David R. Henderson  

Monterey Sheriff Admits that Drug Raids Engender Fear

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PSST and Aggregation... Lessons from the Yellowjacket ...

Yesterday, I wrote the following letter to the Monterey Herald about a local incident that has created a lot of publicity:

If reporter Julia Reynolds quoted Sheriff Miller correctly ("Rights Violated, Sergeant Claims," Herald, July 3), then Miller has made a stunning admission. Sheriff Miller, when warned that narcotics detectives were about to serve a search warrant on his son, contacted his wife to warn her. Why? Ms. Reynolds quotes Miller as saying it was "so that if she heard them breaking in the door, she wouldn't have a heart attack."

I sympathize. Although it has never happened to me, and I hope it doesn't, having the police break down a door must be very scary indeed. Just Google the name Radley Balko and you'll find horror stories from around the country of cops in the drug war routinely breaking down doors and, sometimes, killing family dogs.

But why should Sheriff Miller's wife get special treatment? I won't say that Miller should practice what he preaches. I'd rather he do the opposite: preach what he practices. He should give the rest of us the same warning that he gave his wife. Either that, or adopt the now-quaint style that was practiced by police around the country when the word "swat" was something they did to flies and not humans: knock.

Update: The Herald published my letter this morning, here. (Scroll down to the third letter.) Do you think "Officers should extend courtesy" sums up my most important point? The editor also published his own editorial on the issue, here. You be the judge.


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CATEGORIES: Economics of Crime



COMMENTS (2 to date)
PrometheeFeu writes:

'"Somebody needs to get their facts straight," Miller said. "If the accusation is I somehow gave prior notice, it's repulsive."'

I would find repulsive that he not try to give advance warning to his wife and son when a bunch of armed goons were about to break down the door. You'd have to be a horrid husband and father to not warn your family about people breaking in to their house.

"Warren claims Houser should have notified him in advance about his plans to interrogate him. Under what's commonly called the Police Officers' Bill of Rights, an officer has the right to written notice if an interview might lead to disciplinary action."

Is this a joke? Why do police officers get this benefit? Police officers are entrusted with the power to use violence against citizens. Should this not be balanced with very thorough scrutiny instead of giving them a get out of jail free card?

rpl writes:

From the paper's editorial


...last week's arrest of Jacob Miller, 25, at his apartment on his father's Pacific Grove property

So, what are the chances we'll see civil forfeiture invoked here. I'm guessing pretty slim, right?

"Warren claims Houser should have notified him in advance about his plans to interrogate him. Under what's commonly called the Police Officers' Bill of Rights, an officer has the right to written notice if an interview might lead to disciplinary action."

Is this a joke? Why do police officers get this benefit? Police officers are entrusted with the power to use violence against citizens. Should this not be balanced with very thorough scrutiny instead of giving them a get out of jail free card?


Well, in this case, it sounds as though the Sheriff was trying to use the "disciplinary hearing" to punish the officers who embarrassed him, so I'd say having some protection for the officers is probably a good thing. Should the Sheriff really have carte blanche to intimidate officers that embarrass him by arresting a member of his family? That's not exactly going to lead to impartial application of the law.
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