Take the case of Kenneth Wright of Stockton, Calif., who was “visited” by a SWAT team from the U.S. Department of Education in June 2011. Agents battered down the door of his home at 6 a.m., dragged him outside in his boxer shorts, and handcuffed him as they put his three children (ages 3, 7, and 11) in a police car for two hours while they searched his home. The raid was allegedly intended to uncover information on Wright’s estranged wife, Michelle, who hadn’t been living with him and was suspected of college financial-aid fraud.
The year before the raid on Wright, a SWAT team from the Food and Drug Administration raided the farm of Dan Allgyer of Lancaster, Pa. His crime was shipping unpasteurized milk across state lines to a cooperative of young women with children in Washington, D.C., called Grass Fed on the Hill. Raw milk can be sold in Pennsylvania, but it is illegal to transport it across state lines. The raid forced Allgyer to close down his business.There are legitimate needs for SWAT teams. But this widespread creation of SWAT teams in agencies that are not primarily in the business of dealing with violent criminals is crazy. There is something to be said for specialization of labor. If a federal agency has a situation where they are genuinely concerned that serving a warrant might involve violence, call the FBI. College financial-aid fraud? Please.
This report from channel 10 Stockton indicates that it was not a SWAT team, although the description of 15 armed officers breaking down Wright's front door at 6:00 AM sure might make you think that was the case. According to the article, Wright had no criminal record.