Our View: Review police raids

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:08 PM

Editorial Board

The discussion that will take place next year in the Utah Legislature over law enforcement raid-style search warrants is a necessary topic to debate. Certainly, the use of a battering rams to combat minor offenses is something that should not occur.

A libertarian group, the Libertas Institute, and others, including the American Civil Liberties Union, will lobby for limits on police use of force during search warrants for minor crimes. When this discussion occurs, it must focus on the safety aspects — to police and suspects — that these raids provide. These raids, as conducted now, are too dangerous.

One concern is the potential for late-night, high-adrenaline police procedures leading to the increased possibility of violence. No one certainly wants that, but unfortunately, that has occurred locally. Cases include:

• A 2010 incident in which a man was killed by law enforcement when he brandished a golf club when a search warrant was served at his home one night.

• The Stewart case, where one officer was killed, and several wounded, during a January 2012 “knock and announce” warrant at night at the home of Stewart in Ogden.

• A December 2012 incident in which a family, including two young girls, were met by officers in the early-morning hours. Police were at the wrong address searching for a military deserter. The family later received an apology from Ogden Police Chief Mike Ashment.

The police deserve our respect for doing a hard job and doing it well the vast majority of the time. However, there are always areas of improvement, and there have been enough adverse incidents involving raid-style police searches to merit more discussion on the issue. We hope some good ideas are heard next year during the legislative session.

Case Files: More on the Stewart story:http://www.case-files.standardnetlive.com/

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