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.



  1. Anonymous on

    Where does the massive funding of Congress’s war on drugs come from? They taxed American citizens and then did whatever they pleased with it, like paying a bunch of DEA agents. Is the DEA crucial to the welfare of America? Considering that they haven’t put the slightest dent in the drug trade and instead put a bunch of Americans in prison for decades for doing next to nothing, like selling plant growing equipment, I’d have to say that all that tax money was wasted and used to oppress innocent American citizens instead. Since the DEA and drug prohibition have been shown not to help in the general welfare of Americans in the least and in fact destroyed numerous lives for nothing its existence and federal funding by taxes are clearly violations of the Constitution.

  2. Anonymous on

    Notice the last sentence in Jefferson’s quote. That is exactly what Congress was doing when it enacted Cannabis prohibition;

    Jefferson; “they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.”

    This shows us just how far Congress has strayed from the intentions of the founding fathers, they are now doing the exact opposite of what Thomas Jefferson told them they could do. I think that’s commonly referred to as “violating the Constitution of the United States of America and spitting on Thomas Jefferson’s grave”.

  3. Anonymous on

    The US feds probably think that the general welfare clause in the tax and spending clause allows them to make laws to protect its citizens from the killer weed. Well, Thomas Jefferson said otherwise and I’m inclined to believe him over modern politicians when it come to interpreting the Constitution but perhaps the President and Congress would like to appear in the Supreme Court and argue that their own interpretations are far more valid than that of Thomas Jefferson. The following quote is from

    “The United States Constitution contains two references to “the General Welfare”, one occurring in the Preamble and the other in the Taxing and Spending Clause. It is only the latter that is referred to as the “General Welfare Clause” of this document. However, it has been argued that, in the case of the United States Constitution, the statement regarding the “general welfare” was not then and is not now intended to give plenary power to the federal government.[2] These clauses in the U.S. Constitution are exceptions to the typical use of a general welfare clause, and are not considered grants of a general legislative power to the federal government as the U.S. Supreme Court has held:

    * the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution “has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States or on any of its Departments”;[3][4] and,
    * that Associate Justice Joseph Story’s construction of the Article I, Section 8 General Welfare Clause—as elaborated in Story’s 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States—was the correct interpretation.[5][6] Justice Story concluded that the General Welfare Clause was not an independent grant of power, but a qualification on the taxing power which included within it a power to spend tax revenues on matters of general interest to the federal government.

    Thomas Jefferson explained the latter general welfare clause for the United States: “[T]he laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.”

  4. Anonymous on

    Not much point talking to the average cop about such disproportionate responses to Cannabis offenses. They have all been thoroughly brainwashed at the Police Academy. Any divergence from the party line is quickly disciplined.

    Now I’d like to address the US federal raids. As is common knowledge to anyone who has ever read the US Constitution, Congress has limited powers of lawmaking. See this quote from

    “Federal law

    Federal law originates with the Constitution, which gives Congress the power to enact statutes for certain limited purposes like regulating interstate commerce. Nearly all statutes have been codified in the United States Code. Many statutes give executive branch agencies the power to create regulations, which are published in the Federal Register and codified into the Code of Federal Regulations. Regulations generally also carry the force of law under the Chevron doctrine. Many lawsuits turn on the meaning of a federal statute or regulation, and judicial interpretations of such meaning carry legal force under the principle of stare decisis.

    In the beginning, federal law traditionally focused on areas where there was an express grant of power to the federal government in the federal Constitution, like the military, money, foreign affairs (especially international treaties), tariffs, intellectual property (specifically patents and copyrights), and mail. Since the start of the 20th century, aggressive interpretations of the Commerce and Spending Clauses of the Constitution have enabled federal law to expand into areas like aviation, telecommunications, railroads, pharmaceuticals, antitrust, and trademarks.”

    Now, I ask you how Cannabis prohibition fits in the category of Commerce and Spending. It appears that they somehow managed to sneak “pharmaceuticals” in there. Well, maybe in regard to the commerce of selling it, like when they put the ridiculously high tax on hemp, but now they have simply stated that it is illegal to even possess or grow it. How can it be an item of commerce when it is completely prohibited to even possess in the first place? They know very well that such a law is unconstitutional and can in no way be shoehorned into the Commerce and Spending Clauses of the Constitution. The US Congress have simply decided that they can now ban anything they want, just because they say so, with no scientific or logical basis whatsoever. So now Congress has declared that it is a power unto itself and they can rule the lives of every US citizen at their personal whim and throw then in prison for ridiculous lengths of time for growing a completely harmless and even beneficial plant. Therefore, Cannabis prohibition is a giant advertisement to the world that US Congress is now above the Constitution and can outlaw anything by saying that it is part of the Commerce and Spending Clauses of the Constitution, even when it obviously is not, and then violate your constitutional right to freedom by throwing you in prison with the ludicrous mandatory minimum sentences that they also somehow managed to sneak through the system of supposed checks and balances after all of the experts and committees told them that it was counterproductive and downright wrong.

    This is why everybody hates the US federal government, even their own bullied and robbed citizens, whose opinions they really couldn’t care less about. Strange how America managed to get by before the 1930s with Cannabis being readily available without legal consequences and now Congress is under the impression that it is such a threat to society that they have to lock people up for decades because of it. Did it suddenly morph into a dangerous narcotic? Federal Cannabis prohibition is probably the single worst example of Congress being out of control and flagrantly violating the Constitution. It is an embarrassment to the whole notion of a democratic and free society. The fact that the UN supports and encourages it is not only an embarrassment to international democracy but to the intelligence of politicians of the world in general. Apparently, not one country in the UN has a leader with any brains at all. A worrying revelation indeed. Those are the people controlling the nukes. God save us all, because no politician on Earth will.

