Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(| Tribune file photo) Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
Editorial: Rethink weaponry in police searches

Shurtleff raises a valid point.

First Published Jun 06 2014 04:52 pm • Last Updated Jun 08 2014 01:13 pm

It would not be the proudest day for Utah’s law enforcement establishment if the only thing that makes it stand back and take a look at whether its tactics for serving search warrants are needlessly violent is a raid on a rich white man with a lawyer.

Or a rich white man who is a lawyer. Who was, for 12 years, Utah’s top lawyer. And who, because he is the target of multiple ethics and influence peddling investigations, is fully lawyered-up, full-throated in his denials and clearly not going down without a fight.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

They should think about it anyway.

The fight that is in former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has not been of the you’ll-never-take-me-alive-coppers variety. The history of the sad saga involving Shurtleff, his successor John Swallow and the shady business cronies who are rolling over on them suggested it would all be played out on paper, in the media and, ultimately, in court.

So it is understandable that Shurtleff is angrily telling all who will listen that the federal and local officers who served a search warrant on his Sandy home Monday were way out of line when — if — they came in with assault rifles aimed and laser sights pointed at his teen-age daughter.

The official responses to Shurtleff’s charges have been rather generic, insisting that officers involved followed standard procedure and "utilized the minimum force necessary." Swallow, whose home was also raided Monday, said there was no such display of force at his residence.

Shurtleff, who should know, claims that white collar investigations such as his are not generally accompanied by such displays of heavy weaponry. Experts who are not involved in the case back him up, saying that such a show of force is only justified when there is reason to believe the person being served is likely to be violent.

But there are other examples of police raids where weapons were brandished in the homes of people who were clearly no threat to officers — because the officers were raiding the wrong home — or targets who only became a threat when confronted by an unknown mob of people with guns.

An example of the latter case is the 2012 botched drug raid on the Ogden home of small-time marijuana grower Matthew Stewart. One officer was killed in the needless firefight that followed the foolish incursion. Stewart was seriously injured and later committed suicide in jail.

We don’t want our law enforcement officers taking a paper clip to a gun fight. But we don’t want them starting a gun fight, or daring someone else to start one, where none is necessary. And they are very seldom necessary.


story continues below
story continues below



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.