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Tags police issues , police misconduct charges , war on drugs

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Old 5th June 2014, 10:47 PM   #1
ravdin
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Another isolated incident: cops maim toddler with flash grenade

From the front lines of our government's morally righteous and ultimately winnable War On Drugs:

Quote:
Sometime before 3 a.m. on May 28, a SWAT team consisting of Habersham County sheriff's deputies and Cornelia police officers broke into that room. One of the cops tossed a flash-bang grenade, which creates a blinding light and loud noise that are supposed to disorient the targets of a raid. It landed in Bou Bou's playpen and exploded in his face, causing severe burns and a deep chest wound.

The cops were looking for the Phonesavanhs' 30-year-old nephew, Wanis Thonetheva, who a few hours before had allegedly sold methamphetamine to a confidential informant from the same doorway through which the SWAT team entered. They had obtained a "no knock" warrant by claiming Thonetheva was apt to be armed and dangerous.

Thonetheva was not there, and police did not find any drugs, cash, or guns either. When they arrested him later that morning at a different location, he had about an ounce of meth but no weapons.
When a psycho goes on a rampage with a gun, we hear a lot of cries of "not one more!" and calls for increased gun control. But when a SWAT team throws a flash grenade into a toddler's crib in a 3 AM no knock raid, it's business as usual. No need to question either the police tactics or the premise of drug prohibition by any means necessary.

http://reason.com/archives/2014/06/0...e-baby-burners
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Old 5th June 2014, 11:11 PM   #2
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I don't support meth dealing. Is there a middle ground where I can have fewer injured toddlers and still arrest meth dealers? I pick that.
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Old 5th June 2014, 11:15 PM   #3
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For some ridiculous reason, I imagined police would confirm their intended target was in fact at the residence. Is that cost-prohibitive?

Also, when it comes to drug dealers, raid the houses when they're sleeping -- at 10 a.m.
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Old 6th June 2014, 03:10 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I don't support meth dealing. Is there a middle ground where I can have fewer injured toddlers and still arrest meth dealers? I pick that.
As a basic philosophical matter, do you think it is your right to tell other people how to live if they aren't doing anything that harms you directly?

I agree that meth is harmful, but don't see it as my place or the place of others to arrest people who use it as long as they aren't harming others.



I also imagine that in a world without laws against recreational drug use, that recreational drugs would actually be safer, because pharmaceutical companies would have an incentive to create new drugs that are safer and still enjoyable for recreational use. Maybe that's just a pipe dream; I don't know. Why would people use dangerous recreational drugs if safer ones were available?
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Old 6th June 2014, 03:23 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
As a basic philosophical matter, do you think it is your right to tell other people how to live if they aren't doing anything that harms you directly?
Yes. Sometimes. For example, if I have a child under my care, or even see a child under another's care that is being mistreated.

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I agree that meth is harmful, but don't see it as my place or the place of others to arrest people who use it as long as they aren't harming others.
I'm not philosophically opposed to this, but think there is an element of victimization as well. Would you try to stop someone from committing suicide or mandate seatbelt use for the general protection of the public?

I'd also add there is an infectious nature about it and that users might not be fully aware of what they are getting into. If it isn't an informed choice, that might skew our response. For example, I am for regulating items that are harmful in general and especially if that harm is concealed from potential users.

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I also imagine that in a world without laws against recreational drug use, that recreational drugs would actually be safer, because pharmaceutical companies would have an incentive to create new drugs that are safer and still enjoyable for recreational use. Maybe that's just a pipe dream; I don't know. Why would people use dangerous recreational drugs if safer ones were available?
Other than price? Well, usually because they want to use legal drugs outside of the regulated restrictions. So I might find I like my Percocet and want to take more than my doctor prescribed.

Quality is certainly an issue, but I think uninformed users more so. There's an element of self-experimentation and pushing limits involved. If I like my Percocet buzz, why not add a few drinks to see what that's like? Pharmacology is an expertise for a reason.

I'm addicted to tobacco and I think part of the rationale for the famous lawsuit was the harm to society from all of us smokers stealing medical care from those who chose not to smoke. Arguably, so long as I am a member of society, my actions have the potential to affect others in that society. How much they do is certainly up for debate, and when it is worth stepping in as well, but the idea of never doing so seems too far into idealism for me.
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Old 6th June 2014, 04:26 AM   #6
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Just a few things to point out...

