Orange County FL SWAT team used to check expired barber's licenses

Sep 24, 2014

Instead of an administrative inspector, the SWAT team was used to conduct inspections for expired barber licenses at black and Latin@ barber shops in Orange County, Florida. To make matters worse, at the time of the raid, the police and government knew the barber shops were in compliance, not only because licenses are kept by the state, but because the inspectors- working with the SWAT team- conducted a pre-raid "walk-through," which included checking each of the barber shops for licenses and sanitation.

During the raid, the SWAT team swarmed each business with bullet proof vests and guns drawn, announcing to patrons that the shop was closed indefinitely.

In their ruling, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the lawsuit from the barber shop owners to move continue, denying a request from the cops to throw the case out. They also noted this was the THIRD time they were telling the government not to use SWAT teams for routing administrative tasks.

Three things: First, who, even among those in their right mind, are now going to return to that barber shop? The raid happened at back to school time, so if an adult is either there or is walking by the neighborhood chop shop and sees a SWAT team, with guns drawn, why would they ever, under any circumstances, send their child back into that business? The government and the police, obviously, knew this in advance.

Second, given the fact that the courts had on two previous occassions warned the government and police not to use the police to conduct administrative tasks, and the court order was violated each time after that, why is no one from the police or government in jail?

These types of raids are only going to increase with the continued militarization of police. This is not just because police are evil or mean, but because police departments gain that equipment through the Department of Defense's 1033 program, and that program requires- not suggests, requires- the police to use the military equipment within one year of acquisition or lose it. 

The police have a perverse incentive to use tanks and such for administrative inspections because if they do not, they have to give back some of their cool toys.