The Washington Post’s Radley Balko took notice to former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff‘s complaints about the recent law-enforcement raid on his house, and he used the opportunity to point out how Shurtleff was a supporter of police raids for other people, committing other crimes.
From his book, Balco quotes:
In August 2005, more than 90 police officers from several state and local SWAT teams raided 1,500 people at a peaceful, outdoor dance party in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah. The police were armed with assault weapons, full SWAT attire, police dogs, tear gas, and dressed in camouflage. Many attendees say that police beat, abused, and swore them and fellow partygoers. Police denied the allegations, though amateur video/audio clearly showed the police barking out orders laced with profanity. In truth, the party was pretty well run. Private security stationed outside the event searched partygoers as they entered, and took any illegal drugs they found. The raiding SWAT cops later arrested the private security guards for the drugs they had confiscated, and charged them with possession.
Balko goes on to note that Shurtleff saw no problem with the raid and that:
Shurtleff was also in office during a period that saw a dramatic increase in the use of SWAT teams and the militarization of domestic police in Utah. In 2000, he opposed an important ballot initiative to rein in the abuse of civil asset forfeiture, the absurd legal doctrine that lets police seize and keep cash, cars, houses and other property without ever convicting the owner of a crime. The practice has been a major funder of police militarization.
Now that it’s happened to him and his successor John Swallow, he’s taken a different tone. This is not surprising. In fact, politicians often change their stance on issues when something happens to bring it closer to home. Maybe current Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and other state leaders will look into the increase in police militarization and re-examine their approach to local law enforcement. Or they could just say, “You made your bed, now lie in it.”