Almost two years ago Jose Guerana, was awakened after working the overnight shift by his wife.
She heard noises outside the house. Guerana, a retired Marine, gathered his family and hid them. Thinking he was defending his house he grabbed his rifle, crouched and waited by the front door.
The noises his wife heard were flashbang grenades the Pima County SWAT team was using to disorient him. They were there serving a warrant because a confidential informant told the cops Guerana was a dangerous drug dealer. They then busted down the front door where they found Guerana with his rifle. Fearing for their own lives, they opened fire. The five SWAT officers took 71 shots in total, hitting their suspect 22 times.
On the scene, the police said Guerana fired first. Tests later showed he didn’t fire a single shot. Guerana’s gun was still on safety. To make matters worse, Guerana was innocent. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department found no evidence implicating him as a drug dealer.
In the immediate aftermath, several media outlets, including the Bruce St. James Show, questioned the tactics used by the police. They were excessive.
Then the department tried to keep as much information about the shooting out of the public eye as possible. The sad part is, this has become a more and more common form of policing following the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then, due to terrorism fears, cops have become more militarized.
It was on display in Boston last week.
Even the Massachusetts Transit Police, which is in charge of policing Boston’s subway lines, carries rifles and wears body armor. Often times, they look like they just stepped off the battlefields of Afghanistan or Iraq. In reality, they are just patrolling the Green Line outside of Fenway Park.
They were there last week, along with the Boston PD, the Massachusetts State Police, the FBI and several other agencies effectively shutting down the entire city of Boston. The streets were empty. Commerce was basically suspended as cops searched for alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the suburb of Watertown.
Their search took them house to house, searching for one man. There are pictures of terrified children being held by their parents as armed men stand on their porches in full battle gear. Their target, Tsarnaev, was a dangerous man, a terrorist, capable of anything. And despite the house-to-house search and the heavy police presence, Dzhokhar managed to elude police by hiding in a boat outside their search area.
Right or wrong, this is the future of policing: The house-to-house searches. “Shelter in-place.” Don’t open the door unless it is a clearly identified police officer in full body armor. Shutting down towns and cities if necessary.
Last week, it was all to apprehend the terrorist who bombed the Boston Marathon. This is why police in New Hampshire have Bearcats now and additional SWAT units. Terrorism fears are why the FBI has a military-style like police force.
But the tactics won’t stop there.
Based on how the Pima County Sheriff’s Office acted in the Guerana case, these fears of terrorism will allow the same tactics to be used on a much more frequent basis. Because, after all, it is a Brave New World.
And that makes me worry about our rights.