Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The Georgia toddler was badly burned by a flash grenade during a drug raid gone wrong. A remorseful sheriff’s department claims they could not have known what would happen.
But such botches are not rare.
The War on Drugs is habitually conducted via late-night, no-knock, violent intrusions into homes. That’s now a main part of the standard modus operandi.
The raids are often based on scanty and unconfirmed information. They proceed even if no dangerously violent criminal is known to be inside. The drug warriors’ primary concern, they say, is to stop suspects from flushing contraband down the toilet, not to avoid needlessly jeopardizing the lives of known and unknown occupants.
A couple of Georgia lawmakers have offered legislation to reduce the chances of such collateral damage. One would slightly restrict the circumstances in which no-knock warrants could be issued. Another would require most no-knock raids to be conducted between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Though modest steps, they may help save some lives.
But the fundamental problem? The persistence of the War on Drugs.
Waging that war permits endless “botched raids” like the one that almost killed Bou Bou. So long as such invasions remain a standard means of trying to catch dealers with their stash — indeed, so long as the War on Drugs is being waged at all — innocent persons will always be needlessly at risk from the persons charged with protecting them.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.