Monday, June 29, 2009

Them magical disappearing house numbers have got cops all confused

What other explanation is there – other than the usual incompetency – for teams of officers who routinely barge into houses, apartments and domains – before realizing it's the wrong frickin' place to begin with? Makes you wonder regarding their literacy aptitudes. Balko from The Agitator has two stories concerning this particular branch of cop incompetency. The first one regards an elderly couple having the shock of their lives when cops wake them up and forcibly restrain them:

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis family is asking for an apology from police after officers mistakenly barged into their home during an early-morning warrant sweep.

Marye Minton, 70, and her 72-year-old husband were awoken early Thursday to officers banging on the door of their home, 6News' Ericka Flye reported.

Marye Minton said she is upset that the officers came inside and ordered her husband, who is in poor health, onto the ground.

"They said to him, 'Get on the floor,' like that, and see my husband's had four strokes, and he can't whoop anybody, he can't do anything," she said. "I'm very mad and I don't want it to happen to another citizen."

Officers were trying to serve a warrant for a man wanted on drug charges. The address listed on the paperwork was 4042. The Minton's home is 4048, with both house numbers clearly marked.

But Major Mark Robinett of the Marion County Sheriff's Department, who is in charge of warrant sweeps, said he was told that officers had a difficult time reading the addresses because of overcast skies.

Um – so they couldn't see the clearly-marked numbers ... because of overcast skies? Uh-huh. Sure. Only, I don't recall myself going blind whenever clouds cover the heavens and sunlight is a bit dimmed. I recall I can read door numbers perfectly well. Nice excuse, but seriously, try harder, morons. This reminds me of the time my brother got home past curfew (again) whilst biking, and his brilliant excuse which didn't fly was "the wind was pushing me too hard". Yeah.

At least in the end the police decided to honor her demand for an official apology (according to the report that is).

Our second "isolated incident" comes from Maryland, where apparently even brightly-lit corridors are no match for cops' illiteracy:

Kenyan immigrant Nancy Njoroge had been living in the United States for a year when a Montgomery County SWAT team burst into her Gaithersburg apartment at 4 a.m., handcuffed her and her two teenage daughters, and searched her apartment, court records show.

Police found nothing.

The reason: Njoroge lived in No. 202 of her apartment complex. The police had a search warrant for apartment 201.

After rejecting an offer from the county’s claims adjuster of a “couple of movie passes,” the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the county on the family’s behalf for unspecified damages, according to ACLU records filed in court.

The ACLU said the purpose of the lawsuit was to hold the police department accountable for its mistake.

“Officers had but one apartment to locate, in a quiet and well-lit hallway in the dead of night, without distraction and with clearly marked doors and numbers,” ACLU lawyer Fritz Mulhauser said in a letter to the county.

Njoroge and her daughters have suffered emotional distress since the attack and have seen their work and school lives disrupted, according to their lawyers.


Police later served the search warrant on the correct apartment, where they found 600 grams of cocaine and $27,820 in cash, according to a report by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which partnered with the county on the drug investigation.

Court records don’t give a clear reason why the police raided the wrong apartment, and the county attorney assigned to the case did not respond to inquiries for the story. But in court records, a SWAT team leader indicated that it was an isolated incident.

An isolated incident. Riiight. Apart from the dozens of such "isolated incidents" Balko routinely digs up and pastes over his blog's front page. Isolated incident, my ass.

As Ed Brayton put it, "If you had a pizza delivery guy who delivered pizza to the wrong address as often as cops do, you'd fire him.". Hell, forget firing him, just make him pay for all the wasted pizzas. And then fire his stupid ass.


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