Florida Police Swat at Barbers

Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower. Hear him weekdays at 11:45 a.m. & 2:45 and 5:45 p.m. on WHAV

When it comes to policing an area, the good people of Orange Country, Florida are lucky, because they've got the astonishing law-enforcement team of DBPR and OCSO on the beat, eager to stop any possible criminal activity. Consider just one example of the truly-incredible vigilance of this dynamic policing duo.

The DBPR/OCSO target in this case was a suspicious enterprise calling itself Strictly Skillz, and the agents spent a month carefully planning a joint sweep operation, including a fully-armed SWAT team. On the day of the raid, the team first sealed off the parking lot; next, two undercover cops entered to size up the danger; and then – BAM! – the SWAT team hit the unsuspecting suspects. Wearing riot gear and brandishing guns, the team seized half-a-dozen of the enterprise's kingpins and cuffed them, while officers searched the premises for more than an hour.

You might assume that this was a narcotics operation, but no. In fact, Strictly Skillz is barbershop. What possible criminal activity led to such a militaristic show of brute force? "Barbering without a license." That's only a 2nd degree misdemeanor, but even it was not violated in this case, for all licenses at the shop were valid. DBPR (The Department of Business and Professional Regulation) could've determined that by a routine inspection, but instead, OCSO (Orange County Sheriffs Office) got involved and decided to muscle the barbers. Why? Because... well, because it has a SWAT team and a military mentality, so it thinks it's above the law.

In this case, a federal court not only yanked this abusive duo's constitutional chain, but also ridiculed its Keystone Kops routine of SWATing at barbers. But it's not funny – for police now run thousands of these farcical SWAT raids a year, and are rarely held accountable.

"Federal Appeals Court Ridicules Florida Cops For Using SWAT Team TO Check On Barbershop Licenses," www.alternet.org, September 18, 2014.

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