Public demands Ogden police policy review

Jan 9 2013 - 7:39am

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Ogden City Council members listenTuesday, January 8, as Darcy Van Orden calls for change within the Ogden City Police Department. Recent police searches some say have been mishandled have led to community outcry. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Melanie Hill struggles as she speaks to reporters at Ogden City Hall on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, about the night police stormed her home in a search for someone who never lived there. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Nathan Goodman, of Salt Lake City, shares his concerns during an Ogden City Council meeting Tuesday, January 8, 2013, and calls for change within the Ogden City Police Department due to recent mishandled searches and served warrants. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Melanie Hill pleads with Ogden City Council members during their meeting Tuesday, January 8, 2013, to take action as growing concern over recent "no knock" police searches have led many community members to be frightened. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Ogden City Council members listenTuesday, January 8, as Darcy Van Orden calls for change within the Ogden City Police Department. Recent police searches some say have been mishandled have led to community outcry. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Melanie Hill struggles as she speaks to reporters at Ogden City Hall on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, about the night police stormed her home in a search for someone who never lived there. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Nathan Goodman, of Salt Lake City, shares his concerns during an Ogden City Council meeting Tuesday, January 8, 2013, and calls for change within the Ogden City Police Department due to recent mishandled searches and served warrants. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)
Melanie Hill pleads with Ogden City Council members during their meeting Tuesday, January 8, 2013, to take action as growing concern over recent "no knock" police searches have led many community members to be frightened. (CAMERON MCLEOD/Special to the Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- A couple mistakenly served with an arrest warrant by armed officers at their home last month were joined by several others Tuesday night in demanding that the city council change the way Ogden police operate.

Eric and Melanie Hill  told the council they, along with their two little girls, are still traumatized by the 2 a.m. Dec. 20 incident  in which six officers, who had the wrong address, searched their home for a military deserter.

"I feel very  lucky to be standing here today ... and to have my husband," Melanie Hill said, adding that her family has been victimized by Ogden police. 

She also said it is perplexing how police got incorrect information that led them to her home. 

"It's horrific," she said.

Eric Hill, who during the incident was awakened to the sound of police pounding on his front door, has said he brandished a bat and was handcuffed by officers. 

"It's a nightmare we are never going to get over," he told the city council regarding the incident.

Darcy Van Orden, a community organizer for the Campaign for Liberty, said the warrant served at the Hills' home is among several missteps by Ogden police.

Van Orden also criticized the September 2010 killing of  Todd Blair, who was brandishing a golf club when he was shot to death by a Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force agent during the execution of a search warrant at his Roy home. 

She demanded that Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment resign and requested that the city council order an independent investigation of all police department policies.

The council also heard from Michael Stewart, the father of Matthew Stewart, who is awaiting trial on charges that he killed Ogden Police Officer Jared Francom and wounded five other Weber-Morgan Narcotic Strike Force agents during a shootout at his home in January 2011.

"We need police but not police who are so quick to use weapons," he said.

Patrick Powers, president of the Utah Liberty Institute, called on the council to prohibit police from using no-knock warrants in the middle of the night, because it's too dangerous for both police and the occupants of residences being raided. The warrants should instead be served during daylight hours and only for violent offenses, Powers said.

"You may catch them in their PJs eating cornflakes," he said.

The city council took no action on the residents' requests. However, Mayor Mike Caldwell promised a review of police department policies.

He told the residents:

"We take this very seriously." 

 

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