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.