Wednesday, June 20 2012

No-knock Raids and the Quality Process

To get it out of the way, what happened to the Avina family was horrible.  But to me, the truly horrible thing isn't the details of the raid itself, but what came before and after the raid.

The horror story presented about the raid, the 11-year old girl traumatized and handcuffed, is indeed horrible, but it's horrible because the raid was unjustified.  I would be happy if no innocent 11 year-olds ever ended up with a gun held to their heads ever again.  But it's not that simple; the law enforcement agents didn't know who was in the house.  I grant law enforcement some degree of leeway with regards to safety in the conduct of operations where there is an expectation of an armed suspect.  The normal conduct of a law enforcement raid will probably be traumatic, and we can't expect law enforcement to never make mistakes.

However, the mistakes made here were avoidable.  While no-knock raids have their place, using such a potentially dangerous tactic should require as much care as possible, and should only be used as a last resort.  The limited evidence on which this raid was based should be enough to rule out the use of the tactic.

Compounding the situation is the poor quality of the follow-up, both in the field and afterwards.  If the raid had been properly planned, it would have been obvious that a mistake had been made.  It shouldn't have taken two hours to determine that the Avina family was not the suspect they were looking for.  Further, it's obvious that mistakes were made.  The fact that there doesn't seem to be any effort made to determine what went wrong and examine the use of no-knock tactics.

Looking at what happened through a simplified quality process (plan what you're going to do, do it, verify to make sure that it was done right, and use the feedback to improve the process), it's obvious that the 'do it' section is the only section that was handled reasonably well.  Focusing on what was done that seems horrible in retrospect without looking at why it was done and how to fix it is a guarantee that further avoidable mistakes will be made.

Posted by: Civilis at 09: 42 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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