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Police Refuse to Take Responsibility For Botched Drug Raid

Submitted by smorgan on
We have already grown accustomed to disappointing explanations from law-enforcement after they kick in the doors of innocent people, terrorize families, tear apart their homes, and then insist that such things "almost never happen." It happens all the time, as we know, and the pattern is terribly, depressingly familiar.

Still, the latest botched drug raid, which took place outside Albany, NY on the eve of July 4th, prompted a reaction from police that is so callous and plainly dismissive that it managed to surprise even me. The point isn't that I don't believe some police officers think this way, but that I just wouldn't expect them to reveal it as shamelessly as this.

Here is what Troy Police Sergeant David Dean told Albany's News10 correspondent Anya Tucker after the raid:

Sgt. Dean: "We did not hit the wrong house, we hit the house that the search warrant directed us to hit."

Anya: "But was that information that led up to that right?"

Sgt. Dean: "My bosses are going through this whole investigative process to make sure that we were as thorough as possible."

Anya: "What was the level of threat that you assessed prior to coming into the home?"

Sgt. Dean: "That there were weapons in the house, or that the drugs were stored in that manor."

Anya: "In this house, you found no drugs?"

Sgt. Dean: "We are not publicly speaking on that issue at this point."

Anya: "Do you think this will hurt your credibility?"

Sgt. Dean: "The last thing we want to do is enter an innocent person's home - it doesn't get us anywhere, and it doesn't hamper the drug trade."

Let's just stop there for a second. That is why they don’t want to raid the innocent? Because "it doesn't get us anywhere, and it doesn't hamper the drug trade"!? Sgt. Dean either won't acknowledge, or doesn’t even believe, that law-abiding citizens have a right not to be treated this way. No duty could be more central to police work than the protection of innocent people and property, yet that fundamental concept takes a back seat, if any at all, to the concern that police weren't able to put anyone in prison that day. And it gets worse:

Anya: "Will you be going back to clean-up the damage to the house?"

Sgt. Dean: "We just have to enter lawfully with our search warrant, that is our only obligation."

Anya: "And you can leave it in any state that you left it?"

Sgt. Dean: "Yes. We had probable cause that led us to believe there was drug activity."

Regardless of what the policy is, does that even sound right when it comes out of your mouth? What sort of public servant goes on TV and says they can trash innocent people's homes with no recourse? If nothing else, I'd be afraid that talking about it this way might lead to these draconian police powers being taken away. Such candor reflects perfectly the paramilitary mentality through which such violent and utterly unnecessary police behavior is born and repeated endlessly.

These remarks should be Exhibit A at a hearing before the state legislature. If police don't feel at all responsible for the damage they cause when they are wrong, what incentive do they have to make sure they're right? This is just another painfully predictable result of raiding homes based on the testimony of some desperate informant with everything to gain and nothing to lose by making up names and addresses at random. That appears to be exactly what happened here, and if it's not, well, don’t hold your breath for an alternate explanation.

Maybe I don't say this enough, but I respect cops. I was a criminal justice major. I've studied under them, dined with them, toured D.C. in a squad car and answered calls with them. I've witnessed heroic policing at frighteningly close range and I'll be the first to concede that a good cop is worth anything we can afford to pay.

But the great thing about good cops is that they make you feel safe, and that's the opposite of what happened here. These officers are telling the public that they can destroy your home when you've broken no law, that they don’t have to fix it, and that they needn't even explain the circumstances that brought them crashing violently into your peaceful life. Why would anyone anywhere ever want cops like that?

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