The growing criminalization of America is something that Denver criminal defense lawyers and civil rights advocacy groups around the country have been very concerned about. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, over the past two decades years, police officers across the country have made more than 250 million arrests. As many as one out of every three Americans is included in the FBI criminal database. Those statistics point to the increasing over criminalization of society.

The American Civil Liberties Union agrees that there is a growing criminalization in America, and is warning about the excessive militarization of the American police force, and the fact that SWAT team strategies are frequently used in even in cases that don’t call for these.

The American Civil Liberties Union has published a report that criticizes police departments across the country becoming excessively and dangerously military-like in nature. According to the report, many police departments are treating neighborhoods like war zones. In far too many cases, according to the report, police departments are using SWAT teams to search homes for drugs in routine activities that don’t necessarily require military- like strategies. These teams are used even when these homes have children or the elderly, who may be distressed at the sight of such military- like activity.

The report titled War Comes Home, also finds that police departments very often use very poor standards to determine whether a drug search or other operation, is high-risk. Not enough efforts are made to find out whether a suspect in the home is armed or dangerous, before deciding to go in military-style. In many cases, these officers simply force their way into homes, usually at the dead of night, simply to serve a search warrant, something that could easily be could done without such military deployment. Often, explosive devices are used in order to blind and deafen residents temporarily, when officers believe someone in the house is in possession of drugs. The report claims that the there is an increasing trend toward police militarization, which seems to treat ordinary Americans like war criminals even before they have been charged with a crime.

According to the report, approximately half of the people, who were impacted by such SWAT police deployments, were either African-Americans or Latinos. Whites were the target of such SWAT-style deployment in just 20% of the cases.

Such raids can be deadly. Between 2010 and 2013, seven civilians suffered fatal injuries and 46 were injured in such raids.

In 79% of the cases, the police department executed SWAT raids to simply execute search warrants of the home. In most of the cases, these were drug searches.

If you have been arrested for a drug crime or any other crime, your rights may begin to be compromised at the time of the arrest. Because of the growing criminalization of America, you may find yourself in this situation sooner than you think, so it’s important to know your rights as the accused. Speak with a Denver criminal defense attorney  to get help as soon as possible after the arrest.