AT DAWN a dozen masked police officers, grenades strapped to their hips, smashed through the gates of the designated “crime zone” in rural Pennsylvania in an armoured car.
A helicopter hovered 300ft overhead, packed with more officers ready to abseil down and swamp the enemy.
Their target, Daniel Allgyer, an Amish farmer, was surrounded before he could reach for his deadliest weapon — a pitchfork.
His crime: selling unpasteurised milk across the border to customers in the Washington suburbs, illegal under federal law.
Fearful of being “Swatted” again, the farmer promised to desist. “These big guys in black, with weapons he had never seen before, terrified him,” said a friend. “Dan always thought the police were on his side, but they behaved like an occupying army.”
Radley Balko, … author of a new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop, says President Obama has revived funding schemes that encourage the police to militarise – plans that were abandoned by his predecessor, George W Bush.“For some it’s now easier to get Pentagon military surplus … than conventional policing tools like up to date computers, so obviously police chiefs grab them,” Balko said. “Then they have to use them.” He said that many federal agencies were using powers originally granted for the war on drugs to launch armed assaults on organic farmers, firms that breach environmental laws and to clamp down on illegal immigrants.The first move by Swat teams is to ‘clear’ buildings of people and their pets: they routinely shoot not just guard dogs but poodles, lapdogs and, in a raid in Missouri that netted a single marijuana cigarette, a family’s corgi.’
In 2008 Swat officers raided the home of Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, a Washington suburb, after a political rival posted a bag of marijuana to his house and tipped them off. During the raid they shot dead his two Labradors. The Washington Post called it ‘a Keystone Kops operation from start to finish.’