In an excerpt from his new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, Balko warns that law enforcement agencies are increasingly deploying paramilitary units against gamblers, teen drinkers, and other minor-league offenders, such as the alleged cockfighter taken down by Steven Seagal in the above video. And the Fourth Amendment offers little protection:
While the Supreme Court has laid down some avoidable requirements for obtaining a no-knock warrant (or deciding to conduct a no-knock raid at the scene), there are few court decisions, laws, or regulations when it comes to when it is and isn’t appropriate to use a SWAT team and all the bells and whistles of a dynamic entry. The decision is almost always left to the discretion of the police agency–or in the case of the multi-jurisdictional task forces, to the SWAT team itself. The mere fact that there’s actually a split in the federal court system over the appropriateness of using SWAT teams to perform regulatory alcohol inspections at bars shows just how little attention the courts pay to the Fourth Amendment’s reasonableness requirement.
In other words, if the DEA wants to stick it to medical marijuana users because they’re flouting federal law, they can. If Steven Seagal wants to drive a tank into a man’s living room to demonstrate his love of animals, he can.