The Big Raid!: Valley
Police Department, Summer 1992
So the Search Warrant wasn’t a total bust.
to working in Douglas County, if an arrest warrant or search warrant
was ever needed, one had to plead his case to the County Attorney.
If the prosecutor believed he wanted to pursue the matter, his office
would prepare the affidavits and supporting documentation and present
it to the court for review and approval. Typically, this process,
provided the County Attorney was on board, could take anywhere from
two to ten days before one would have the writ in hand.
County had a much more progressive approach to this process. Based
partly on a US Supreme Court Ruling, it recognized that law enforcement
officers were not attorneys, thus the level of scrutiny over technical
errors that might be found in the affidavits for requesting such
writs might not be as intense. You still had to have your facts
straight, and stated in a truthful manner, but since it was assumed
we were just simple cops, they provided us some leeway. Secondly,
while the attorneys might still be there to give advice, this took
a great deal of the labor off of the Prosecutors in generating the
paperwork involved with arrest warrants and search warrants.
not aware of this the first time I needed an arrest warrant in Douglas
County. Fortunately, a secretary from the County Attorney’s
Office provided me with the templates, (and a typewriter,) I could
use to draw up the paperwork. She then handed me off to the Clerk
of the County Court’s Office to take me through the nexts
phase of the process. To make a long story short, in a day, I more
or less learned the whole entire process from end to end, and walked
out of the Courthouse with an arrest warrant in hand.
went on, and I gained more experience, I got better and quicker
at preparing such affidavits, and walking them through the process.
When the Police Department obtained a PC Computer in 1985 or 1986,
this process became much more simple, as I could use ready made
templates, and error correction was nearly automatic. By
1987, Officers from other neighboring agencies were coming to me
to help with the production of their affidavits, and I would school
them on the step by step process unique to their writ, to get them
in and out with ready to serve paper in hand.
nearly all of the towns in Western Douglas County, Southern Dodge,
and Eastern Saunders Counties were suffering from thefts and burglaries
of automotive stereo equipment.* It was believed, (and correctly
so,) that these thefts were being committed by the same group of
individuals. The neighboring Waterloo Police Department believed
that they had a break in the case, when they learned of an individual
known to many of us as Charlie, who resided at King Lake as being
the person who was selling this stolen equipment for the thieves.
Officer Warren Buzek came to me with his reports and information
to help produce an Affidavit for a Search Warrant.
the story about Stupid Criminals for another
angle on this case.)
all of Buzek’s reports and information, and we talked about
a few details before we sat down at the keyboard, and I started
building the document. Warren had some good, reliable information
and all this was presented in a logical and organized fashion within
there are special, extenuating circumstances, Search Warrants can
only be served during the day, and officers must knock on the door
and announce their identity and purpose before serving the warrant.
If there are special, extenuating circumstances where officer safety
or preservation of evidence is concerned, exceptions to these conditions
can be made. This must be spelled out and articulated in the Affidavit
for the Search Warrant for the Judge to consider and approve.
we were nearly done preparing the affidavit, Buzek pointed out that
Charlie had two prior convictions for weapons offenses, and he believed
we could have a “No Knock” Search Warrant authorized
by the Judge. Personally, I did not agree that a “No-Knock”
warrant would be needed or issued for a stolen property case, but
this was Buzek’s Affidavit, and he could certainly make the
argument to the Judge. I added the information to the affidavit,
and Buzek would present the affidavit to the Court the following
arrival to work the following afternoon, I was informed that Buzek
had indeed obtained a No-Knock Search Warrant and that there would
be a 4:00 PM meeting at Waterloo to plan the execution of the warrant.
I was expected to be there.
meeting was Buzek, two Sheriff’s Deputies, Several State Patrol
Road Troopers, including an NSP Sergeant. The overall plan was as
follows: All officers would roll onto the scene at once. Since it
was Buzek’s warrant, he as a uniformed officer would be the
first officer the go through the front door. Since we were technically
in County Jurisdiction, the next officer in would be a uniformed
Sheriff’s Deputy. This was Danny Longwell. Since I did the
labor to prepare the warrant affidavit, I was granted the job as
number three officer through the door. My specific job was to enter
and run to the back of the house to secure the back door. All other
officers were to envelope and surround the house and property.
big moment for the raid arrives, and away we go. We arrive at King
Lake en masse, and proceed directly to Charlie’s residence.
Buzek, takes the lead, followed by Longwell, with me bringing
up the rear. While Charlie is sitting in his easy chair, drinking
a beer, dressed only in his underwear, Buzek flies through the front
door, trips over the ottoman, and lands on the floor! Longwell runs
in behind Buzek, and trips over Buzek and also lands on the floor!
While Charlie is sitting stunned in his chair, to see cops literally
falling into his living room, I came running up, vaulting over and
past the pile of cops on the floor, continuing to the back of the
house, kicking open what I thought was the back door only to find
Charlie’s wife sitting on the toilet!
the dust settled, the organized search began. None of the stolen
electronic equipment that Buzek was looking for was found, but we
did find and recovered a stolen motorcycle. So the Search Warrant
wasn’t a total bust, and Buzek was at least able to arrest
Charlie for something.
Purple Sage Law Enforcement