Most gun owners are familiar with the maxim "Gun registration is a prelude to confiscation." Relatively few understand the role of gun registration in threat assessments used to justify paramilitary police raids.
One member of the household, Justin Ross, was in the bathroom when one of the raiders arrived. When one of them tried and failed to kick in the door, Ross reached for his handgun. After he heard one of the intruders identify himself as a police officer, Ross -- a military veteran who has a firearms permit -- re-holstered his gun and sat down with his hands in plain sight. If the overconfident and inept SWAT operator had succeeded in kicking in the bathroom door on the first attempt, Ross would have been murdered.
The invaders did not find any of the items listed in the search warrant. They did manage to precipitate of well-earned public hostility. Speaking on behalf of the department Captain Makai Echer insisted that the military-style assault was necessary and justified because the department was aware that an occupant of the home had a firearms permit.
Gun ownership is one of the key considerations in the standardized "Threat Matrix" used in planning SWAT operations. A representative Threat Matrix form lists a number of individual criteria that dictate "mandatory" SWAT deployment; in most circumstances, the confirmed presence of firearms falls into that category. This is particularly true if a home has "fortifications," such as burglar bars -- or, in the case of the home targeted in the Akeny raid, security cameras. Additional points are added to the threat assessment score if one or more residents of the targeted dwelling have a military background, as was the case with Justin Ross.
The purpose of the "Threat Matrix" is to assess the danger to officer safety -- not the potential threat a subject poses to the public at large. This is why supposed crimes against police officers, such as resisting arrest, are weighed more heavily than actual crimes against persons and property. Police in Ankeny pointed out that one resident of the targeted home had a criminal record that included assault charges more than a decade ago, but this was almost certainly less important than Ross's registered gun and military experience.
All of the information about a potential SWAT target is collected, a "Threat Assessment Score" is then compiled, and the appropriate response is chosen from three options. The higher the "Matrix" score, the more militarized the response. A total of 1-16 points means that the supposed threat is considered "SWAT optional"; 17-24 points means that the SWAT commander should be consulted; if the score is 25 points or higher, SWAT deployment is "mandatory."
Captain Andy Chandler of the Evansville PD explained to me that prior to the raid, the department had been "notified by informants on the street about postings on a website that threatened officers." What this means, most likely, is that someone read the internet posts and called the department. On the basis of that information, Chandler continued, the department "obtained a number of subpoenas associated with that address," then conducted "surveillance and intelligence collection" on the address and that neighborhood."
They learned that there had been a number of shootings in that part of the city during the previous months, but apparently learned nothing of value about the people who lived at the targeted home. In this case, the only Threat Matrix criterion that mattered was the paramount issue of Officer Safety. As Chandler told me: "Every SWAT raid involves an element of risk, and we chose the method that would ensure the safety of the officers serving that warrant."
This was how idle trash talk posted by someone who piggybacked a WiFi signal led to a raid in which a squad of bold and valiant SWAT operators in bucket helmets and body armor flung flash-bang grenades into a house where a harmless grandmother was cooking dinner.
The woman, Marcella Cruz, was assaulted and seriously injured by Detective Rich Perecz; the man, Michael Gibbons, was forced to kneel with the muzzles of several assault rifles pointed at his skull while Rolland and deputies conducted an illegal search of his home. After being handcuffed, Gibbons was dropped onto a concrete porch, shattering his tailbone and leaving him unable to make a living.
The incident that precipitated that raid consisted of sharp verbal exchange lasting no more than ten or twenty seconds, which was overheard by an antagonistic neighbor. The initial report was that no firearms were involved. En route to the home, one of the assailants was overheard on radio urging a more aggressive response to the report, because the husband "anti-law enforcement "¦ he's a constitutionalist" -- which meant that the officers should expect that firearms would be present at the home.
When supposed peace officers clad in military garb carry out military assaults on Americans in their homes, this does not represent apostasy on the part of our "local" police; they're simply living down to their despicable institutional pedigree.
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