Monday, October 24th, 2016

Is this a case of the police going to military-style tactics unnecessarily?


A number of libertarians and others have commented in recent years on the militarization of local police forces. Locally Nick Schweitzer likes to spend a lot of his time on the issue. Let’s add another case to the file.

Recently WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee reported that a temporary Greenfield resident, Dawn Dewane, was arrested for threatening to shoot up a college graduation in Irvine, CA. As it turns out, I happen to know Dawn relatively well as we were good friends in college, although we haven’t kept in touch except on Facebook since she moved out to California. I even stood up at Dawn’s wedding. So seeing this story on the news was a bit shocking.

A search warrant and police report show that Dewane threatened to kill students at the University of California-Irvine at graduation. The search warrants said she anonymously emailed UC-Irvine, saying she was going to kill students in her husband’s class, and would “ruin graduation.” Officials said she had been threatening violence for a year.

Dewane allegedly threatened to kill the students because she was mad at a female student she believed had an affair with her husband. Police said Dewane is originally from Wisconsin, and lives here now, but just recently moved back from California. At one point she bragged through an anonymous email that she stockpiled guns and ammunition. Greenfield Police, UC-Irvine Police, and the SWAT Team raided her apartment and arrested her Tuesday morning.

Police seized computers and hard drives, but never founds the guns or ammunition she claimed to have. She was arrested without incident.

Obviously, I’m praying for my friend and her husband at this terrible time. I sincerely hope that the charges are unfounded, and if they turn out to be true that Dawn gets the help that she needs.

I don’t know if she did what she’s been accused of. I don’t know any of the details of the case except what has been reported.

However, I can tell you that Dawn is about five-foot-nothing (if that) and weighs about as much as a child. She’s terribly asthmatic and I believe she has vision problems in one eye. For her, firing a weapon of any kind would likely be a scene out of a Warner Brothers cartoon. Since the police spent a great deal of time investigating the case, these are things that they might have learned ahead of time before using a SWAT team to storm her residence and arrest her.

Apparently it never occurred to them to conduct a search for the alleged stockpile of weapons while she was out of her apartment, especially since she was over 2000 miles away from the alleged targets. It’s not like the alleged intended victims in Irvine, California, were in any immediate danger.

It’s not like she was barricaded in. She was allegedly going to various local businesses with wi-fi and sending messages from there.

Instead, they sent the SWAT team in. Fortunately, she wasn’t armed, did not have a stockpile of weapons, and was easily taken into custody.

Here’s the interesting question. What if the Greenfield police department’s worst fears had been true? Then sending the SWAT team in just made a situation unnecessarily dangerous, didn’t it? They went in not knowing what she had to defend herself when there were doubtless opportunities to gain that information ahead of time. The officers placed themselves at risk and the civilians in the area at risk.

If you’re going to run the police department like a military organization, then at least ascertain as much military intelligence about the situation before storming someone’s home like it’s the O.K. Corral.

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