In Stockton, California, Kenneth Wright was at home with his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11 when a SWAT team burst into his home at 6 a.m., dragged him out on the lawn, threw him to the ground, and put the family (including the kids) in squad cars. His alleged crime: default on student loans. On top of the overkill in using SWAT teams to target defaulting students, the city got it wrong. They were looking for Wright’s estranged wife. The D.O.E. now insists that it was not just about loans but part of a criminal investigation that it was carrying out.
There has been an expansion of SWAT teams with the infusion of federal funds, often connected to anti-terror programs. Departments appear to be searching for ways to use them, including as http://jonathanturley.org/2011/03/25/under-siege-steven-seagal-attacks-home-in-arizona-with-armored-cars-and-swat-members-to-arrest-man-accused-of-cockfighting/.
In this case, Apocalypse Now was unleashed by the Department of Education as it called in the police for a defaulted student. The Office of the Inspector General has a law enforcement branch of federal agents that carry out search warrants and investigations. However the Stockton Police Department said that it only provided one officer and one patrol car and did not participate in breaking Wright’s door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.
Does this mean that the Department of Education now has shock troops? The Department admitted that it issued the search warrant. That is pretty disturbing that the Department of Education now has authority to issue search warrants and trigger raids on homes.
Recently when the Education Department bought 27 shotguns it released the following statement:
Here’s a statement from the office in response to a question about why need 27 shotguns with a 14-inch barrels:
“The Office of Inspector General is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Education and is responsible for the detection of waste, fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity involving Federal education funds, programs, and operations. As such, OIG operates with full statutory law enforcement authority, which includes conducting search warrants, making arrests, and carrying firearms. The acquisition of these firearms is necessary to replace older and mechanically malfunctioning firearms, and in compliance with Federal procurement requirements. For more information on OIG’s law enforcement authority, please visit their Web site at : http://www.ed.gov/oig”
The D.O.E. issued the following statement in saying that it was carrying out its own raid but not over student loans. Here is the statements as found on Reason:
Yesterday, the Depart of Education’s office of inspector general executed a search warrant at Stockton California residence with the presence of local law enforcement authorities.
While it was reported in local media that the search was related to a defaulted student loan, that is incorrect. This is related to a criminal investigation. The Inspector General’s Office does not execute search warrants for late loan payments.
Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we can’t comment on the specifics of the case. We can say that the OIG’s office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.
All further questions on this issue should be directed to the Department of Education’s Inspector General’s Office.
Source: NEWS 10 as first seen on Reddit.
Kudos to Elaine for shotgun story.