CoMo Citizens and Green Aid Interview with Columbia Police Sgt. Hatton

Columbia Police officer interviewed by Erica and Donald Warren of CoMoCitizens (EDW) and Angela Bacca (AB) of Green Aid about SWAT-style drug raids in Missouri and beyond.

This video was recorded on a Friday evening outside of night clubs with a large police presence, some of it is hard to understand. Below is a transcript of the dialogue.

EDW: Uh? Mind if we record you? Mind if we record you?
Officer: What did you say?
EDW: Do you mind if we record you?
Officer: Do what you got to do man.
EDW: Awesome. What is your name? Officer…?
Officer: Sergeant Hatton
AB: Sergeant Hatton?
Officer: What story are you doing?
AB: We’re just doing a couple of individual stories.
Officer: Uh, what?
AB: A couple of individual stories for publications back home.
Officer: L.A.,..?
AB: No the Bay area.
Officer: Oh, San Francisco…
AB: Yeah…
Officer: Well there you go.
AB: I’m enjoying my stay though. Columbia is a cool place, so…
Officer: What was that?
AB: I’m enjoying Columbia, it’s a cool place.
Officer: Yeah, well I grew up here so…
AB:How do you like your new chief?
Officer: He’s all right. He is the one that promoted me so what can I say?
EDW: Awesome. So you must be one of the good ones then?
Officer: I don’t know about that. What bad ones are you referring to?
EDW: The ones who swat raid homes.
Officer: What’s that?
EDW:The one who swat raid homes
Officer: I was on the swat team.
EDW: You were on the swat team? The ones that don’t follow procedure?
Officer: Ok.
AB: you were on the swat team that did the Kinloch Ct ?
O: I just got off prior to that. I was on it for seven years.
AB: What are your feelings about that swat raid?
Officer:Excuse me?
AB: What are your feelings about that? That swat raid that happened.
Officer:I think we followed procedures just fine. I wouldn’t have done anything different.
EDW: You wouldn’t done nothing different?
Officer: Nope.
AB: How do you feel about all the national attention on it?
Officer: Doesn’t bother me one bit.
AB: I’m not asking if it bothers you. It creates a dialogue, so I wonder what dialogue is created in the police community because it involves them.
Officer: I’ve been through countless schools, I don’t think people should critique what they don’t know about.
AB: No, I’m not even talking about critiquing, I’m just talking about….
Officer: Well that was what the national debate was…
AB: Well no, that’s were it fails. It is not talking about dialogue, it’s talking about bad, good, wrong and right. It’s talking about these black and white issues rather than these grey issues. As a police officer, do you feel you should be spending your time doing those kinds of raids?
Officer: Certainly. It’s a necessary evil.
AB: For what reason I guess is my question?
Officer: Because marijuana is illegal. All other drugs are illegal.
AB: Why do you feel that a swat raid is an appropriate venue for that?
Officer: What’s that?
AB: Why do you feel that a swat team is the appropriate venue for a marijuana raid?
Officer: Well I guess I’d have to say that uh, that sometimes that’s what’s just necessary.
AB: I guess just expound upon that sentence a little bit, but why?
Officer: I think we are going to have to agree to disagree on this issue.
AB: I’m not agreeing or disagreeing, I’m just asking why? What’s the reason behind that?
Officer: Because sometimes it’s a little more dangerous then just saying hey do you have some marijuana that you’re not suppose to have? No, okay.
AB: But in Columbia you have a lowest priority law.
Officer: Yeah, not for dealers.
AB: Well did you know he was a dealer? Was he proven [as a dealer]though anonymous tips?
Officer: We’re just going to keep beat this over…
AB:If you feel uncomfortable we’ll quit. All I’m trying to do is create an open dialogue between citizens and police because we’re all the same people and live in the same country.
Officer: You’re not a standard citizen [Angela is a journalist and activist from Oakland, CA] because you’re doing a piece on it. That doesn’t make you a standard citizen. That makes you someone with an agenda.
AB: I’m a citizen. I’m a tax paying American.
Officer: I’m a tax paying citizen.
EDW: Do the police have an agenda?
Officer: We do, to keep the public save.
