Screw The Children; What About The Cops?

“You have to draw the line between your right as a citizen to privacy and a community’s right to live in a crime-free environment.”

“You can’t have them both.”

— Carrie Mills, International Brotherhood of Police Officers

When the flashbang grenade landed in Baby Bou Bou’s playpen, the Georgia SWAT team was ready with its excuses for why they had no choice:

Sheriff Terrell says the suspects are dangerous drug dealers who are known to be armed. Hence, the SWAT team, the no-knock raid and the flash grenade.

The “drug dealers are inherently dangerous and armed” mantra has been spewed for a long time now, reaching the point where it’s judicially taken for granted.  Drugs = danger, so therefore any measures that protect police in the heroic performance of their duty are acceptable.  No, more than acceptable, necessary. You can’t have police harmed, when all they’re doing is protecting society’s right to a crime-free environment.

Things haven’t gone well for 2-year-old Baby Bou Bou since then.

Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh spent five weeks in a medically induced coma after his chest and face were torn apart May 28 by the flash grenade, and his family faces nearly $1 million in medical bills that county officials argue they are not legally authorized to pay.

Since they weren’t wrong to throw a flashbang grenade into the playpen, they can’t be responsible for the damages to Bou Bou. Paying the medical bills would thus be a gift, which would be wrong, an unconstitutional gratuity.  You wouldn’t want the state to do something illegal, would you?

In the apparent hope of avoiding the recurrence of a SWAT team employing the tactics that resulted in Baby Bou Bou’s suffering, Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, has introduced a bill to limit the unfettered use of no-knock warrants and flashbang grenades.

House Bill 56 . . . would, in most cases, bar the use of no-knock warrants between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

It also requires law enforcement agencies to develop written policies and training for the use of the warrants, require a supervising officer to [be] present when the warrant is executed, and requires police to swear that not using a no-knock warrant would pose “a significant and imminent danger to human life or imminent danger of evidence being destroyed.”

Not exactly an overwhelmingly limited law, considering that it merely requires a cop to swear that he was all-scaredy about getting hurt to authorize night-time no-knock warrants.  If the execution of the warrant would require knock and announce, then presumably there would be no need for a flashbang grenade.

If this law, which sadly is being called “Bou Bou’s Law” because they just can’t get enough of naming laws after children who suffered, strikes you as unbearably tepid, it is.  A supervisor has to be present? OMG!  The neutral magistrate issuing the warrant need not be persuaded by adequate evidence of the need for a no-knock warrant executed in the dark of night, but rather need only accept the representation of the cop, whereupon he proclaims, “good enough for me”?  Please.

While one might applaud Tanner for doing anything, perhaps this is offered as a stop-gap measure to prevent more significant, more real, limitations on the execution of warrants that put citizens lives at risk for the sake of protecting cops. Notably, Tanner knows his way around a warrant execution.

Tanner spent 18 years as a Dawson County sheriff’s deputy and has executed no-knock warrants himself.

So this law, which should have been an inherent limitation on the authority of police to do harm in the first place, provides minimum oversight on no-knock warrants and is being embraced by all involved?  Not exactly.  Even this pushes too hard on the First Rule of Policing for the cops to stomach.

But Carrie Mills, a representative for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, said officers already face too many restrictions in their investigations.

“I don’t think any changes are needed because it is not easy now,” Mills said.

As Mills contends, isn’t your right to a crime-free environment worth blowing the nose off Baby Bou Bou?  Oh, screw your crime-free environment; if it’s between Baby Bou Bou’s nose and a cop getting hurt, Baby Bou Bou’s gonna lose every time.  What really matters here is that police take no risk of harm, and if that means an innocent kid or two has to lose a body part, get over it.  Cops come first. Get used to it.


3 thoughts on “Screw The Children; What About The Cops?

  1. Marc R

    Is the evolution of adherence to the 1st Rule based on internet exposition or more polished PBA/FOP procedures? Surely police were harming babies to preemptively protect themselves for centuries but do you think it’s getting better? I’m thinking of old stories my grandfather told me of the Pinkerton employees left alone by cops in a cell with a defendant and miraculous handwritten confessions as the hoses were getting re wrapped around the side of the precinct.

  2. David Woycechowsky

    There are several judicial opinions limiting the use of flashbangs in an encouraging way. This is mostly happening in the context of civil suits against the police. Obviously I can’t link judicial opinions here, but the Seventh Circuit and its District Courts are leading the way in this area (long story short: crafting a rule that the police need to make sure the flashbang doesn’t land on a person before the policeman throws it). The results in the Gonzalo Guizan civil suit (1st Circuit) have all been instructive and promising. Probably not much hope for suppression hearing defendants, tho.

    1. SHG Post author

      There are also several states that have laws far stronger than this, and have had them for decades, to prevent needless no-knock warrants and hence the use of flashbang grenades. The question is why this hasn’t been universally embraced, and the answer is largely drugs.

      The “drugs = violence” assumption in the execution of warrants has overtaken the rule, and judges seem quite willing to give cops a warrant without limitations whenever drugs are involved, which is most of the time. Of course, many of the problems could be vitiated or minimized with minimal advance investigation, but while they have time for prepare a warrant, conducting an investigation that would save lives and minimize potential harm would be too much of a burden.

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