T Nation

SWAT Heroes!





That is ridiculous. I did not know it was a crime to not cut my lawn. What a waste of tax payer money.


Hold on Mike. The title of your thread is a bit of a bullshit mischaracterization and the article is too.

The SWAT team was called because a guy pointed a shotgun at someone cutting a lawn and then barricaded himself. That is exactly what SWAT teams are there for. I can personally tell you that the most ridiculous little incidents can turn into a wild shitstorm if the right off-kilter mindsets are involved. Look at that Pittsburgh incident a few months ago where a number of cops were killed by that nut. It started as an argument between mother and son over a dog pissing on a carpet.

I get your larger point about the government intruding on the guy's property and telling him what an acceptable landscape should look like. I too have a serious problem with most of these local ordinances and I have personally dealt with the aftermath of jerkoff code enforcement officials creating situations almost as bad as this one. In fact, I would be a liar if I told you that I am not seriously concerned about the amount of negative contacts the police have with people anymore because of hundreds of thousands of senseless regulations and laws local, state and federal governments have pushed on us.

It has made my job exponentially more dangerous, and besides that, it often causes tremendous philosophical turmoil for many of us. A lot of people don't want to believe that because they simply hate any authority, but it is true. My ultimate test has always been this question..."Does the large majority of the public want me enforcing this law?". Rape, robbery, assault, theft...those are easy. I'll be damned if I'm going to take a ruler to a guy's lawn, however.

But that is really not the gist of this. Once it has progressed to the level of pointing a shotgun at a public works employee cutting the lawn, what do you think should have been done? Are you seriously going to tell me that guy's response was justified to "defend" his property? Massive, illogical leaps like this one which somehow results in a damnation of the police is why I stay out of the so-called "police brutality" discussions here anymore.

I can't be bothered arguing with some of these characters here who don't have any kind of foundation whatsoever to discuss these matters rationally. I realize you are coming from a different place experience-wise and philosophy-wise, so I give you the benefit of the doubt, but I think you are off base with the way you titled this thread.


nice call


Being a law enforcement officer myself I can't justify the misuse of funds to activate a SWAT team because of an incident like this.

What legal right did a public works employee have TRESPASSING on this mans property?

If this guy would have called the police would they have removed the employee from his property? If they would not have removed the employee would he have then been justified in defending his property? I think these are logical questions.



I see you work in Occupied Territory too. That being the case, you are very familiar with intrusive ordinances that seem to come with urbanization and high population. I dont agree with nearly all of them, but that is only a small piece of this discussion.

The article doesn't give a tremendous amount of information. The usual pathway for something like this to progress in my area would be:

-Code official fines the guy for "property upkeep" violation.
-If the guy refuses to pay, more fines could follow and ultimately an arrest warrant if he refuses to answer the summonses.
-Nobody is going on his property except PD to arrest him after an arrest warrant is issued. Sending a public works guy to cut his lawn is completely absurd, dangerous and a violation of his property rights in my opinion.

However, lets say that crazy step is taken and the public works guy does go on his property and he points the shotgun at him, PD would be called first. There is no such thing as directly dispatching a SWAT team to a call unless you are in a big city and a full SWAT element is already on hand AND the situation is very dire. Otherwise, patrol cops would always go first and then see what the situation was.

Those are the tactical considerations. The moral/ethical consideration is - can this guy's actions(pointing a shotgun at a guy cutting grass) be justified in any way? My opinion is a very emphatic "No".

Everyone needs to be careful about where we draw the line to use deadly force(which pointing a firearm at someone is considered to be just about everywhere). Of course, I have my lines as should every decent person. Needless to say, the line is way, way above cutting my grass(hell...feel free to cut my grass any time you want). If the man felt that wronged by this, there are other avenues to consider and even if he could never win, tell me with a straight face that level of force would be justified over this. Besides, I seriously suspect he was mentally deranged and that had everything to do with this incident...not some deeper "live free or die" philosophical question.


The article does not say, but it's possible that this guy signed some sort of home owner's agreement when he moved in which legally does give them the right to send some public works guy into his property to cut this grass at his expense.

Even if he didn't explicitly sign something to that effect, it still might be perfectly legal. Consider having your car towed. If you break the law and park where you aren't legally allowed a tow truck driver has the "right" to tow your car away at your expense. You never signed anything before parking there saying your car could be towed, but you have in essence agreed to consent to the laws and their consequences by parking there. In a similar fashion the argument could be made that by buying a home in an area where there are landscaping ordinances you have consented to the laws and their consequences.

