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“It has been observed that a pure democracy if it were practicable would be the most perfect government. Experience has proved that no position is more false than this. The ancient democracies in which the people themselves deliberated never possessed one good feature of government. Their very character was tyranny; their figure deformity.”     Alexander Hamilton

November 28, 2006

Cato Institute Drug War Interactive Map

by Brad Warbiany

If you haven’t seen this, head over and take a look. They’ve compiled a google map where each “pin” is a botched paramilitary-style raid. Some are simply raids on innocents’ houses. Others are raids where either an innocent person, a non-violent offender, or a police officer was killed. Either way, it’s staggering how this “Epidemic of ‘Isolated Incidents’” fills up this map.

What does this map mean?

The proliferation of SWAT teams, police militarization, and the Drug War have given rise to a dramatic increase in the number of “no-knock” or “quick-knock” raids on suspected drug offenders. Because these raids are often conducted based on tips from notoriously unreliable confidential informants, police sometimes conduct SWAT-style raids on the wrong home, or on the homes of nonviolent, misdemeanor drug users. Such highly-volatile, overly confrontational tactics are bad enough when no one is hurt — it’s difficult to imagine the terror an innocent suspect or family faces when a SWAT team mistakenly breaks down their door in the middle of the night.

But even more disturbing are the number of times such “wrong door” raids unnecessarily lead to the injury or death of suspects, bystanders, and police officers. Defenders of SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics say such incidents are isolated and rare. The map below aims to refute that notion.

How to use this map

Click on each marker on the map for a description of the incident and sources. Markers are precise in cases where the address of an incident was reported. Where media reports indicate only a town or neighborhood, markers are located at the closest post office, city hall, or landmark. Incident descriptions and outcomes are kept as current as possible.

Other map features:

–Using the “plus” and “minus” buttons in the map’s upper left-hand corner, users can zoom in on the map to street-level, as well as switch between street map and satellite views. In some large metropolitan areas, there are so many incidents in such close proximity that they tend to overlap unless viewed on a small scale (try zooming in on New York City, for example).

–Users may isolate the incidents by type by clicking on the colored markers in the key (see only “death of an innocent” markers, for example).

–The search function just below the map produces printable descriptions of the raids plotted on the map, and is sortable by state, year, and type of incident.

Hat Tip: Boortz

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3 Comments

  1. Maybe I’m too cynical but that seems like some serious underreporting to me.

    Comment by Nick — November 28, 2006 @ 12:06 pm
  2. Nick…

    How many MORE must we see die?

    >;-(

    Comment by Simon Jester — November 28, 2006 @ 1:28 pm
  3. Hopefully none, Simon. Even though I suspect the true numbers to be higher, this is still too many.

    I wonder how many of these officers were prosecuted for negligent homicide.

    Comment by Nick — November 28, 2006 @ 1:34 pm

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