Monday, July 28, 2008

To Protect And Serve

Police in Sarasota, Florida willfully put an entire McDonald’s worth of customers at risk so the cops could add another notch to their drug-arrest bedpost:

Undercover police officers stormed a McDonald's restaurant and ordered diners and employees to the ground as they tried to catch a suspected cocaine dealer Thursday [July 10].

The Sarasota police officers were dressed in black, carried rifles and wore masks when they ran into the restaurant on the corner of Beneva and Fruitville roads. They burst through the door at dinner time, yelled for patrons to hide under tables and chased a 24-year-old man who hid in a bathroom.

It was a drug sting that went bad because of a milkshake.

Police say the arrest would have gone smoother if the suspect, Juan T. Dixon, had not stopped at the door of the restaurant to go back and grab his shake from the counter.

It was supposed to work like this: A confidential informant and an undercover detective waited inside the restaurant to sell Dixon an ounce of cocaine and 100 Ecstasy pills for $950.

(Don’t try this yourselves. Having that many drugs in your possession is a very serious crime, unless you’re a cop selling the drugs so you can arrest the people who buy them from you.) The story goes on to explain:

More than a dozen officers waited outside, including Lt. Steve Breakstone, who organized the operation. His role was to radio for squad cars to drive up for the arrest once the deal was complete.

The uniformed officers were supposed to swoop in and arrest Dixon in the parking lot. The deal, according to reports, went as planned -- with Breakstone calling for the squad cars when Dixon was about to leave.

Then, the milkshake.

With the squad cars zooming into the parking lot, Dixon turned around to get his drink from the counter.

When he got back to the door, he saw the cars waiting for him and, realizing he was about to be arrested, he ran for the bathroom.

He shoved a boy out of the way and hid inside.

The police officers burst through the door and yelled for everyone to get down. A customer, a woman who did not want her name used, ducked under a table and worried that the masked men were robbers, not police.

"I thought it was a gang," she said. "I mean, they had masks and guns and I never heard anyone say, 'police.' I thought these guys were coming to rob us."

Undercover officers routinely wear masks during drug buys to conceal their identities.

Some might say that law-enforcement agents in free countries don’t hide their faces from the citizenry, especially not where terrorizing members of same. But the Sarasota police say it was necessary because:

Breakstone and Sarasota Police Chief Peter Abbott say officers had no choice but to rush into the restaurant because they thought Dixon was armed and might flush the drugs down a toilet or barricade himself in the restroom.

"We had to go get him, or this thing could have been much worse," Breakstone said.

(Yeah, if Dixon flushed the drugs the cops would need a new stash for their next raid.)

Breakstone and Abbott would not say whether detectives or the suspect chose the McDonald's as the location for the deal.

There were no injuries. Dixon was arrested and jailed on drug trafficking charges.

According to police reports, he still had the drugs on him when he was arrested.

But no weapons. The cops didn’t send a dozen armed masked men into a busy restaurant to pick up a dangerous man who was threatening others. The police sent in a dozen armed masked men so they could brag about another drug bust. And save their stash for the next one.


Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

As a good friend of mine tells me, you can't have a police state without having police.

The masks remind me of the New Caprica cops on Battlestar Galactica. They wore masks to keep them safe from reprisals because they were serving the Cylons, a race of evil machines. But the cops in this country serve the justice system, a group of self centered politicians. Evil machines, self serving politicians... not much of a difference I guess.

5:53 AM  
Anonymous Lord Humongus said...

I also wish for an anarchy state with no police. I'm 6'5", very strong and have a bunch of weapons, I'll be just fine, How about you?

6:08 AM  
Blogger Dave-o-ramA said...

Thank you, Captain False Dichotomy!

What would we do without you?

9:02 AM  
Blogger Caveman Lawyer said...

Wow Lord Humongous, your size and weapon cache is impressive. Oh wait. This is the Internet. It's far more likely that you are a 5'10" 160 pound milquetoast with nothing more than a cheep Samurai sword you bought at a Renaissance Festival in your arsenal.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous lord humongus said...

Is my webcam on!!!???
I hate when I do that!

5:42 AM  

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