understandably, Mitchell refused because he didn’t want to get involved. Nonetheless, the police rammed the door in and took over Mitchell’s home at gunpoint. Then the police did the same thing to Mitchell’s parents, who lived next door. They were all subjected to cursing, threats and physical abuse. Adding insult to injury, Mitchell and his parents ended up getting arrested for obstructing a police officer after the terrifying ordeal.
The family sued for the pain and humiliation due to the various violations of their Constitutional rights, including violation of the Third Amendment which prevents soldiers from quartering in a home without the homeowner’s consent. It’s rare to sue on the Third Amendment, since we have protection against unreasonable search and seizure provided by the Fourth Amendment. But this situation seemed like the perfect example of government intrusion. The Mitchells argued that the Third Amendment applies to the police too, and therefore they aren’t allowed to take over a civilian’s home without consent. Shockingly, the Judge disagreed and threw out the case, ruling that the Third Amendment only applies to the military.
This case is a scary demonstration of the power the government has over us. The police acted in an unbelievably intrusive and abusive manner, with no repercussions. Even though the Third Amendment specifically says “soldiers” it should apply to all agents of the government, not just the military. After all, SWAT teams are no different than the military in that regard, especially with the recent increase in militarization of police forces. Police now have access to armored vehicles, assault rifles, sophisticated riot gear and are highly trained in tactical maneuvers, just like the military. If a state or local government wants to order a SWAT team to take over a private home, it is no different than putting a National Guard unit there. Essentially the different agencies are one and the same. It’s crazy to say that no municipal police force could qualify as a military unit.
It sounds to me like the government is manipulating the system by mere semantics. If an activity is illegal for the military, then it should be illegal for all branches of government. This is about the rights and protections of innocent civilians. Abuse of power is an abuse of power regardless of who is doing it. Our freedoms trump any ulterior motive by the government. Don’t trample on our rights and skirt around legality by simply using one group over another.