It was the new face of Nixon’s drug war: swift, ruthless, over-powering, little tolerance for deviants. Finally Nixon had a team of cops who could utilize the tools he’d fought hard to give them. There would be no more feuding with federal bureaucrats. Namby-pamby local police chiefs and budgetary concerns would no longer get in the way. With LEAA funding, Ammbrose was able to target specific state and local police departments that would carry out the drug war the way he wanted. In the five years leading up to the creation of ODALE, the primary federal drug enforcement agency, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, had carried out four no-knock search warrants. In its first six months, ODALE carried out over one hundred…
In an interview with PBS thirty years later, Egil Krogh described the glee in the White House once ODALE was up and running: “There was a tremendous amount of zeal behind what we were doing, too. The people that worked on these programs came to work each day saying, "What can we do today?” It was a very exciting atmosphere. It was a place where I look back with a fierce affection of what we were able to do that I thought was effective. I regret the mistakes that we made, but we really tried our hardest.“
Those mistakes quickly began to add up. The strike force that carried out Collinsville raids hadn’t even bothered to get a search warrant before storming the Giglotto and Askew homes. Ambrose called the mistakes "reprehensible” and attributed them to “stupidity”, but quickly added, “Drug people are the very vermin of humanity. They are dangerous. Occasionally we must adopt their dress and tactics.” The agents in Collinsville were suspended pending further investigation -with pay.
In what would for the next forty years become a standard line from law enforcement officials, Ambrose also called the Collinsville raids “a very isolated situation”. That would become increasingly difficult to believe.
Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko