SWAT Team Raids Suburban Family Home Over Teenager’s Science Project

On the morning of April 20, 2012, Bob Harte woke up to pounding at his door.  He answered the door to find a fully-armed team of SWAT officers from the Sheriff’s Office in Johnson County, Kansas. The officers pushed CopsAbusePowerHarte to the floor of his home, then gathered his wife, his 13yo son, and his 7yo daughter together and sat them on the living room couch before commencing a two-hour raid of the residence, all the while with cop cars and flashing blue lights filling his yard and rousing his community.

The deputies refused to tell Harte why they were searching his home until they had completed the raid, but as they were leaving they told him they were searching for narcotics. They found none, and left him a receipt stating that there were “No items taken.”  In order to allay the natural suspicions of his neighbors at seeing a SWAT team raid on his home, Bob Harte had to take this receipt around to show his neighbors in order to prove that he and his family were not criminals.

The Harte’s, two former CIA employees with no criminal records, wanted to know how they had been selected for the raid, but the County officials would not tell them.  So they filed suit, eventually spending $25,000 dollars to find out, because they felt, as I do, as you would, that the public has an interest in knowing whether law enforcement raids of residential properties are based on a well-founded allegation of wrong-doing, validated by the careful scrutiny of the magistrates or judges who sign the authorizing warrants.

For more on this episode and it’s aftermath, check out THIS article at Yahoo News, and THIS article from local Kansas City television station KSHB (which includes a video), and THIS article from Opposing Views, an independent media site based in Los Angeles.

My purpose in posting about such occurances as this one is that I think that law enforcement in the United States is becoming too militarized, and that magistrates and judges are all too often derelict in their duty to clearly identify a legitimate “probable cause” before signing warrants for searches, particularly of residential properties.  However, I also acknowledge that LEO’s have a vested interest in trying to employ overwhelming force when they have a realistic expectation of armed resistance.  So, HERE is another perspective, more fair and balanced.