Our View: Raid Inquiry leaves questions

Thursday , January 31, 2013 - 5:42 AM

Excuse me...

Editorial Board

The Ogden Police Department’s internal investigation into a botched raid by its officers that threatened a family, including two young girls, leaves questions unanswered. People who are already skeptical of the Ogden police will not be convinced by the internal investigation, which finds no violation of policy but calls for changes in its policy.

In non-bureaucratic speak, what that means is that the policy that led officers to terrify an innocent family in the early hours of the morning was really poor.

We’re glad to hear Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell say, “Based on the recent police report on the mistaken-identity incident we will make changes to our arrest-warrant policy and procedure, ensuring officers are making use of available resources and verifying addresses on arrest warrants. Officers will also be required to weigh the public safety threat of the wanted person and the risk of serving the warrant during nighttime hours.”

Other policy changes include background and address verification checks prior to arriving at a home with guns at the ready.

That all makes sense, but it’s police work 101. One question: why were law enforcement officers following a policy that did not prioritize those procedures already? It appears that the officers who were eager to enter a home at 2 a.m. to arrest a suspect who did not live there could have easily discovered that the Hill family was residing there.

Also, Mayor Caldwell stated that the review studied policies from 18 other law enforcement agencies, including 11 within Utah. He said, “We found our policies regarding the serving of arrest warrants are consistent with the policies and best practices studied. Nevertheless, we think that policy improvements can be made to increase safety for our citizens and officers.”

We agree with the second sentence. The first sentence concerns us, however. Do other agencies have policies that can lead to such foul-ups as what occurred with the Hill family?

As we have previously mentioned, an independent investigation would have been the best option. The internal report clashes with claims from the Hill family. This is not surprising, given that the family refused to cooperate.

We hope the policy changes lead to an improvement in the department’s performance of dangerous duties. As to what actually occurred on Dec. 20, questions remain.

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