I have similar dispositions about this all as you, but I'm just pointing out something minor. Whether there ought to be landscaping ordinances is another question.

I think you hit the nail on the head though with the mental stability comment. The person was probably not mentally stable in the first place.


The towing analogy is not really accurate. If your car is on a public street, you have to abide by motor vehicle law or it can be towed. If it is on someone else's private property, you have to abide by their rules or they can have it towed. But if it is on your property, having a government agent come onto your land to tow it is an entirely different matter.

The point you raise about a homeowner's association is an interesting one I did not consider but that would not really be the domain of the government to go and cut the grass. The association would simply call a private landscaper to do it. Occasionally homeowner's associations sign agreements with municipalities allowing government agents to enforce certain laws and ordinances which would not ordinarily be enforced on private land. I guess that could have happened here. Of course, the vicious communistic tendencies of some of these homeowner's association megalomaniacs is another topic...


This is a bit nit picky but I disagree. I do think the towing analogy is accurate in the relevant respects. That point I was trying to make with the towing analogy was that just as when you park somewhere you have implicitly agreed to the rules and consequences of breaking those rules by parking there, when you buy a home you have implicitly agreed to the rules and consequences for breaking those rules for living there. So while I'm not a lawyer, I would imagine that from a legal perspective the guy cutting your grass isn't breaking your rights anymore then the guy towing your car. In either case by buying the house or by parking in the spot you implicitly agree to certain rules and accept the consequences. Of course I could be wrong on the fact of the law, I'm just sorrta thinking out loud.

As was said though, whether or not there even should be such stipulations for buying a home (ie, you have to agree to the landscaping ordinances) is another matter entirely.


Perhaps mistitled, but I was just mentioning how quickly a situation could escalate when it didn't need to. I agree that hat particular situation is what SWAT should be used for though - I agree(if I believed in the need for SWAT).



I think making rash judgements on a person's mental health is a quick way to justify all sorts of violations of a person's liberty. Just ask vets being disallowed their 2nd Amendment rights for seeking treatment for PTSD. It kind of reminds me of Janeane Garolfolo telling Olberman that conservatives were mentally ill. I wonder what she'd do if she could use the coercive power of government against guys like me.



This thread touches on something I've never thought of much before and I'm interested in hearing some opinions. Yes, I realize this is a semi-hijacking of the thread, but it's not like that's never happened before.

How do people feel about local ordinances defining acceptable appearances for houses? I'm talking about how they are enforced, or how shit blew up so fast like in this article, but the ordinances themselves. I'm not a homeowner so I never gave it much thought.

On one hand, I wouldn't want to be told how to maintain my property. But on the other hand, I don't want some freak next door growing 15 inch grass either.


This is the interwebz... my comment was shear speculation, not some sort of attempt to justify what happened.

Besides, someone who consistently year after year did not cut their grass, fought the home owners association, quickly pulls a shotgun on a public employee who hasn't threatened them, barricades themselves in the house, etc... if not mentally ill certainly exhibits the sort of dangerous and neurotic behavior that would call for a SWAT team.


I paid close to 300 thousand dollars for my house and the property it sits on. If you don't make my monthly mortgage payment or a portion of it you can go fuck yourself as to telling me what to do with it. Just my personal feeling on local ordinances or homeowners associations. I would never live anywhere with an association that I would have to ask permission to plant a bush or change the house color.


This sorrta sums up how I feel about the issue--not that I own a home though. If you don't want to have to deal with this crap, don't buy a home in an area that has strict ordinances. If you don't want to worry about your neighbors house looking like shit, move into an area that does. In addition you can probably find an area with more or less strict ordinances--not every place that has grass ordinances requires you to beg for permission before planting a new shrub.

I know this doesn't answer the philosophical question of whether such ordinances are ever really acceptable, given that you "own" your land. My initial gut reaction is that such things aren't necessarily bad--after all, I think we can all agree that in some sense we need to respect our neighbors and owe something to our community. Thus the idea that because you "own" your land means you can do whatever you please on it seems incorrect. Of course figuring out if that sort of civic responsibility entails keeping your yard nice is another matter...


JD or Snipe:

I don't suppose either of you two have a good suggestion for a book on the history and founding of the modern police force do you?



Not really. What modest education I have on that subject came from textbooks in college. The modern concept of policing is largely attributed to one man...Sir Robert Peel. I guess you could do some reading on him but we are talking about the mid 1800's. There have obviously been massive changes in police work since the late 1960's but I don't know of any real authoritative book examining the last few decades if that is what you are looking for.