Riverdale, Georgia (TFC) – “He was a heck of an officer,” said Mayor Evelyn Winn-Dixon. Greg Barney lost his life serving a “no-knock” warrant in the War on Drugs. A No-knock search is the Gestapoesque form of raid that is now being over-utilized by departments across the country.
A no-knock raid relies on surprise and a violent entry to subdue the subject. It’s a tactic suited for hostage-rescue and not much else inside the realm of normal police work. However, departments that have adopted a “warrior mentality” are increasingly using the tactic, and are increasingly draping flags over their comrade’s coffins. The departments using this tactic take a possibly dangerous situation and make it more dangerous by using tactics they don’t understand, haven’t properly trained in, and don’t have the intelligence to plan.
In this particular case, Greg Barney was an officer who was typically behind a desk. He tagged along on a raid conducted by two departments. He didn’t wear a bulletproof vest. The SWAT team from a different department made the entry, surprising the occupants and triggering their “fight or flight” reflex. One ran through the backdoor of the residence and attempted to flee. Barney gave chase and was shot and killed.
The department is just as much responsible for this man’s death as the shooter himself. A no-knock raid is inherently dangerous. Joint operations between departments that have obviously not trained enough together to perform a successful raid make it more dangerous. An ad hoc system of allowing officers to “volunteer” to participate in such operations is begging for tragedy. Allowing officers to participate in such operations without basic protective equipment is negligent.
The number one prerequisite before planning a dynamic entry is to obtain proper intelligence, the kind of intelligence that would first determine whether or not such a raid was absolutely necessary. If there is any other alternative to a no-knock raid, it should be utilized before attempting something that could get innocents, officers, and suspects killed. The possible routes of escape would also be covered in this intelligence gathering. Operating without this intelligence will cause deaths. It’s that simple.
When a department uses these tactics, they become an occupying force rather than public servants. If these officers insist on playing army, they can expect to take casualties. Big boy rules: if you carry a weapon long enough and behave like home invaders, someone will get shot. Fine. However, their ineptitude took this combat to the street. Any child could have been caught in the crossfire simply so administrators could play soldier and departments could look like their heroes on TV.
When the FOP remembers him with a service, they need to keep in mind they are honoring a man they put in the ground.