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caught on tape: authority behaving badly

[click for bigger image]Goose Creek, South Carolina: Gun-toting police burst into a South Carolina high school, ordering students to lie down in hall ways as they searched for drugs.

They were looking for prescription drugs and marijuana. They found nothing. At the principal's request, the police came into the high school for a drug sweep with guns drawn, ordering students to get on the ground. Guns were pointed directly at the kids [You can see the video here. Watch it.]

The school's principal defends the dramatic sweep, caught on the school's surveillance tape. Police came into the school with guns at the ready, ordered all students to lie on the floor and then handcuffed anyone who apparently didn't comply quickly enough.

"We received reports from staff members and students that there was a lot of drug activity. Recently we busted a student for having over 300 plus prescription pills. The volume and the amount of marijuana coming into the school is unacceptable," said principal George McCrackin.

It looks to me like the police came in with an "everybody's guilty until proven otherwise" stance. Were the handcuffs and guns necessary for a potential marijuana bust?

If this happened at my child's school I would be raising holy hell. Not only would I want the police department to account for their over-zealous actions, I would also ask that the principal be fired. If he has lost control of his school to the point that drug dealing is rampant, then he should find another way to deal with the problem - one that doesn't include guns and handcuffs for innocent kids.

The Post And Courier newspaper in Charleston reports the high school is one of the largest in the state with 2,760 students. It has an academic reputation as one of the Lowcountry's best.

So, there are almost 3,000 kids in the school and probably a handful of them are dealing/using recreational drugs. What's a prinicpal to do? How about trying to root out the kids who are actually doing the dealing? The school does have survelliance cameras. But....

The paper quoted Lt. Dave Aarons of the Goose Creek Police Department as saying that the suspected drug dealers appeared to be knowledgeable about where the school surveillance cameras were. He said he watched school surveillance tapes from four days that showed students congregating under cameras, periodically walking into a bathroom with different students and coming out moments later.

So they know where the kids who are dealing are doing it. They know where the kids who are buying are doing it. From the tapes, they can probably figure out the most popular times for the students to head into the bathrooms to make their deals.

Not only that, but if they were able to watch the tapes as the deals happened, what would stop them from going into the bathroom right after the kids on the camera went in and trying to bust them in action?

Now they have undone years of training the students to trust Mr. Policeman, he is your friend. They have unecessarily frightened innocent kids.

The most disturbing part of this is that neither the principals nor the police department see anything wrong with their actions.


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference caught on tape: authority behaving badly:

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» Heads should roll from .:/One Little Victory\:.
...for the episode at a Goose Creek, SC high school. Michele has a good discussion going on over at her place, and the Instapundit has got some details as well. This guy also seems to have some knowledge of the... [Read More]


I don't even have a kid at that school (nor a kid at all), but those images make me feel like raising holy hell. what person could think that this was a good idea?

Considering guns and weapons brought on school property by students these days, I'm not entirely convinced this wasn't a reasonable tactic by these officers.

Not to say I wouldn't want to string someone up by the balls who laid my kids out and pointed a gun at them.

Tough call.

The fact nothing was found is inconsequential. Probable cause was there.

Well. I live in a large apartment complex. I have never done drugs in my life. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if a lot of residents here own firearms. By your criteria I guess it would be okay for the Orlando PD to raid and lock down the entire apartment complex when they were after someone whose apartment number they knew.


the school is public property and the kids have no expectation of privacy rights and the principal is in charge.

different from your apartment and apartment building.

Maybe. What apartment complex is it?

I've heard the "school is public property" line before and I don't buy it. Kids are forced by the government to go to school. Yes, there are private schools, but only for people who can afford to pay double for education (paying for the local public school + private school tuition).

So saying "It's public property, the principle controls what goes on there" is kind of specious. Like saying "You have constitutional rights, except you have to spend six hours a day in this building where you don't." Umm... yeah.

It was bad enough when the police (and security guards) went around searching everyone's lockers and cars while they were at school, this is just ridiculous. A scare tactic.

The lawsuits should fall like snowflakes in a blizzard. There are strict rules for the threat of deadly force in law enforcement. I couldn't go around pointing my sidearm at random people, had I done so I would have been brought up on departmental charges and probably indicted.
I've been on a couple of those sweeps, bring in the sniffer dogs, go through the place, so far, so good. Perfectly legal, there's no right to privacy in a government facility. What isn't proper procedure is putting everybody on the floor and waving guns around. The dog reacts to an individual, you deal with the individual.
Pointing a gun at someone is assault with a deadly weapon, a felony. Police have a bit of leeway, I was able to draw down on somebody if I had a reasonable belief that they were armed but I had to justify that belief to my superiors and the civilian authorities. Hell, when cell phones were new and big I got days off (a suspension) because I reacted to a bulge under a jacket and put a businesman into felony prone during a routine traffic stop.

Once again we see zero tolerance in action.
I'm all for beating the s**t out of the stupid kids that sell the stuff, hell, blow thier heads off, but this was really pathetic. Yeah, school is a public place, but to assume everyone is guilty until proven innocent is not the right way to go about it.