The police knew the meth dealers had weapons in the house. A flash grenade is a non-lethal option to incapacitate people who are known to be armed. The flash grenade was not aimed at the crib. That it landed in the crib was an accident.
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Old 6th June 2014, 04:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by BardKesnit View Post
Just a few things to point out...

The police knew the meth dealers had weapons in the house. A flash grenade is a non-lethal option to incapacitate people who are known to be armed. The flash grenade was not aimed at the crib. That it landed in the crib was an accident.
Which bit of, "police did not find any drugs, cash, or guns either," didn't you understand?
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Old 6th June 2014, 04:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I also imagine that in a world without laws against recreational drug use, that recreational drugs would actually be safer, because pharmaceutical companies would have an incentive to create new drugs that are safer and still enjoyable for recreational use. Maybe that's just a pipe dream; I don't know. Why would people use dangerous recreational drugs if safer ones were available?
I'm in agreement with you about allowing people to do what they want provided they aren't harming others, however I think the above is a bit naive. If recreational drugs were perfectly legal, I could see a few companies producing compounds that were deliberately and massively addictive and in addition, I don't think that you could ever completely destroy the black market for drugs.

It's all pure speculation of course, but I have a feeling that legalization wouldn't be the silver bullet you appear to be painting it as here (I apologise if I'm characterising your point here).
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Old 6th June 2014, 05:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I don't support meth dealing. Is there a middle ground where I can have fewer injured toddlers and still arrest meth dealers? I pick that.
Well you could do it like police was doing it 20 years ago : instead of using a no knock warrant and kill the dog and burn the toddler on an informant info, you could investigate, watch the place, and build a case, and really determine if you really need to break in like an mini army.

very obviously in this case there was no investigation in before hand whatsoever.

But, hey That's my two cents.
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Old 6th June 2014, 05:10 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by BardKesnit View Post
Just a few things to point out...

The police knew the meth dealers had weapons in the house. A flash grenade is a non-lethal option to incapacitate people who are known to be armed. The flash grenade was not aimed at the crib. That it landed in the crib was an accident.
No they did not KNEW it, they supposed it from the "confidential informant" statement.

Again, they did not do any investigation beside what the "informant" told them.
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Old 6th June 2014, 05:13 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
I'm in agreement with you about allowing people to do what they want provided they aren't harming others, however I think the above is a bit naive. If recreational drugs were perfectly legal, I could see a few companies producing compounds that were deliberately and massively addictive and in addition, I don't think that you could ever completely destroy the black market for drugs.

It's all pure speculation of course, but I have a feeling that legalization wouldn't be the silver bullet you appear to be painting it as here (I apologise if I'm characterising your point here).
I agree, one should only see the live black market for cigarettes for examples, still existing.

But whereas I agree that the black market would not be gone, it would not be as huge and would certainly not be as lucrative, or even as dangerous, and we would certainly not legally destroy the lives of people just because they are using drugs, and the drug quality would be controlled, all of which out-weight IMHO the "but the black market would not be gone".
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Old 6th June 2014, 05:48 AM   #12
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Or they could have waited and picked this guy up when he went to the store or something, no fuss and (hopefully) no mess. But no, they had to get that meth dealer at 3am.
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Old 6th June 2014, 05:54 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
Well you could do it like police was doing it 20 years ago : instead of using a no knock warrant and kill the dog and burn the toddler on an informant info, you could investigate, watch the place, and build a case, and really determine if you really need to break in like an mini army.

very obviously in this case there was no investigation in before hand whatsoever.

But, hey That's my two cents.
Yea, but that's nowhere near as fun!
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Old 6th June 2014, 06:12 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
Well you could do it like police was doing it 20 years ago : instead of using a no knock warrant and kill the dog and burn the toddler on an informant info, you could investigate, watch the place, and build a case, and really determine if you really need to break in like an mini army.

very obviously in this case there was no investigation in before hand whatsoever.

But, hey That's my two cents.
Three problems with that:

1. It requires effort.
2. It doesn't let cops use their fancy toys.
3. What, are you pro-drug or something?
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Old 6th June 2014, 06:46 AM   #15
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I get the idea that legalization would reduce the violent crime. But when I imagine a corporation getting their paws on something like meth... well, I don't trust them much either, and they are quite good at expanding markets. Enhanced Boost Energy Drink anyone?
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Old 6th June 2014, 06:52 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Cleon View Post
Three problems with that:

1. It requires effort.
2. It doesn't let cops use their fancy toys.
3. What, are you pro-drug or something?
It also costs more to stake out a house for a week than going in on probable cause.

