Video: Federal law enforcement raids house over ... unpaid student loans; Update: Not an overdue loan?

Via JWF and Reason, we now present this instructional video from the Department of Education. Now that the government has for all practical purposes nationalized the student-loan industry, the DoE would like to educate recipients on new loan-collection processes. The banks used to send bill collectors and file claims in court, but the Obama administration doesn’t like those kind of harsh private-sector measures to retrieve lost capital. Instead, they’ll send a SWAT team [see update below] to kick in your door and frighten your children — even if you don’t live with them anymore:

Kenneth Wright does not have a criminal record and he had no reason to believe a S.W.A.T team would be breaking down his door at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

“I look out of my window and I see 15 police officers,” Wright said.

Wright came downstairs in his boxer shorts as a S.W.A.T team barged through his front door. Wright said an officer grabbed him by the neck and led him outside on his front lawn.

“He had his knee on my back and I had no idea why they were there,” Wright said.

According to Wright, officers also woke his three young children ages 3, 7, and 11 and put them in a Stockton police patrol car with him. Officers then searched his house.

Why did a SWAT team treat Wright like a drug kingpin?

The U.S. Department of Education issued the search and called in the S.W.A.T for his wife’s defaulted student loans.

Ah, yes. Thank goodness that Stockton sent heavily armed men into a house with three young children, forcibly entering and seizing law-abiding citizens, to demand payment for a student loan from someone who no longer lives in the house. That’s precisely the kind of customer service and competent administration we expected when government monopolized the student-loan industry in the first place.

Say, here’s a question: did anyone on the SWAT team think to knock first and wait for someone to answer?

Matt Welch asks a good question:

[I]f this story isn’t a wake-up call about the militarization of police and criminalization of everything, then I’m afraid the patient is even deader than the Fourth Amendment.

It’s also a wake-up call about the nationalization of what should be entirely private transactions.  If the DoE hadn’t handed out direct loans in the first place, then the “suspect” would be dealing with her default in civil proceedings, where the dispute belongs.

Update: The television station that first reported this has updated their story to note that it wasn’t a SWAT team, but the federal Office of the Inspector General (OIG).  The OIG disputes that the issue was a default, but refuses to explain further:

A U.S. government official confirmed for News10 Wednesday morning federal agents with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), not local S.W.A.T., served the search warrant. The official would not say specifically why the raid took place.   He did say the search was not related to student loans in default.

He went on to say OIG is a semi-independent branch of the U.S. Department of Education that executes warrants for criminal offenses such as student aid fraud and embezzlement of federal aid.

Er … that’s not much of an improvement.  Armed federal officers broke into a house and placed themselves and the occupants at risk for a potential case of fraud or embezzlement?  For someone who no longer lives there?  I’ve changed the headline to reflect the changes in the original reporting, but this does nothing to change the ridiculous nature of this intrusion into a private home.