Although I would like to point this one thing out. If they had gone in and arrested specific kids, they would have been sued for racial profiling (regardless of color) or something stupid like that.

I went to a high school very close to there (Goose Creek Sr. High) and having the police show up on occassion was not unusual for us. Back then, it was always because of "race riots". The worst one that I can recall was when two white guys got into a fight in the lunchroom over who was sitting in who's chair. A punch was thrown and the next thing I knew the "white" side of the lunchroom clashed hard with the "black" side of the lunchroom. Metal folding chairs were flying through the air and there were even some stabbings with the lunchroom forks. This was in the mid 70s and I guess you might say that the situation was tense. All the time! But those Goose Creek cops were always fast to act. I haven't been back to that part of the country for many years, but it's interesting that the police are still acting the same.

"I've heard the 'school is public property' line before and I don't buy it. Kids are forced by the government to go to school."

I'm not sure what there is to "buy". Public schools ARE public places. Don't like it? Private school or home-school. I'm not sure these were the best tactics to use, but I certainly don't think that the kids should be given any expectation of privacy.

Every single incident like this one will reveal the War on Drugs as a case of "Reefer Madness"-style nonsense writ large, and will bring the public that much closer to demanding the legalization of pot, if nothing else.

Full disclosure: I have never used marijuana in my life, and have no plans to even if it is legalized.

As a parent, I would have this princpal's head on a silver platter. There is NO reason for this sort of raid on a school short of another Columbine style shooting. Can you imagine the fear and resentment these kids are going to feel, and for what reason? Because the principal doen't know how to do his job. Use the tapes, they had informents, talk to the teachers that know the kids, offer rewards, but don't give innocent kids nightmares for the rest of their lives for nothing. I hope this guy gets sh*tcanned. He deserves it.


I don't often say things like this in comments boards, but you evoked special feelings.

You're insane, and you need to move to Cuba, or some other country where opponents of freedom and liberty congregate.

Thank you for your time. When I return from Iraq, I'll buy you a one-way ticket if you can't afford one now.


"I certainly don't think that the kids should be given any expectation of privacy."

What the hell does privacy have to do with pointing guns at innocent kids? Turning our schools into prisons is going to teach kids something, but it damn sure won't be a lesson of respect for authority or our Constitutional system. It's easy to glibly dismiss an incident like this - unless YOU happened to be the innocent person staring down the barrel of an assault weapon.

Anyone who knows anything about handling guns knows that the most important rule of conduct is NEVER pointing a gun at anyone you're not prepared to justifiably shoot. There is absolutely no defense for the reckless conduct of this idiotic raid.

Anybody read about the principal of the school over at Instapundit? The guy is a literal nutjob. A reader, who says he knows the principal, says that the guy started expelling A students for failing to tuck in their shirts. I think this is an example of a psuedo-fascist principal and Sheriff's office with a poor grasp of the Constitution, rather than The Gubmint's Jack-Booted Thugs coming for our rights. At least I hope so.

Anna, don't be throwing around legal terms when you have no idea what they mean. Probable cause runs to a specific individual or narrowly targeted group of individuals, not an entire building. There is no way they had probable cause as against every student, or even the vast majority of the students in that school.

There may not be a right to privacy in the school, but there sure as hell is a right not to be detained in such a manner without probable cause, which did NOT exist here. By the "public place" logic, and cop can stop you walking down the street and throw you to the sidewalk and perform a strip search based on not liking your face. We don't live like that here.

I was going to say "privacy? who the f- said anything about privacy?" but some of you other guys beat me to it.

And you know, all you "this is no big deal the kids can be treated this way" folks can go to blazes. Parents send their kids to school with at least the expectation that the police won't be carrying out commando raids on the whole school for the actions of a known few -- or did you skip reading the bit where Michele pointed out that they apparently knew who the kids were and where they were dealing?

Heads should roll for this.

I've been upset since I saw the pictures of the cops pointing their guns at the children. These were NOT junkies and drug dealers being raided in a well-known drug neighborhood. This was the cops treating high school kids like junkies and drug dealers.

I'd sue the shit out of that principal AND go after the police chief's ass as well.

I'm with Meryl. This is not only illegal behavior on the part of the cops, it's also farking dangerous in the short term and corrosive of respect for adults AND law enforcement in the long term.

Ah, Michele. I think you already know my position on this, but suffice to say, I must have missed this during my childhood:

Now they have undone years of training the students to trust Mr. Policeman, he is your friend.

To me this is par for the course. Small town police, heck, even middle sized town police are best left to their speed traps and nothing more.

Private schools and homeschooling are simply not options for most people who don't have the time or the money for it.

Did someone dial Reno-911?

And after all that they didn't find any drugs! I can only echo the comment of Instapundit reader Aaron Hegeman:
[H]ow stupid do you have to be to raid a high school and actually not find any drugs? That's like busting into a fraternity party with beer-sniffing dogs and not finding a keg."

Exactly! Fire the lot of them!