My research on bounty hunters shows that they are more effective than the police in recapturing criminals. I’m often asked (and sometimes told), however, about the potential for abuse and mistaken arrests. No one ever bothers, however, to ask how bounty hunters compare on the abuse score with the police. My suspicion is that the bounty hunters would come out better because they know that a mistake can put them out of business while the police may routinely break down the wrong door under cover of law.
Some data on the potential for abuse and mistaken arrest or worse from the police is provided in a new Cato report, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, by Radley Balko. The report notes:
last 25 years, America has seen a disturbing militarization
of its civilian law enforcement, along
with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of
paramilitary police units (most commonly called
Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine
police work. The most common use of SWAT
teams today is to serve narcotics warrants, usually
with forced, unannounced entry into the
These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per
year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting
nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and
wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having
their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually
by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units
dressed not as police officers but as soldiers.
Along with the paper is an interactive map showing hundreds of mistaken raids over the past several decades, a number of which lead to the deaths of innocents.