The power of III

Summum ius summa iniuria--More law, less justice

14 July 2011

Arctic Patriot: Offers alternative to LEO approach to Jose Gurena SWAT raid

Arctic Patriot, verbatim post:

"Leader of Violent Home Invasion Crew Sentenced to 10 Years"

When I first read this headline:

Leader of Violent Home Invasion Crew Sentenced to 10 Years on Drug Charges

I have to admit the first thing that came to mind at the phrase "violent home invasion crew" was not a group of drug thieves, but a SWAT Team.

So, if there are any LEO readers out there who are allowed or willing to comment here, I have a question.

(Non-LEO) Violent home invasions happen in our nation.  Some have been documented where the invaders yell "Police" to deceive their victims.

What would you have me do if my home is invaded?  Ask the invaders for paperwork and ID before grabbing a weapon?  Automatically surrender? 

Due to the dispersion of children in my house, staying put and calling 911 is not an option.

Here's an idea, which may have saved Jose Guerena's life.

If you have a search warrant, and you feel "at risk" or "in danger" with a citizen in his or her home, execute the search warrant when you know said citizen is gone.

They knew Guerena's schedule and his employer.  They could have waited until one hour past his shift start, called his employer (or had boots on the ground confirm his arrival), and executed the search warrant with him absent.

No risk to officers, no risk to Guerena.  Not as sexy a "dynamic entry", but not as dangerous, all the way around (I also can't help but take another dig at that "entry".  You taxpayers in AZ funding that team's training are getting ripped off.  Some SWAT teams are smooth and proficient in operation, but nothing at all about the Guerena entry was either smooth or sexy...).

I hope the good Sergeant has fun at Crossfit this week.  Maybe you should scale back on the PT and spend some more time training your team...


  1. Before reading this understand that my experience can only speak for the jurisdictions in which I have served, and these will be specific answers to the questions posed. First, our protocol actually involved a logical thought process. All of the planning elements of which you speak in your article, e.g. surveillance, consideration of confronting the suspect outside of the residence (which we did on occasion), were considered prior to execution of the operation.

    Second, only very experienced men were considered for leadership positions on our team. Consequently, there was never a "junior" member making any unilateral leadership decisions.

    All this being said, I do not want you to think by my answers I am a banner waver for all, or even most SWAT Teams. In my 20 plus years as a SWAT member I have been witness to many ghastly exhibitions of sub-standard performance in every aspect of the work, e.g. training, planning, etc. I opine that the vast majority of smaller agencies that field teams have no business even considering doing so. They should rely on larger, better able adjacent agencies to fulfill the rare necessity for SWAT. Additionally, it is my firm belief that SWAT Teams are misused situationally, e.g., executing search warrants for low level cannabis dealing, or having two or three marijuana plants growing on a porch (regular occurrences).

    In summary, from one whose been there for quite a while, SWAT is absolutely necessary in this day and age. However, the concept is way outside what I consider acceptable parameters in use and number of teams.

  2. Thank you very much for responding. If you haven't already posted over at AP, I will cross-post over there.

    I debate with myself how much I should be commenting on subjects with which I have little or no experience; so thanks for teaching me your perspective.

  3. Forgive me, but as a former peace officer with no SWAT experience (and no desire to have gained any during the years I worked in law enforcement), I have been up against armed offenders. The four or five times it happened that I had direct confrontation, with guns pointed in both directions, it did not prove necessary to shoot the suspects involved.

    The only reason that makes any sense to me for Jose Guerena - and others like him - to die is the fact - known to me by personal experience - that there are LEOs who truly want to be able to use their weapon to take a life. Some of these individuals honestly wish to take the life of a "bad guy", someone who perhaps might deserve to die. Like a rapist we had in San Diego back in the early 80's who targeted very elderly women, one of whom died of a heart attack after being sodomized repeatedly by that animal. (I could imagine sleeping like a baby after taking out that trash.)

    Unfortunately, there have also always been those who didn't care who they shot, as long as it could be "justified", judged to be a "righteous shoot" by a review board. We are seeing more of that these days than existed years ago when I was still on the streets, but we had them back then as well.

    There is absolutely no excuse for serving warrants via SWAT. We didn't have to do it that way in my day. Even with known violent offenders, unless they were known to shoot at cops. If they took a hostage in the commission of a crime or during a warrant service (that was rare), then SWAT would be called out.

    This bullshit of claiming "we knew he had guns" is simply that - bullshit. We would never have thought of using SWAT simply because the guy was a hunter or target shooter or former military.

    The team that responded to Jose Guerena's home wanted to shoot him. There simply is no other explanation. Even seeing him come into his own living room (if they didn't lie about that as well) with a firearm would have been reason to back out, not have the whole crew open up on him, with that fool jumping in and shooting his pistol after all the others had already stopped.

    There is no way I will accept that it was "fear" on the part of the officers involved, or simply "poor training". You give sociopaths MP5s and M-16s and they will use them. Shooting at paper targets simply isn't thrilling enough. They have to form a picture in their mind that the person they are serving their warrant on is a "Bad Guy" who deserves to be shot and killed. Otherwise they won't be able to justify using the toys they were issued and trained with.

    And hell, just because the guy is down, lying in a spreading pool of his own blood, is no reason not to lean in across your team members and put a few more rounds into his unresisting body as it lies there.

    There are extremely few reasons to deploy SWAT in any legitimate fashion. They certainly are not being used appropriately most of the times they are used these days. And there is no legitimate reason for most of the departments who have SWAT teams to even have them these days, let alone the Striker vehicles and other military bling that the Feds have bestowed upon so many small departments across the country. That is my opinion, FWIW.