Sunday, June 14, 2009

Elkridge raid still not resolved

Integrity. Pride. Community. These are values that are represented by the badge of the Howard County Police Department, and these words are prominently displayed on the HCPD website. Many of the rank and file police officers embody these qualities everyday as they do their jobs patrolling the streets. I have a great deal of respect for the many officers who display these values.

However, tomorrow will mark the 5 month anniversary of the police raid of an innocent man’s home in which a family pet was shot two times and killed by a SWAT team member during a no-knock raid. The home was raided because a police assault rifle was stolen from a police car, and the investigators mistakenly thought that the assault rifle was in the possession of the victim. It turns out the homeowner was completely innocent. 5 months have elapsed and the investigation as to how this raid was handled has yet to draw to a close. On top of that, the police department top brass has chosen not to keep the community abreast about what is going on.

In fairness to the police department, there are two sides to every story. As bad as this series of events may make the police department appear to even the most unbiased and reasonable person, the police should have the opportunity to explain their side. This is why it is important that the results of the investigation be made public. After all, this is the exact same SWAT team that would show up at your house after someone leaves a bogus tip.

I am not concerned with specifics about this case (identifying the officer who was the shooter, etc.), but it is imperative that the public be made aware of what kind of evidence was presented to the judge who approved this no-knock warrant, what alternatives to a raid of this type were considered, what alternatives to deadly force are available to the police when dealing with animals. We pay a lot of taxes in this county, and our police department is given every advantage from the best equipment to the best training. Stonewalling the public is simply not acceptable.

By continuing to let this investigation drag out, the leadership of the HCPD is demonstrating that the values of integrity, pride and community are completely foreign to them. Additionally, they are showing that honesty and responsibility are foreign to them as well. It also reflects poorly on County Executive Ken Ulman that this is going down on his watch.

If the top brass continues to keep the public in the dark on this matter, perhaps Howard County Police Chief William J. McMahon should be given a special badge to wear. One that reflects his values of hubris, chutzpah and flagrant disregard for the public.


Anonymous said...

Agreed, and I have yet another example of how this can happen to anyone.

A strange package was delivered to my house, and appeared to have illegal drugs inside. I called the police, not knowing what this substance was and where it came from. Then as I waited for them to arrive, I looked at my dogs and started to wonder if I'd made a mistake.

As it turns out, a neighbor child gave my address to his classmate who had borderline illegal substance delivered to my home (some substance they were using to get high). The plan was to retrieve the package and deliver it to school.

This could easily have gone awry, by no fault of mine and can happen to anyone reading this. Recall the PG county couple whose dogs were shot when an errant package was delivered to their home.

Eludius said...

If the government keeps quiet about it long enough it will eventually go away. This is a common and usually successful tactic.

Anonymous said...

Successful unless people with reach remind them during 2010. The internet has changed things. If not in 2010, then sometime in the foreseeable future the antics and tactics of the past will be relegated just there - in the past.

Anonymous said...

HCPD is a joke. They get their jollies doing these raids. They staged a raid in my neighborhood based on false info from a woman about being beaten by her BF who supposedly had a gun. Just as they were about to storm the home, the guy walked out to go to work. They never found a thing. The HCPD acts like a bunch of cowards - hence the nickname for Howard as Coward County.

Freemarket said...

I just read that the HoCo Police are being sued for shooting a dog during a January 2008 raid (which is separate from the January 2009 raid in Elkridge). Some of these tactical officers must be some real trigger-happy cowboys.