  5. h4x354x0r on

    Have you watched the video?

    Technically, the raid wasn’t “botched”. The actual execution of the raid was probably reasonably well done.

    There is a fair amount of evidence that this raid was done as a “training” raid with some rookies. However the guy that chased down and shot the dog was a seasoned veteran. The first bang was a shot intended for the 8-month old pit bull mix puppy. It hit a corgi mix in the paw instead. At that point, the pit bull puppy ran and tried to hide in the kitchen. 6 more shots were required to kill the dog as it cowered in a corner of the kitchen.

    As ugly as the aggressive shooting of a fleeing dog was, the real issue is the fact that they knew a child was in the house at the time. At first the CPD spokespeople lied about it, saying they didn’t know. But the chief finally fessed up and said they did know.

    Sorry, but I’m very concerned about so many obviously poorly targeted shots fired in a household where a child was known to be. It was only a week after this video broke when another police raid in Detroit killed a similarly aged girl named Aiyana Jones. The adrenaline, the confusion, and the aggression of an armed home invasion are the perfect ingredients for a horrible and tragic mistake like that to be made. All for some pot? Or, more realistically after waiting 8 days from the warrant signature, for the cash, not the pot?

    The police have been so adamant that they absolutely KNEW he had pot, that they sound far more like a jilted business partner than anything else. But the fact remains that the guy wasn’t a Scarface or Nino Brown. They couldn’t find the pot, or any cash, or scales or baggies, or any firearms. All they found was a low-level pot smoker with a pipe fetish (there were a total of like 6 pipes found).

  6. War Veteran on

    Agree with you. I can understand botched up raids when dealing with bombs –neighborhoods that are known to have access to anti-aircraft guns, AK’s, masked men all around with guns, One RPG with explosives for every 80-90 people in the area etc. That’s the pucker factor (when the sphincter closes due to fear and anticipation). I can see something like this happening around South Park Houston or Watts but not in comfy America. Something tells me that the officers on the SWAT team weren’t properly trained or certified for ‘kick down door’ operations like I am. If they were properly lined up against the wall at a low silhouette with your back man –then the gunshots wouldn’t have happened –did they not touch each other’s legs or shoulders for a ‘Go’ in each area of the house or did they just ghetto rig the event? Did they not stay lined up leg to leg and foot to foot or did they get out of close reach line-up to do their own thing? Sounds like the cops where negligent when it came to their own safety if this home owner was some sort of Scarface or Nino Brown.

  7. h4x354x0r on

    There are 4 key elements missing from the “dealer” angle that numerous people still insist on accusing Mr. Whitworth of:

    1) Tools of the trade – scales, packaging supplies. The raid cited 2 “smelly” duffel bags and a smelly safe found, but those items were not confiscated as evidence. There were no scales or packaging supplies.
    2) Significant amounts of drugs – all they found was seeds and residue.
    3) Significant amounts of cash – and this is really important. No drugs, AND no cash. And no, I don’t think Whitworth is smart enough to successfully launder the money in his business.
    4) Firearms – This is actually a red herring. It’s what always gets cited as the reason for heavily armed raids, but as in Whitworth’s case, no firearms were found.

    The two informant tips that led to the raid were made 6 months apart. Only one informant tip was even remotely recent. When I step back and look at the totality of circumstance, I come to the conclusion that CPD either really wasn’t paying any attention and was just eager for some action, or that Whitworth was actually being harassed / intimidated for not cooperating with sting / snitch operations. No matter how you cut it, CPD was wrong, wrong, and wrong on on all counts of supposed “intelligence.”

    And the comeback to that is, “Well, we can never be 100% certain, so being totally wrong is perfectly OK.” Um, no, it’s not. If anyone else performed such sloppy work, they would be fired from their jobs. The facts on the Whitworth raid remain:

    The premise of the raid is wrong
    The investigation leading to the raid was nonexistent or horribly botched
    The warrant was rubber stamped by a careless, clueless judge
    The violence carried out during the raid was excessive. The officer actually chased down a fleeing 8-month old puppy in a pink sweater to shoot it as it cowered in the corner. 7 shots were fired in the proximity of child, and only 2 of those shots were really “on target.”

    To be fair, both Burton (chief) and Dresner (assistant chief) have made changes in response to this, and have done significant community outreach as well. There are a few very disgruntled cops at CPD because of the changes. We’re moving in the right direction.

    What remains a problem is that what happened really is perfectly legal, and really was ‘according to procedure’ at the time. That still needs to change.

  8. Anonymous on

    the seargent is leading on that this guy had prior confrontation with the law.
    and they used the swat team and the apparent tip offs about dealing to go to his place to bust him.
    it was not as simple as, this guy might have a roach lets go in guns blazing. shoot his dog.
    it was as simple as, we know this guy, we want him, we can use swat to get him. it seems almost personal.
    oh no, he only has a roach we have media attention..

    do your research on what the warrant request included. if it was only based on the possibility of dealing. this was foul.
    they would not want to admit to the media that they sought vengeance with a swat team. you heard him, no judge would sign a swat warrant for a roach.