Imagine having the door to your house rammed in, police officers streaming through in order to search for drugs on your property. Now, imagine that you are completely innocent, and the officers had used the wrong address when obtaining a search warrant for your house. That is exactly what happened on April 4, when police officers and sheriff’s deputies in North Carolina barged into the wrong home in search of defendants accused of possession of marijuana.
Officers in Burlington have a little egg on their face after the drug crimes debacle, which occurred as part of an intensive drug investigation that began several months ago. Warrants were also executed at two other houses at the same time that the erroneous search occurred. Authorities say an investigation will be conducted within the department to determine where the mistakes occurred; Burlington police say that consequences are likely forthcoming in the matter.
Representatives from the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office explained that the case had been spearheaded by Burlington officers. As a result, the county officers did not conduct an investigation into the validity of the warrant. Instead, they were only helping to execute the warrant. Those deputies smashed in the home’s door when they did not receive an answer to their knocks. Agency representatives say they have been advised about the damage that was done at the victim’s home, though that person was unable to be reached for comment.
Although the officers reportedly were able to seize marijuana and other objects from the two additional residences, this gaffe has left law enforcement in the agencies with some serious explaining to do. Authorities are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the warrants they execute. Innocent residents of North Carolina should not be menaced by deputies who break down the door and accuse them of possession of marijuana. These law enforcement officers should be held accountable for the serious mistake that occurred.
Source: The Times-News, “City police send deputies to wrong house for drug search” Natalie Allison Janicello, Apr. 17, 2014