And how many no- knock warrants do you suppose are conducted every singe day that we never hear about? More than you think.
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Old 6th June 2014, 07:28 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by ApolloGnomon View Post
...And how many no-knock warrants do you suppose are conducted every single day that we never hear about? More than you think.
Police have to get a judge to issue a warrant before conducting a no-knock search, however there are many, probably a couple hundred no-knock raids every day.

Quote:
The number of no-knock raids...has grown in use from 2,000 to 3,000 raids a year in the mid-1980s, to 70,000 to 80,000 annually, says Peter Kraska, a professor of criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University who tracks the issue. Link
These tactics can result in injuries to innocent bystanders, but as stated by the OP, given the overall number of raids, they are exceedingly rare. The more traditional method of affecting arrests -- surveillance and a stop -- are not without risks either.
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Old 6th June 2014, 07:39 AM   #18
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Quote:
(Habersham County Sheriff Joey) Terrell said his team made an undercover drug buy at the house just a few hours before the raid.

When sheriff's deputies and Cornelia police officers, who make up the Special Response team, obtained a no-knock warrant and tried to go into the drug suspect's house just after midnight Wednesday, something was blocking the door from the inside. Terrell said they didn't know it was the playpen of the 19-month-old child, and that the boy was in the playpen sleeping.

"There was an obstruction, they inserted a flash bang, they had to push the door open. When they entered the door, they noticed it was a playpen, or like a pack-and-play type device," Terrell said. "There was a young child in the pack-and-play."

The flash grenade had exploded next to the child, Bou Phonesavanh. He suffered serious burns. Family friends have sent up a gofundme.com site to raise money for his medical expenses.

The sheriff did arrest the suspect, Wanis Thomethera, 30, along with three others. He said his deputies interviewed the parents, who told them that the suspect is a relative, and that the family only recently moved in with him because their house in Wisconsin burned.
Source.
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Old 6th June 2014, 07:52 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Octavo View Post
I'm in agreement with you about allowing people to do what they want provided they aren't harming others, however I think the above is a bit naive. If recreational drugs were perfectly legal, I could see a few companies producing compounds that were deliberately and massively addictive and in addition, I don't think that you could ever completely destroy the black market for drugs.

It's all pure speculation of course, but I have a feeling that legalization wouldn't be the silver bullet you appear to be painting it as here (I apologise if I'm characterising your point here).
Legalising certain certain recreational drugs wouldn't automatically mean that any newly-invented ones would be, as well.

If MDMA, for example, could be bought from a pharmacy, why would there be a black market for it, unless the officially-sanctioned product was massively overpriced?
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Old 6th June 2014, 07:54 AM   #20
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Sounds like the cops made a bou-bou...
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Old 6th June 2014, 07:58 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I get the idea that legalization would reduce the violent crime. But when I imagine a corporation getting their paws on something like meth... well, I don't trust them much either, and they are quite good at expanding markets. Enhanced Boost Energy Drink anyone?
It would be doubtful whether any legalised regime would encompass either methamphetamine or crack cocaine (by definition, "recreational" wouldn't include heroin, either). It seems to be the case generally that meth flourishes in those areas where cocaine and MDMA are less-obtainable (ditto oxycodone, for that matter), which is certainly the case in Europe - in the UK meth was virtually unheard of until fairly recently, and is still regarded as something exotically different.

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Old 6th June 2014, 08:32 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by BardKesnit View Post
Just a few things to point out...

The police knew the meth dealers had weapons in the house. A flash grenade is a non-lethal option to incapacitate people who are known to be armed. The flash grenade was not aimed at the crib. That it landed in the crib was an accident.
The police, by their own admission, are not allowed to use flash grenades if children are in the house. They would have known that had they done a minimal amount of preparation before the raid.

