Sunday, February 8, 2009

Smokin' law enforcement

Law-enforcement officers often claim that violent, paramilitary raids are necessary even in cases involving non-violent activity because you don't want suspects disposing of evidence after they hear a polite knock on the door. Nothing ruins a good case like 32 pounds of marijuana flushed down the toilet (but will the plumbing ever be the same?).

But what if the SWAT team manages, by its own tactics, to destroy pretty much every scrap of evidence in the case? What do I mean? Try this San Antonio drug raid on for size:

An East Side house was almost destroyed by fire after police used a "flash-bang" device when executing a high-risk narcotics warrant Tuesday night.

San Antonio Police Sgt. Gabe Trevino said the department's ROP Unit along with SWAT was serving a narcotics warrant around 9:30 p.m. at a residence in the 100 block of Belmont when the fire started.

Police had been called to the house repeatedly in the past, Trevino said.

Before officers entered the home they used what is called by police as a "flash bang" device which is thrown into an area, makes a loud bang, and disorients people who may be nearby. The device has been used "hundreds of times" without incident, Trevino said.

However, the device landed on a mattress causing it to catch fire, Trevino said. The officers tried to extinguish the fire with two fire extinguishers and a fire hose as the San Antonio Fire Department reached the address.

The kicker, of course, is that, "It was not known if any traces of narcotics, which may or may not have been in the house, were left."

Oh, it'll be a hot time in the old evidence locker tonight.

Especially if the "narcotics" are marijuana, and they're still smoldering.



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