EDW: We both do, that is something we both have in common. How do you keep the public save if you do swat raid for marijuana, which is a non:violent crime?
Officer: I disagree with you there that it is a non-violent crime.
AB: Is it a non-violent crime because marijuana is violent drug or because of the prohibition surrounding it?
Officer: It’s the people that traffic it, that’s the problem.
AB: The people that traffic it, are they violent because of the law or are they violent because of the drug?
Officer: You’ve practiced this quite a bit
AB: No I haven’t.
Officer: Yes you have. Typed it all up.
AB: I’m just a well-educated girl what can I say.
Officer: Typed up a script.
AB: No it’s not a scripted.
Officer: Sure it is.
AB: I swear it’s not. I’m just very well educated.
Officer: I’m not saying you’re uneducated. I’m just saying you probably practiced this.
AB: No, no practicing (noise)
EDW: I’m actually a criminal justice master’s student. So we do know a little bit about the laws.
Officer: What do you know about swat tactics and the men and (interviewer interrupts) Hold on im talking, what do you know about those people?
EDW: I have a brother who is a Texas police officer who viewed the video and couldn’t believe it himself. I couldn’t believe the tactics that you guys took…
Officer: Was he a swat operator?
EDW: He was a police operator, not a swat operator.
Officer: There you go. There is a difference.
EDW: He was a police officer for ten years.
Officer: Where?
EDW: In Texas.
Officer: Where in Texas?
EDW: Near Houston and Dallas area
Officer: I’m asking what town he worked in.
EDW: Just as big as where the chief came from.
Officer: I don’t know how big….
EDW: Forty Thousand.
Officer: Not exactly big.
AB: Can I go back to your question?
Officer: Sure
AB: The swat exist to handle situations that normal police officers can’t handle, such as hostile situations with guns and violent situations.
Officer: That’s a standard answer.
AB: That is the standard answer, when you Google it, that is what you are going to get. But I’m wondering when you have something like marijuana why you bring swat instead of a regular police raid?
Officer: Well I’d be hard pressed to say that you are going to get a swat team that has no history of it, go to their house knock the door down and take their share and maybe some zigzags. I doubt your going to get that. As a matter of fact it would be absurd if a judge signed a warrant for that quite frankly. So what you guys, what guys don’t get is all the information. Okay?
AB: So tell me what I’m missing?
Officer: You’ll have to keep digging.
AB: I’m neutral and I am digging.
Officer: I’m not going to tell you.
AB: So I’m going to get opinion from the marijuana community but not from the police who did it. I would like to hear what you have to say. I want you to tell me.
Officer: My department did it, I wasn’t on it.
AB: I mean I would like to hear something I don’t know that I can’t find in my digging-I’ve been digging.
Officer: You’re an educated lady, keep digging.
EDW: So are all drug related search warrants conducted with swat?
Officer: Are all drug related search warrants conducted with swat?
EDW: In Columbia.
Officer: Uh, I wouldn’t say all probably. I wouldn’t say all.
EDW: Do you feel that surveillance should have been conducted before the Kinloch Ct. search was executed?
Officer: Uh, I don’t know it wasn’t…we did not conduct surveillance on all search warrants that we did. It was standard practice.
EDW: Back then before the new chief? Is that what you’re saying?
Officer: Correct.
EDW: So the old chief wasn’t doing his job?
Officer: No, that’s just not the way they did it.
EDW: That’s just not the way they did it? So they just didn’t run into people’s homes with out doing any type of surveillance … we are not trying to irritate you, we’re really not trying.
Officer: We’re going to have to disagree on this issue.
EDW: We’re not giving opinion, we’re just asking questions.
Officer: He actually did give an opinion when he said oh you just run into peoples houses without surveillance, isn’t that what you just said?
AB: But you said that was standard procedure back then.
Officer: What I said is we didn’t do it. We didn’t do surveillance on every search warrant.
EDW: But you do think you should have? Correct or…? To know if there are children in the home, you know, what pets you might encounter…
Officer: How would we know that? What if we surveillanced for two weeks and saw no children, but on that day his family came? Unannounced.
