Overkill. Thatâ€™s becoming the watchword of modern policework.
Take the case of Laura Elkins and John Robbinsâ€™s home-repair brouhaha four years ago. The couple had begun work on repairing their roof, raising it a bit in the process.Â They had gotten the required permits. But a neighbor complained that the repairs werenâ€™t being done according to the historic preservations laws of the section of the District of Columbia, where they lived.
So what did the District government do? Send out a building inspector?
No. The District sent about a dozen police and D.C. Consumer Regulatory Affairs inspectors, who raided the home. With a warrant and all.
The kids were sick and had stayed home from school. And the police ransacked the place, allegedly looking for evidence.
The couple sued, and in mid-December, the court declared in their favor. Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, of the U.S. District for the District of Columbia, ruled that the raid was an â€œunreasonable search and seizure,â€ a violation of the familyâ€™s constitutional rights to privacy. Another hearing will determine damages.
So why the overkill in the first place? Prior to the raid, the homeowners did everything by the book. Unfortunately, that wasnâ€™t enough for one neighbor and a head bureaucrat. Or the police, whose behavior ranged from intrusive to frighteningly creepy.
Luckily, we still live in a country with due process, and boy do we need it.
This is Common Sense. Iâ€™m Paul Jacob.