Russiaville, IN - A pair of law enforcement officers were shot early Sunday morning while serving two 'drug-related' search warrants. According to ABC News, one of the search warrants was for "Possession of a Syringe." It is unclear at this time what the other warrant was for.
Deputy Carl Koontz and Sgt. Jordan Buckley allegedly entered the central Indiana home after announcing themselves and receiving no answer from the homeowner(s). According to the Howard County Sheriff's Department, both officers were met with gunfire upon entering the home.
Tragically, Deputy Koontz, was pronounced dead after being mediflighted from the scene of the "gunfight." Sgt. Buckley was also air-lifted to receive medical care, and is reported to be alive. SWAT teams from multiple police agencies raided the home after a two-hour stand-off to find the suspect dead in the home. Whether or not the suspect was killed by police, or took his own life, is yet to be determined.
Several years ago, Indiana took action to “recognize the unique character of a citizen’s home and to ensure that a citizen feels secure in his or her own home against unlawful intrusion by another individual or a public servant.”
This controversial law essentially legalized the shooting of police officers for unlawfully entering a citizen's property. The heavily militarized tactics employed during the state's war on drugs have long been questionable.
In this case, the unintended consequences of the drug war are on full display. Unfortunately, cops around the country continue to enforce failed laws that have proven to only endanger law enforcement officers without reward for deterring drug use. Police agencies gear up in military vehicles, and use military weaponry and tactics to combat individual users and street level drug dealers, all because the underground market is ruled through the barrel of a gun.
It's unfortunate to see America have to endure the same mistakes that were made during the prohibition of alcohol. More police officers were killed during prohibition than any other time in American history. If only more LEO's would research Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a large group of current, former and retired cops who just say no to enforcing these failed laws.
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Although it is unclear what the second warrant obtained by authorities may have been, it is unlikely that it was a high-risk felony warrant, since only Koontz and Buckley served it and not the entire Howard County Sheriff's SWAT team.
Is the risk worth the reward?
The rate of drug addiction has been unaffected by prohibition, mandatory minimums and military-style SWAT raids that are riskier for police and the public than the drugs themselves.
Other countries have taken different approaches to needle drug use, which is what we can assume a law to criminalize "Possession of a Syringe" would be meant to prevent. Portugal decriminalized all drugs and opened up clean injection facilities for addicts to utilize. These facilities offer clean needles, which has stopped the spread of disease. Users are also monitored by medical staff, which has stopped drug overdoses. Portugal has cut their country's needle drug use in half since they changed their drug policies in 2001. They went from having the worst heroin problem in Europe, to having one of the lowest.
These ideas are spreading. Currently in America, a New York Legislator is fighting to legalize monitored injection facilities. Opponents say it's a bad idea, but science and research by individuals like Dr. Gabor Maté prove otherwise. It's only a matter of time before these ideas saturate the conversation surrounding the war on drugs.
Punishing drug users has only proven to be dangerous for both the public and police, while only making drug gangs and cartels rich and powerful. It's time that we look at the science and start treating drug users as patients, and people. It's time to shut down the drug gangs that rule the black market like Al Capone did during the days of alcohol prohibition where nearly 300 police officers died each year. It's time to end the drug war.
The Free Thought Project's messages to the Howard County Sheriff's department were not immediately returned.