Also, flash grenades are not "non-lethal", as seen in this incident. The child is now in a coma and may never wake up.
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Old 6th June 2014, 08:44 AM   #23
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Putting pot behind a glass counter in a well lit stores means that I don't have to make sketchy buys in a Taco Bell parking lot after dark, where I will also have access to the more dangerous chemical drugs. I've been offered coke meth and LSD more than once from pre-legal marijuana vendors. Legal vendors upsell me by making me own a "sealable" opaque container.
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Old 6th June 2014, 11:37 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by ApolloGnomon View Post
Putting pot behind a glass counter in a well lit stores means that I don't have to make sketchy buys in a Taco Bell parking lot after dark, where I will also have access to the more dangerous chemical drugs. I've been offered coke meth and LSD more than once from pre-legal marijuana vendors. Legal vendors upsell me by making me own a "sealable" opaque container.
We don't have to look hard to see how legalized but still addictive substances play out. There are plenty of people who buy their drugs at a pharmacy and manage to get into trouble, up to and including overdose deaths.

Here's an interesting article from last December on CNN about the damage from prescription narcotics: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/14/health...ses/index.html

The headline (in my opinion a bit hyped) is: "Prescription Drugs 'Orphan' Children in Eastern Kentucky."
Quote:
According to 2010 census data, more than 86,000 children in Kentucky are being raised by someone who is not their biological parent -- mostly grandparents -- and many here blame those fractured families on prescription drugs.

Last edited by marplots; 6th June 2014 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 6th June 2014, 12:11 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Information Analyst View Post
Which bit of, "police did not find any drugs, cash, or guns either," didn't you understand?
I didn't read the article in the OP. I was going off another story I read about this event a few days ago. That one was clearer about something only mentioned in passing in the OP - police had reason to believe someone in the apartment was armed. (The fact he was found later without weapons is in no way conclusive.)

Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
No they did not KNEW it, they supposed it from the "confidential informant" statement.

Again, they did not do any investigation beside what the "informant" told them.
The informant had purchased drugs at that house.

I don't know how lenient the judges there are, but warrants (especially no-knock) need to be backed up with some evidence beyond the word of one person. In other words, it's very likely the police did actually investigate.

Originally Posted by 12AX7 View Post
Or they could have waited and picked this guy up when he went to the store or something, no fuss and (hopefully) no mess. But no, they had to get that meth dealer at 3am.
When it is more likely that a meth dealer will have drugs on them? At 3am in his house? Or in the middle of the day? Especially when police knew the drugs had been sold at the house.

Originally Posted by ravdin View Post
Also, flash grenades are not "non-lethal", as seen in this incident. The child is now in a coma and may never wake up.
As opposed to live bullets?

Last edited by BardKesnit; 6th June 2014 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 6th June 2014, 12:56 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by newyorkguy View Post
These tactics can result in injuries to innocent bystanders, but as stated by the OP, given the overall number of raids, they are exceedingly rare. The more traditional method of affecting arrests -- surveillance and a stop -- are not without risks either.
I'm sure all of that is true. The problem is that no-knock raids mean that police are initiating violence preemptively. They ought to be required to have more evidence than the word of a drug addict (who is probably cooperating to avoid prosecution for their own criminal offense) before they get permission to commit violent acts against suspects who haven't even been charged with a crime, let alone a violent one.
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:09 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by BardKesnit View Post
I didn't read the article in the OP. I was going off another story I read about this event a few days ago. That one was clearer about something only mentioned in passing in the OP - police had reason to believe someone in the apartment was armed. (The fact he was found later without weapons is in no way conclusive.)
How exactly is it not conclusive? Not only were no weapons or drugs found in the house, the suspect wasn't even found in the house. Call me crazy, but I expect our LEO's to at least actually make sure their suspect is in the home that they proceed to break the door down on. What if I had a family member stay with me, and they sell some drugs on my doorstep without my knowledge. Is it reasonable to barge in my house in the middle of the night after he's left? Now my life, and their lives are now in danger because no one can be bothered to do a bit of basic police work.
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:23 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post
How exactly is it not conclusive? Not only were no weapons or drugs found in the house, the suspect wasn't even found in the house. Call me crazy, but I expect our LEO's to at least actually make sure their suspect is in the home that they proceed to break the door down on. What if I had a family member stay with me, and they sell some drugs on my doorstep without my knowledge. Is it reasonable to barge in my house in the middle of the night after he's left? Now my life, and their lives are now in danger because no one can be bothered to do a bit of basic police work.
Serving a warrant and trying to apprehend a suspect is "basic police work."
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:25 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Serving a warrant and trying to apprehend a suspect is "basic police work."
So is making sure your suspect is there. And so is making sure there isn't a small child right next to the door before flashbanging him.
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:28 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by BardKesnit View Post
When it is more likely that a meth dealer will have drugs on them? At 3am in his house? Or in the middle of the day? Especially when police knew the drugs had been sold at the house.
So being absolutely sure you'll catch the drug dealer red handed trumps not killing someone, or setting a child on fire.

