Find My SWAT team

From Jesus Jiménez' "Detective Sued Over SWAT Raid Based on Wrong Location on the Find My App" in Tuesday's New York Times:

When a SWAT team showed up in front of her house in January and demanded over a loudspeaker for anyone in the home to come out with their hands up, Ruby Johnson was watching television in a bathrobe, bonnet and slippers, according to court documents.

The SWAT team and Denver police officers had arrived at Ms. Johnson’s home in an armored vehicle with a German shepherd. Officers, some in tactical gear with rifles, used a battering ram on the rear garage door of Ms. Johnson’s home and also caused damage inside the house, court records say.

Officers searched for stolen goods while Ms. Johnson, 77, waited in a police vehicle. After several hours, the police left. Their search was fruitless.

In a lawsuit filed last week, Ms. Johnson, a retired U.S. Postal Service worker who lives alone, says that a detective, Gary Staab, sought the warrant based on inaccurate information from the Find My app. The mobile application, which helps track down missing or lost Apple products, such as iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, led him to believe that stolen goods were inside her home, the suit says.

My take: Anton Chekhov's rule of theatrical weaponry says...

"If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there."

PED's corollary:

If you a give police special weapons, armored vehicles and a German shepherd, you can bet they're going to use them.

UPDATE: Oh look, there's a video...

16 Comments

  1. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    I feel a “blame Apple” connection attempt is being made here. When the detective should own up that he should have done what he’s supposed to do – good detective research/work – before authorizing an over-the-top raid. What motivated a SWAT assault vs a door-knock search warrant??
    IMHO

    7
    December 6, 2022
    • David Emery said:
      Is the issue here the warrant, or how it was served?

      2
      December 6, 2022
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        There should be no issue. The police were acting on what they, and the judge that signed the warrant, felt was good information.

        As for the way the warrant was served, I believe it was reasonably. The first rule of engaging an unknown situation is to be able to go home at the end of your shift.

        The City/County should have issued a very public apology and paid for repairs to her house, and followed up with an outreach effort. It would appear they did not.

        2
        December 6, 2022
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      What motivated a SWAT assault vs a door-knock search warrant??

      There are a lot of reasons, legitimate reasons, that the media never includes in its reporting.

      SWAT applies for a warrant. A judge issues it, based on the supporting information provided by the police. In other words he makes sure the police have enough info to justify the issuance of a search warrant.

      The manner the warrant is served is the result of arracks against officers in the process of serving it. We live in an increasingly violent society. Police officers are like anybody else, they want to go home at the end of their shift. Bodily injury to suspects and serving officers have declined since adoption of SWAT tactics.

      2
      December 6, 2022
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    In my 2nd year as a police officer, myself and another were dispatched to a possible sale (anonymous source) of a large amount of marijuana in progress. When we arrived (apartment complex) we knocked and announced ourselves. From within we could hear someone shout “It’s the police” and the scraping of chairs being moved aggressively on the floor, whereupon i and my partner entered the apartment. A person jumped up off the floor and attacked my partner. Arrests were made and a small amount of marijuana was found.

    Turns out this was the tail end of a wedding party. The anonymous source and person shouting “It’s the police” was the Best Man who thought it would be funny to have the police crash the party. The groom was arrested for assault on a police officer. He spent his wedding night in jail.

    Myself and my partner were sued for a bunch of things (attorney’s throw the sink at you). The City negotiated a deal wherein the suit would be dropped on the dismissal of my partner. After that was done the bride and groom filed suit anyway and got a fat settlement check from the City.

    Law suits alleging police misconduct, while it happens more than it should, are not automatically true or malicious.

    My opinion of the judicial system and City/police Dept leadership were forever altered after that experience. I left law enforcement two years later.

    7
    December 6, 2022
    • Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
      Thanks for sharing, Gregg.
      I wonder then whether this was one of those “SWATting” incidents where someone falsely does a 911 call purposely intended to mobilize an armed police SWAT team against someone’s home.

