Since I filed my complaint with the Civilian Police Review Board there has been a discussion as to whether someone living outside the area should be allowed to file a complaint.
When the police stormed into the Whitworth’s home in February they not only violated the family’s rights, but threatened the rights of every American. Whenever the government steps over the bounds of civil society and is not rebuked, it affects us all because any one of us might be next. Therefore, by protesting this unconstitutional intrusion we are protecting everyone from government excess. It doesn’t matter where we live. Just think, the U.S. has hundreds of thousands of troops all over the world whose stated purpose is to protect freedom. Certainly, if we can deploy overseas to protect freedom, we should be able to do it within our own borders.
The reason why I, as Executive Director of Green Aid: The Medical Marijuana Legal Defense and Education Fund, felt obligated to make this complaint, was that government repression that goes unanswered and faces no opposition, encourages continued use of these policies.
Rather than focusing on the problems with the police department, its policies, personnel and oversight, the focus of the CPRB has been on tightening rules about who can complain.
One reason that residents of Columbia may not have filed formal complaints with the CPRB was fear of retribution from the local authorities. This would not be the first time that the police and other authorities attacked a whistleblower. It is for just that reason that help from out of the area is useful in shining a light on a particular problem.
I suggest instead that the lens should be placed over the police department, the subject of the complaint, which has acted irresponsibly repeatedly.
I have sent the CPRB a new complaint regarding the incident because my investigation has turned up certain anomalies that need to be answered in order for justice to be served.
The Warrant- A search warrant was issued based on two anonymous phone calls. The police cited these and a search of the family’s trash that indicated use rather than sale, the basis for issuing the warrant. The questions to be answered:
1. It is highly unusual to for the police to receive anonymous tips regarding marijuana. They say they received two. Did a member of the Police Department actually make thee phone calls? We can find this out by checking the recordings to see if the calls were made by police personnel.
2. Why was this warrant issued? There was no indication of sales by observation, a buy or any other indicia. Did the judge commonly issue warrants based on such flimsy evidence? Was the judge colluding with the police to violate peoples’ rights to be secure in their homes? This warrants an investigation.
3. Who decided that this arrest should be carried out by a SWAT Team? Why? Was this normal procedure? If so, who authorized this violation of rights? Do the still have authority in the department?
4. Did the police follow procedure when they stormed the house to arrest Mr. Whitworth? Who wrote this procedure? On what basis was it issued?
5. Was the Whitworth family’s rights and reasonable expectation to be safe in their home violated?
6. Was this a lone incident or have incidents like this happened before? What were the circumstances? Were these personnel involved?
7. How many times have SWAT Teams fired weapons in family situations and raids such as these?
8. Do SWAT Teams kill family pets routinely?
9. Did the SWAT Team have training in working in civil matters or did they just have paramilitary training, which was inappropriate for this situation.
10. Why did the police violate City policy regarding “lowest priority” for marijuana cases?
There is another problem here, too. It is the Police Chief who exonerated the officers involved. The Chief did not think the officers involved in the raid were out of line and violating people’s rights. Millions of people saw this video and hundred were compelled to complain. This Chief is too myopic to remain in service.
Since the chief has a blind eye to his officers’ misconduct he has lost all credibility and should resign for the good of the City. If he doesn’t leave voluntarily, he should be removed for cause and replaced with a civilian Chief who is not part of the old-boys system of cops protecting misbehaving cops. Replace him with a civilian who respects the rights of citizens to be free from fear of police misconduct.