In Johnson County, Law Enforcement May Be Scarier than the Bad Guys
The Kansas City Star
Remember when the police used to raid your neighbors’ apartments in the middle of the night, dragging out the men and boys? Or maybe you can recall when uniformed agents randomly arrested people off the street, just to keep the public on their toes?
Okay, maybe you don’t remember these things, unless you lived in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. But more recently the Harte family in Leawood got a real live taste of how it felt.
I won’t go into details about the raid – if you haven’t heard about it just Google: “Harte Leawood Swat Raid.” Throw in the word “Gestapo” and you’ll get even more hits.
The mistaken pre-dawn raid on this family’s home was bad enough, but what’s really disturbing is the way the Johnson County Sheriff’s department has responded. Meaning, there’s been no response. According to them it maybe never happened. Or if it did happen, they won’t say what it was or why, because they don’t have to.
So they spy on an innocent family, going so far as to peruse their trash, then they burst into their home in a pre-dawn raid, turn the house upside down in pursuit of drugs, and when it’s all said and done they inform the family they found nothing, and by the way, you better watch out. Bye.
If you don’t believe me, try calling the Sheriff’s department. Or contact your commissioner if you live in Johnson County. You’ll hear nothing. If you’re old enough to remember Hogan’s Heroes, it might remind you of Sergeant Shultz from Stalag 13: “I know nothing! I see nothing!”
Maybe Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning is an old fan of Sergeant Shultz. But more than likely he’s convinced the Harte’s pulled a fast one on him, impersonating marijuana growers by purchasing hydroponic equipment from a Kansas City gardening store. How were their intelligence officers supposed to know it was for growing a few spindly tomato plants? (Apparently the tomatoes didn’t do that well either.)
No doubt the Harte family is not the first around town to get this treatment from local law enforcement. The only difference is that they do live in Leawood, and they know a bit about intelligence work (both parents are retired CIA), and they have the means to stand up for themselves. But most don’t and that’s what’s really sad about this.
We like to think our local police officials are good guys, and respect the rights of the citizens they protect. And most of us assume that when they target somebody with a raid, that person probably did something to warrant it.
Makes you realize how thin that blue line is between protection and persecution.
Is it possible that crime rates in Johnson County have grown so low that residents have more to fear from their police than the criminals?
After the Sandy Hook shootings, Sheriff Denning posted a statement on his website stating that he would never support any action that limited a citizen’s access to guns, because it contravened our constitution and the Bill of Rights, documents he called “sacred”.
That’s good to know. Especially if you live in a county where the sheriff’s department apparently believes itself above these sacred rights.