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June 2007
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The wrong addresses never stop

It seems like a constant stream of these events now.

Law-enforcement officers raided the wrong house and forced a 77-year-old La Plata County woman on oxygen to the ground last week in search of methamphetamine.
The raid occurred about 11 a.m. June 8, as Virginia Herrick was settling in to watch “The Price is Right.” She heard a rustling outside her mobile home in Durango West I and looked out to see several men with gas masks and bulletproof vests, she said.
Herrick went to the back door to have a look.
“I thought there was a gas leak or something,” she said.
But before reaching the door, La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies shouted “search warrant, search warrant” and barged in with guns drawn, she said. They ordered Herrick to the ground and began searching the home.
“They didn’t give me a chance to ask for a search warrant or see a search warrant or anything,” she said in a phone interview Thursday. “I’m not about to argue with those big old guys, especially when they’ve got guns and those big old sledgehammers.” […]
Deputies asked Herrick if she knew a certain man, and she said no. Then they asked what address they were at, and she told them 74 Hidden Lane.
Deputies intended to raid 82 Hidden Lane – the house next door.
While Herrick was on the ground, deputies began placing handcuffs on her. They cuffed one wrist and were preparing to cuff the other.
“I had gotten really angry, and I was shaking from the whole incident,” she said.

And she should be angry. But it’s this part that really makes me steamed:

Raiding the wrong house was a mistake, but it’s one the task force has been learning from, [Southwest Drug Task Force Director Lt. Rick] Brown said. The mistake could have compromised the investigation and deputy safety.

Yeah, right. Forget the public. Who cares about real people in our homes? The real problem is that this mistake might have messed up their drug war or their own safety. Virginia was lucky, I guess. She survived.
Oh, and by the way, the drug task force had supposedly been investigating drug activity at 82 Hidden Lane for a month. Maybe somebody in the task force should get access to Google and look up the addresses. Or better yet, do some police work.
When I go to visit somebody for the first time, I’m paranoid about checking the number to be sure I’ve got the right place before I knock on the door (and the worst that my mistake could do is make someone answer the door unnecessarily). Would that not be even more true if you’re about to destroy somebody’s life and maybe take it?
The fact that these events happen so often not only is a factor of simple percentages (given the extraordinary number of home invasions authorized in the name of the drug war). It also seems that drug warriors have stopped thinking about the public as citizens meriting concern for their safety, but rather as part of an enemy populace.

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