If the police were looking for the type of person that would post threats on a comment section of a blog, what do you think is the first thing they would do? Maybe they would attempt to identify that person and talk to them about the threats—determining if they were nothing more than snarky Internet trolling gone-bad or if there was a legitimate threat. Or maybe they would just bring the SWAT team in and bust out a window and door where the suspect may or may not be hiding.
Evansville police opted for the second option and they even invited a local television crew to document the whole thing.
The problem with their plan of attack—they moved in on the wrong home, interrupting one 18-year old resident’s evening of television and no doubt frightening her grandmother who was also present.
The front door of the home on East Powell Ave. was wide open. In other words, the police could have looked in and had a normal conversation with the occupants. Instead, they tossed a flash-bang grenade through the window and broke down the storm door.
They were looking for computer equipment used to post threats online. The Department said the threats, posted in the comment section on Topix.com, were specific and targeted at least one police officer and his family.
Upon entering the home on Powell Ave., cops determined there weren’t any viable suspects. They still confiscated the resident’s laptop and cell phone, however, before leaving.
Evansville police stand behind their actions and the mayor reportedly does too.
Sergeant Jason Cullum, a police department spokesman said, “This may be just somebody who was online talking stupid. What I would suggest to anybody who visits websites like that is that their comments can be taken literally.”
In other words, don’t get to big for your britches online, or you might find your door broken in by an armed SWAT team. That is, of course, if they can get the address right.
Tactics like this are becoming more and more common in the world of policing and crime. Cops are more likely to use militaristic methods now than ever before, and all of this comes with risks.
Despite this, you have rights. Even when you are suspected of a crime and even when you are guilty of a crime, you have rights.