Law And Order Dead On The Money-DEVIANCE
Security forces deployed unlawful force, including live ammunition and birdshot, to crush mostly peaceful protests. In July, at least 11 people were shot dead during protests over water shortages in Khuzestan and Lorestan provinces and scores were injured.3 On 26 November, security forces fired metal pellets to disperse protests over water mismanagement in Esfahan, leading to scores of people, including children, being blinded or sustaining other serious eye injuries.
Law And Order Dead On The Money-DEVIANCE
The authorities refused to cease and provide accountability for the unlawful killing of scores of unarmed Kurdish cross-border couriers (kulbars) between the Kurdistan regions of Iran and Iraq, and of unarmed Baluchi fuel porters (soukhtbar) in Sistan and Baluchestan province.8
For U.S. law enforcement agencies, the rise of a criminalized and dark variant of Santa Muerte worship holds many negative implications. Of greatest concern, the inspired and ritualistic killings associated with this cult could cross the border and take place in the United States.
While U.S. law enforcement personnel in some parts of the nation, such as southern Texas, are familiar with Santa Muerte worshipers working for the cartels, officers in other areas know little about such cartel members. Introductory booklets and reports, subject matter experts, and training programs can provide useful background on this growing cult. Training also is offered by local High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) centers whose Mexican cartel and gang-focused training increasingly has narcotics saint content. Such training is being provided by the Los Angeles HIDTA and other entities in the southern border state areas.
The rise of a fully criminalized and dark variant of Santa Muerte worship holds many negative implications. Of greatest concern, the inspired and ritualistic killings associated with this cult could emerge across the border and manifest domestically in the United States.
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The internet has become so ubiquitous in our lives that much of our commerce, socialising, dating and recreation are now carried out via electronic means (Katz & Rice, 2002). Such a growth in both traffic and time spent on the internet has seen new platforms emerge that allow individuals to easily cross the boundary from analogue reality to digital fantasy. This could be through the careful management of a social media page to present a fictitious account of one's life via platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or it could be the broadcasting of personal performance in order to experience celebrity via platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo and Twitch.tv. Whilst these digital portrayals are often carefully managed and do not reflect reality, there is a burgeoning market of consumers who are willing to monetise the performances which people share, and it is estimated that social media influencers generate $1.7 billion for the global economy each year (Media Kix, 2017).
However, in order for the refocussing to be successful, the act of swatting needs to be a dramatic, almost cinematic event which captivates the online audience. In order to achieve this, the perpetrator purposefully chooses a crime which will see the police deploy a SWAT team. Standing for Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT teams (and other Police Paramilitary Units (PPUs) under other names across the United States) were originally created in 1960s Los Angeles to respond to crimes which ordinary patrol officers are not equipped to deal with (Kraska & Kappeler, 1997). Since then these teams have spread across law enforcement in the United States and are highly trained, paramilitary style specialist officers who are tasked to the most dangerous situations. Such situations often require SWAT teams to undertake explosive entry into premises which involves the use of breaching charges or shotguns to force doors and stun grenades to temporarily disorientate the perpetrator so as to allow the officers to affect a safe arrest (Kraska & Kappeler, 1997). Should the SWAT team believe that life is in immediate danger, then the SWAT team members will not hesitate to use lethal force to ensure that individuals are protected from harm (Kraska & Kappeler, 1997). The perpetrators of swatting are aware of these capabilities and the cinematic effect that they can have and, thus, they only call in crimes which are likely to see a SWAT team respond.
There is an inherent danger to a SWAT team responding to what they believe to be a crime where loss of life is imminent. Whilst SWAT teams exist to protect life and have an inherent flexibility that allows them to respond as events play out on the ground, they are a paramilitary style force which has standard operating procedures (SOPs) which dictate their initial response (Kraska & Kappeler, 1997). Along with these SOPs is a rigorous training regime which sees the SWAT teams rehearse how they will carry out such things as hostage rescue or dealing with an active shooter (Kraska & Kappeler, 1997). As Waddington (1993) has argued, these two things combine to create a military like culture where speed, aggression and surprise are favoured over the more traditional policing approach of talking in order to deescalate the situation. In turn, this creates an approach which sees the potential perpetrator as a bad guy or enemy who must be defeated in order to protect the potential victims (Waddington, 1987). If we then apply this to a swatting situation, it becomes unsurprising that in at least two instances the act of swatting has led to the death of the individual who has been victimised.