      2
      December 6, 2022
      • Gregg Thurman said:
        You never know until the facts are made public. By then the media has moved to the next news cycle and the public rarely finds out (unless an arrest is made).

        2
        December 6, 2022
    • Jonny T said:
      One night in jail for the person responsible for all of that??? He should have been made made to pay every cent of the cost to the taxpayer. Nobody else should have been charged let alone dismissed. Shambles.

      1
      December 6, 2022
  3. Jerry Doyle said:
    I just used “Find My App” to locate various Apple devices and to test the accuracy of the tool down to exact location, close as possible. I say this, because past experiences have shown me that the app often is not precise.

    Sure enough, here are my findings from my experiment today. The app shows not a single device inside my home, but all outside. My AirPod Pros and iPhone 13 Pro are in the backyard. My Ultra Watch is out in the middle of the Blvd inside the divided portion of the four lane road. My iMac is .01 mile east of me. The app says “no location found Online” for my iPad Pro M2 Series. iPad (2), iPad Air (2), iPhone, Jerry D’s iPad 4th Gen, Jerry D’s AirPods all says “No location found.

    My point in writing the above is to say that my use of the Find My App seldom gives me the precise location of my devices, only the “close proximity.” When I saw the caption of today’s subject blog my first thought was, “what you are looking for may be in the neighbors’ houses contiguous with the one you are searching.”

    I welcome others letting me know if the Find My App gives you the precise location all the time for all your devices.

    3
    December 6, 2022
    • Gary Gouriluk said:
      Exactly. Depending on conditions (weather, local cell coverage, position of the phone relative to metal roofs, type of product(nonGPS), etc) FindMy is just a best guess locator and a judge should require better information about location before granting a SWAT warrant.
      As everyone here is aware, legislators and the judiciary are always making judgments while woefully ignorant of the technologies they are judging.

      3
      December 6, 2022
      • John Konopka said:
        This is the CIS effect. On the television dramas the analytical devices all produce exact results in seconds. People have been trained to expect that. I worked for a large company manufacturing laboratory instruments. They do produce great results but it takes time and skill to use them and then you have to carefully parse the results.

        Curious story anyway. Contrasts with other stories where people have used Find My to track their stolen goods but the police refuse to help.

        1
        December 6, 2022
    • Dave Ryder said:
      Just tested mine. It was very accurate. But I wouldn’t rely on it for a SWAT exercise.

      0
      December 6, 2022
  4. Rodney Avilla said:
    So many possible scenarios. One possible one:

    There may had been stolen merchandise at that location at the time the “Find My” data was collected / the warrant was granted. Another family member (visiting or staying there temporarily) may have unknowingly bought stolen merchandise or stole it themselves completely unknown to the, I am sure, completely terrified lady.
    A recheck of the “Find My” data at the time of the raid may had produced completely different results, and maybe the proper location of the merchandise.

    1
    December 6, 2022
  5. Ken Cheng said:
    The police should be allowed to police. SWAT should be allowed to SWAT.

    But the over-militarization of the policing forces, in recent years, bothers me. I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think we’ve found it yet.

    1
    December 6, 2022
    • Rodney Avilla said:
      Here’s the dilemma. Let’s say the police state their position “we will police, but we will not try to overlap what the Swat team does.” They get a call and find themselves out gunned. So they put up their hand and say “everyone pause here. We are obviously over whelmed here, so would you mind stop shooting so we can pull out and just be patient until the Swat team arrives?”
      I agree that we need to better define the roles. In the meantime, we should never expose an officer to a situation, where he is unable to defend himself.

      2
      December 7, 2022
      • Ken Cheng said:
        And all the confusion leads to situations like Uvalde, where there were something like 350+ officers of various branches all waiting for someone, anyone to take charge, while an active shooter was still shooting teachers and children in classrooms. Sometimes, there can be too much of a response leading to indecision and ultimately a non-response. As I mentioned before, I don’t know what the answer is, but I don’t think we’ve found it yet.

        0
        December 7, 2022

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