The Washington Post Magazine presents a narrative account of a drug raid last summer in Prince George’s County, Md., in which officers–apparently acting on flawed information–barged into a home and shot and killed two pet dogs. The case has become keystone example of the notion that the country has been swept by new, aggressive police tactics described in 2006 Cato Institute report, “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America.”
Civil libertarians argue that the constitutional right against illegal seaches has been seriously eroded in recent decades, largely as an unintended consequence of the nation’s war on drugs. They argue that military-style raids escalate the level of violence in what could be routine police action, and are leaving a growing number of innocents terrorized, wounded or dead. “Botched raids are a staple of law enforcement,” said Graham Boyd, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Drug Law Reform Project. “There is a never-ending stream of ruined homes, ruined lives and innocent people who are killed or terrorized.” The Cato Institute Web site features an interactive map tracking hundreds of botched paramilitary police raids nationwide beginning in the late 1990s, including dozens of instances in which innocent people were killed.