Such masking behaviour is common amongst hoax callers to the police who utilise such methods in order to avoid prosecution for wasting police time. Had the police realised that the call did not originate locally, then they may have treated it as hoax or carried out some more in-depth checks before they tasked units to respond. However, this masking activity was not detected and an alert was issued to all patrol units to respond in order to attempt to save the lives of the hostages in what was thought to be a time critical event. This led to the nearest patrol unit arriving at the address which had been given and taking control rather than the specially trained officers of a SWAT unit that may have been expected (Leiker & Potter, 2018). Having officers not specifically trained in how to deal with such a situation highly likely contributed to Andrew Finch's death as there were several further discrepancies which could have helped to end the situation peacefully. First, after the patrol officers arrived at the scene of the supposed crime, Taylor Barriss was actually on the phone with the police dispatchers for over 16 minutes, yet no attempt was made to confirm that he was physically present (Burgess, 2018). Also, the physical description which had been given of the property did not match that of Andrew Finch's real life dwelling and, whilst unclear, it appears that the patrol officers did not know that the dispatchers were in contact with the supposed suspect (Burgess, 2018).
Swatting has been recognised as an act of online deviance since at least 2008 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a memorandum to police forces across the USA warning of the rising trend of these crimes (FBI, 2016). Despite such warnings, both the legal and policing response have been largely nonexistent with many states not possessing relevant legislation (Jaffe, 2016) and many police officers not being aware of the phenomenon (Jaffe, 2016). Andrew Finch's case proves that such a lack of awareness has lethal consequences because it compounds the issue of self-defence immunity laws which exist, in most states, to protect law enforcement from prosecution for events that happen whilst they are carrying out their appointed duty (Graham V. Connor, 1989). Specifically, these laws often allow officers who have been involved in deadly shootings to avoid prosecution because they believed that the discharging of their weapon was justifiable as an act of self-defence, an act in defence of colleague or an act in defence of the public (Graham V. Connor, 1989). In practice, such legal protection gives US law enforcement officers a huge level of discretion as to when they are legally allowed to discharge their firearms. Effectively, this creates a policing model whereby suspicion that a violent act may be about to take place can lead to immediate use of lethal force by the police. The decision about whether or not a situation is violent is wholly subjective with the police officer involved making the decision based upon their perception of events.
For example, in the shooting of Andrew Finch, the officer who took the shot, Patrolman Justin Rapp of the Wichita Police Department, took approximately 10 seconds from seeing Andrew Finch on the front porch to opening fire (Koerner, 2018). Since the shooting took place, Officer Rapp has given two differing accounts of why he opened fire with his immediate statement claiming he saw a hand gun in Andrew Finch's hand (Madani, 2018) and his testimony in the court case of Taylor Barriss stating that he only believed that Andrew Finch was reaching for a hand gun concealed at his waistband (Koerner, 2018). As the officer responsible for shooting Andrew Finch was not charged and has been cleared of any wrong doing (Madani, 2018), those studying this and other fatal police shootings must ask questions about how they came to be normalised. A potential answer lies in exploring the creation of SWAT teams in more depth. As mentioned previously, SWAT teams were explicitly created to handle criminal threats to which normal patrol officers do not have the equipment or training to handle. Whilst pragmatically this sounds like a solution to a problem in a gun culture, like that present in the United States, it also comes with several issues. As Kraska (2007) argues, the largest of these issues is the militarisation that SWAT teams bring into policing and how they blur the traditional dichotomous line between military and civil actions. Such a blurring takes place not necessarily amongst SWAT members who, research shows (Kraska, 2007), understand that they are modelled after elite military Special Forces units and are not actually engaged in similar actions but instead amongst those officers who aspire to be SWAT. Thus, a situation arises whereby patrol officers potentially come to see themselves as frontline troops engaged in a war against crime. If one conceptualises their role as a police officer in such a way, then those accused of crimes become the enemy and all police/suspect interactions become inherently adversarial as they are thought of as being a battle between the forces of law and order and those of criminality. 350c69d7ab