Update: Police Chief: Officers were within policy
Thu, 20 May 2010 18:45:48 GMT —
Update: 5:00 p.m.
A Columbia Police Department internal affairs investigation shows the actions of their SWAT team were appropriate when they forced their way into Columbia home during a failed drug raid.
Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton released the findings of the report involving a search warrant that received worldwide attention.
Burton said his officers followed policy and the law during a February drug raid that was captured on video and circulated around the world on the internet. Burton also said his officers should do things differently in the future so this type of incident doesn TMt happen again.
I actually have no issue with apologizing for what happened that night, as long as it is made clear that the officers were acting under what they believed was proper protocol and procedure, Burton said.
Burton changed several search warrant policies because of the incident at the home of Jonathon Whitworth. In most cases, Columbia SWAT teams will now serve warrants within eight hours of receipt. It took eight days to serve the warrant associated with the police video.
Columbia TMs SWAT team will not use forced entry if children are present, except under extreme circumstances.
One thing that remains the same is the department TMs policy on the use of force against animals. Officers shot and the killed the family pit bull during the Whitworth raid. Burton plans to buy eight more helmet cameras for his SWAT team so every member wears one during every raid. Police critics said the changes are a move in the right direction.
The fact that it was photographed and that there was video of it has made people realize how much violence is being used to investigate non-violent crimes, ACLU attorney Dan Viets said.
While members of the SWAT team are not in trouble, a young police officer is under investigation. On the night of the incident, that officer lied to a neighbor of the defendant and said the raid was a training exercise, when he should have said he didn TMt know what was happening.
Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said at a press conference Thursday that police offers did nothing wrong during a drug raid.
The Columbia Police Department has been under scrutiny after a video circulating the internet shows an S.W.A.T. team drug raid during the forced entry of Jonathan Whitworth TMs home where the family pitbull was shot and killed. (See Video) See summary of the raid video
An internal investigation of the raid showed that the officers followed policies and procedures that were in place at the time. Burton also said that the officers' use of force against the animals were within policy. See the internal investigation results
Burton announced policy and procedure changes last week to the way S.W.A.T. serves search warrants. Burton said his new SWAT policies are now some of the most restrictive in the United States. (Read Story) See drug search warrant policy changes
Burton said that Columbia police officers have been receiving death threats through phone calls and e-mails from all over the world because the police video of the raid is available online.