Law Enforcement 'Training And Expertise' On Parade!
from the all-the-ineptitude-that's-fit-to-print dept
This is just a periodic reminder that these are the sort of people whose “experience” and “expertise” are routinely granted massive amounts of deference by judges (and stenographers pretending to be journalists). Warrant affidavits providing more detail about the requesting officer’s law enforcement career than the target of the search are often rubberstamped into actionable pieces of paper. (But not always!) And yet, these experienced experts look far more mortal when their actions are given something more than a cursory examination.
Exhibit A: the Odessa PD’s crack team of trained experts who participated in a daring no-knock raid of an empty motel room.
The search warrant was executed on Jan. 29 at the America’s Best Value Inn, 3023 E. Highway 80.
Police officials say the officers involved in executing the warrant “used an unauthorized cooperating individual,” and the cooperating individual did not have the required file.
The Professional Standards Unit Investigation also found that the officers involved failed to correctly identify and confirm the location of the criminal activity.
During the search, officers entered room #225 which was vacant, according to previous reports.
Officers then reportedly made a “split-second” decision and breached the next room (#226) at the hotel where suspects were located.
When reviewing the warrant, officers realized that on the warrant room #225 had been listed, police say.
The suspects in the room were held “pending the production of a second search warrant,” police say in a release.
Post-facto warrants are seldom as legally-sound as warrants obtained before a search. Sometimes affidavit errors are excused but this case involved a confidential informant of uncertain trustworthiness and a lack of proper documentation. The officers are being lightly disciplined for their Keystone SWAT effort, but the department has cleared itself of any wrongdoing after investigating itself.
In the investigation, police determined that the breach of room #226 was “not illegal because the conduct of the officers prior to their entry into room #226 was lawful, there was no violation or threatened violation of the Fourth Amendment, and therefore the exigent circumstance rule applied and allowed for the entry and securing of room #226,” the release reads.
I imagine any evidence will be challenged in court, despite the PD’s claim no Fourth Amendment violations took place during the department’s botched raid. We’ll see how much claims of officer training and experience will hold up under judicial examination. (Sadly, they’ll probably hold up much better than they should. While typos are an inevitability, the use of a CI with no pedigree or paperwork puts the warrant on severely shaky legal footing.)
Exhibit B: the cop who justified the frisk of someone with statements that immediately undermined the asserted justifications. Here’s the court explaining to the officer why the frisk wasn’t reasonable:
Officer Kim’s testimony about seeing the handle of a gun protruding from Smith’s pocket is not credible. At the evidentiary hearing, Officer Kim testified that she could see the black handle of a gun protruding from Smith’s pocket. However, in her arrest report, written shortly after the incident, Officer Kim wrote “[t]he handgun was concealed inside his pocket in such a manner as not to be discernible by ordinary observation.” (ECF No. 18-1 at 3) This statement directly contradicts her testimony. It is unlikely that Officer Kim, approaching a poorly lit landing in the wee hours of the morning, would have been able to discern a black gun handle allegedly sticking out of Smith’s pocket.
Indeed, Officer Kim acknowledged in her police report she only became aware of the handgun after she began the pat down.
The question that must be asked (but can’t be answered) is: how many times has this sort of thing happened? Only a very small percentage of frisks receive courtroom challenges. And stop-and-frisk programs have been heavily criticized for their routine abuse of civil liberties. There’s no expertise on display here: only the inability to work backwards from an illegal search, even when given a chance to “correct the record” post-search by aligning the paperwork with a less-unconstitutional narrative.
And, finally, Exhibit C: Police chief vows to make the same horrendous mistake if that’s what it takes to somehow make a dent in sex trafficking.
“Everybody’s like, ‘Don’t move, don’t move or we’ll shoot you,'” Noel Navarete told local 4 News. His brother Isaias, 18, said he was in the bathroom when police kicked down the door.
According to family matriarch Maria Navarete, police told her to “shut up, you have no rights” when she asked what was happening. She claims police never showed her or anyone in the household a warrant.
Police apologized, explaining that a mysterious heroin-addicted woman in a local hospital said she and several underage girls had been held against their will and forced into prostitution; the woman (visually) identified the Navarete’s place as where it went down. That night, police began observing the house, soon witnessing two girls get dropped off by an SUV and go inside. Apparently, that was enough to warrant a furtive, middle-of-the-night raid on the place.
The kicker here is the apology came packaged with the police chief’s assertion he would handle things EXACTLY THE SAME WAY in the future. Somehow, this department will stamp out the scourge of sex trafficking using proven law enforcement tools like “mysterious heroin addicts” and several minutes of results-oriented investigation.
These are just a few of the experienced experts serving the public — men and women whose testimony is often considered unimpeachable and nigh unto God in terms of trustworthiness. Men and women whose errors ruin lives and whose shortcuts use the Constitution as a doormat.