To the editor — Your article “Obstructing officer or just filming raid?” is a prime example of the misuse of power by the Sunnyside Police. Not only was the use of the SWAT team ill-advised, the action of Sgt. Olie Hernandez violated a citizen’s First Amendment rights. This action was then made worse by Sgt. Hernandez’s and Deputy Chief Phil Schenck’s apparent lies to protect their collective behinds.
Really, a SWAT team raid, along with the use of flash-bangs, to recover a stolen laptop computer! What was wrong with one or two officers knocking on the door and serving the warrant? This abuse of police powers by the Sunnyside police is right out of Radley Balko’s books “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces” and “Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America” or John Whitehead’s book “A Government of Wolves.” Nationwide, the use of SWAT teams in no-knock raids has increased from 3,000 in 1981 to around 80,000 in 2011. According to Radley Balko, “Today in America SWAT teams violently smash into private homes more than 100 times per day ... SWAT-style tactics are now used to raid neighborhood poker games, doctors’ offices, bars, and restaurants ... despite the fact that the targets of these raids pose little threat to anyone.”
In addition, civil liberties activists say our nation’s police forces have become too militaristic and are deployed even in nonviolent situations (such as the above Sunnyside raid).