WTH is wrong with this world.

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Old 6th June 2014, 01:28 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post
What if I had a family member stay with me, and they sell some drugs on my doorstep without my knowledge. Is it reasonable to barge in my house in the middle of the night after he's left? Now my life, and their lives are now in danger because no one can be bothered to do a bit of basic police work.
How are you less in danger if that drug-dealing family member doesn't leave your house and is inside with you and the others when the cops come?
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:36 PM   #32
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There would seem to be another danger when a family member is drug dealing. Crooks come to the house to get the cash that they know is inside even if the dealer isn't there. The outcome of that event might be worse than a flash grenade.

Anyway all the dangers start when a family member decides to deal in drugs.
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:39 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
How are you less in danger if that drug-dealing family member doesn't leave your house and is inside with you and the others when the cops come?
I'm not in that case. My point was I expect the police to at least make sure said family member is there before breaking down my door. And in that case at minimum a gross violation of my rights and at worst a terrible tragedy* can be averted... by doing a little police work.

*There is no legitimate reason for someone to break down my door in the middle of the night so they will be encountering me with a large scary rifle in my hand, whether I shoot first and ask questions later is debatable.
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:43 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post
*There is no legitimate reason for someone to break down my door in the middle of the night so they will be encountering me with a large scary rifle in my hand, whether I shoot first and ask questions later is debatable.
Drug dealing at the house is a legitimate reason. Boom goes the door.

All these dangers get started with a drug dealing family member. How can you prevent that from happening?
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:46 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
How are you less in danger if that drug-dealing family member doesn't leave your house and is inside with you and the others when the cops come?
How is the question you're using to answer a question related to the question it's questioning?
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:49 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by lobosrul View Post
they will be encountering me with a large scary rifle in my hand,
The rifle won't do anything after the flash grenade goes boom. Then your eyes and ears and other nervous system don't work anymore.
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:52 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
Drug dealing at the house is a legitimate reason. Boom goes the door.

All these dangers get started with a drug dealing family member. How can you prevent that from happening?
If you'll re-read my post more carefully you'll see I said, the drug deal was unbeknownst to me. I guess I could never ever allow anyone to stay at my house to be absolutely sure know one is doing anything illegal, so that I won't have my door kicked down and be flash-banged in the middle of the night.
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Old 6th June 2014, 01:53 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by William Parcher View Post
The rifle won't do anything after the flash grenade goes boom. Then your eyes and ears and other nervous system don't work anymore.
Not if they flash bang just inside the door, since my bedroom is up a flight of stairs. And I'm sure APD would see a gun and then empty 3 or 4 magazines into me even if I was totally incapacitated.

Last edited by lobosrul; 6th June 2014 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 6th June 2014, 02:46 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
We don't have to look hard to see how legalized but still addictive substances play out. There are plenty of people who buy their drugs at a pharmacy and manage to get into trouble, up to and including overdose deaths.

Here's an interesting article from last December on CNN about the damage from prescription narcotics: http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/14/health...ses/index.html

The headline (in my opinion a bit hyped) is: "Prescription Drugs 'Orphan' Children in Eastern Kentucky."
People blame drug on a lot of things. But I would like to see hard number that those kids rised by grand parents are due to drug of the parents. In my experience this happens because the parents (very often not even plural and most often single mother) must work in poorly paid job (like serving) with long time. Thus the grand parents used as baby sitter or even as ersatz parent.
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Old 6th June 2014, 04:21 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
People blame drug on a lot of things. But I would like to see hard number that those kids rised by grand parents are due to drug of the parents. In my experience this happens because the parents (very often not even plural and most often single mother) must work in poorly paid job (like serving) with long time. Thus the grand parents used as baby sitter or even as ersatz parent.
Could be, I didn't do any due diligence on the article. But even so, some wouldn't feel comfortable with a drug addicted parent raising children, no matter if the drugs involved were legal or not.
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