EDW: Well if a child lives in the home usually you are going to see a child move in and out of the home.
Officer: What if they were out of town for two weeks? What if they were with their grandparents?
EDW: Maybe you would of know if they were on vacation.
Officer: What if the child is in Texas?
EDW: I’m confused.
Officer: I’m just as confused as you. I mean we could play “what if” all day long.
EDW: You use surveillance for the investigation and the facts surrounding that home before you go into it, right? And that is the new stand operating procedure, right?
Officer: Yeah that is the new, have we had an incident that I don’t know about? That a procedure was broken on a search warrant that we’ve served so far?
EDW: Well what I’m asking is, do you feel that surveillance should have been conducted?
Officer: It’s probably a smart idea, it’s probably a smart idea for that to happen. The reality of it is that it probably doesn’t happen all the time. And it didn’t happen all the time. You can’t go back and you can’t go back and do that…You always know what’s best after the fact.
EDW: That’s true. But with foresight you can also tell what you’re getting into as well.
Officer: Some times you can, sometimes you can’t. You can’t always control what happens when you walk through that door.
EDW: I understand, but with a good investigation, stuff could have gone down a lot differently.
Officer: Do you know the first thing of to go to hell is in war? The best laid plan.
EDW: Well this isn’t war. You’re in America,
Officer: Oh there you go, sweetheart.
AB: Are you a veteran?
Officer: Yes.
EDW: That’s a good question. This is America, and this a free country. We’re not in a war zone.
Officer: A free country with rules and regulation that everybody has to follow, right?
EDW: That’s right, everybody has to abide by, even the police, correct?
Officer: Absolutely, actually more so, right? That’s funny because the media does a incredible job of reporting things that are not always accurate. Who holds them to the higher standard?
EDW: People…(interrupted by other interviewer) When an officer pulls someone from a burning car, they report that too.
Officer: Yeah, on about the back pages.
AB: When ever we report something incorrectly you should file a complaint …
Officer: And straight where all the other ones go, the trash.
AB: The citizens feel the same way when they make a complaint to the police department, that it goes…
Officer: Actually we have a pretty stream less, actually are IA department, our department is so swamped it’s not even funny with stuff that shouldn’t even be heard. It’s ridiculous. What does someone in California have a right to talk about an issue that is going on in Columbia?
AB: It’s nation wide. It affects all Americans.
Officer: We’re talking about it here.
EDW/AB: Columbia set standards for the rest of the nation. We’re a huge college town. Not only do people come…(interrupted by another interviewer) It happens in California. All across the United States.
Officer: All I am saying is someone who lives in California does not have the right to come here and argue about something that doesn’t even affect them. I don’t understand that. How does work?
EDW: But a Columbia citizen does, right?
Officer: Absolutely, they live here, they have a right.
EDW: Well I’m a Columbian citizen.
Officer: They have an absolute right to come here, the citizen has every right to come and talk about issues that affect the community. But someone in California does not.
EDW: I would like to see citizen and police get together and do what we’re doing right now and create a dialogue like we’re doing now, you know? Do you have a problem with that? I emailed you would you like to come and have conversion with us?
Officer: I don’t necessarily have a problem with that but what typically happens at these sessions turn in to is one great big well you did this, and you did this, and you did this.
[worried about us hacking up interview for web—interchange incomprehensible] Officer: Oh no, I’m not worried about out of hand, I’m talking about judgmental accusations.
AB: You should fight our judgmental accusations by giving us real facts and telling us what you meant to do.
Officer: Absolutely, still the smart lady.
AB: But please don’t let people from out of state run with these crazy notions, that if we’re saying something wrong, tell us, call us out on it. Let us create an open and honest dialogue, that’s the important part.
Officer: Absolutely
AB: So help us creating an open and honest dialogue by telling us when we are reporting things wrong and when we’re saying things wrong because you may think this is a Columbia issue, but it’s a national issue. It really is. This is not just happening in Columbia.
Officer: I’m not worried about people out there, I’m worried about people here.
AB: I know you’re not, but the rest of the nation is because it’s happening in their hometown. It happens in my hometown as well. (Second Interviewer:EDW): We appreciate your time sir.