New York Civil Rights And Criminal Defense Lawyers

Are law enforcement agencies becoming too militarized?

On Behalf of | Thursday Nov 3, 2016 | Police Misconduct

If you ask most people what a policer officer’s job is, they will reply that it is to protect the citizens of the United States. While this is true in many cases, growing changes in the tools and tactics of law enforcement agencies are causing more and more people to wonder how safe they really are.

One example, as reported by ABC News, concerns the Phonesavanh family’s experience with police brutality. In the early morning hours of May 28, the family from Janesville, Wisconsin awoke to loud bangs and blinding flashes in their temporary bedroom at a relative’s home in Georgia. Their door burst open as a Special Response Team entered after throwing a flash-bang grenade into the room. The diversionary device had landed in the crib of their 18-month-old son, Bou Bou. The toddler’s mother, Alecia Phonesavanh, stated that the police had accidentally raided the wrong house with a faulty search warrant. Officials claimed they believed the Phonesavanh’s nephew lived at the home and was selling drugs, a fact that was proven false. This mistake left the family with a $1 million medical bill and costly legal battle to hold the police accountable for their actions.

This experience is just one of many instances illustrating the increasing militarization of police proceedings and the risk that innocent civilians are enduring because of it. The American Bar Association Journal estimated that private residences are being broken into over 100 times per day by law enforcement SWAT teams. The Journal states that agencies are being trained in SWAT tactics formerly used only as a last resort but now employed for low-threat crimes. Many times a simple search warrant can be used instead of the dangerous, destructive methods that have become common.

The state of New York has seen several cases of police brutality in recent years. Crimes often involve mistakes on the part of the police officer. During the Crown Heights riot in 1991, a police officer mistook a nursing home porter for a rioter and brutally beat him. Another inmate was retained in solitary confinement and beaten by corrections officers, all under false charges. These cases show just a few cases of how the justice system can sometimes fail and advancing militarization of police agencies can lead to unnecessary and sometimes unjustified violence. Both of these cases were settled in court for more than $1 million on behalf of the person injured. If you have experienced police violence, contact an attorney experienced in fighting for the rights of those harmed by the justice system.