CenterPoint Energy Thinks Your Fish Tank Is A Meth Lab, So Police Kick In Your Door

You’d think between the reactionary CenterPoint Energy subcontractor who smelled vinegar and got worried, the police officer who asked for a search warrant, and the new-to-the-bench judge who signed the warrant, someone would have stopped to say, “Wait, what exactly did you smell? Something vinegary, huh? Yeah, that’s not a meth lab.” (After all, we were able to find two decent descriptions of what a meth lab smells like in less than a minute.) Instead, a 54-year-old former nurse and her 49-year-old husband were handcuffed and told to sit in their living room and not speak to each other while the warrant was executed.

“Ohmigod,” Adams said as she recalled police breaking down her door and flashing the search warrant. “I just kept saying to them, ‘you’ve got the wrong house.’ “
 
Roehl said the drug task force was acting on a tip from a subcontractor for CenterPoint Energy, who had been in the home Friday to install a hot water heater.
 
“He got hit with a chemical smell that he said made him light headed, feel kind of nauseous,” Roehl said.
 
The smell was vinegar, and maybe pickling lime, which were clearly marked in a bathroom Mr. Adams uses to mix chemicals for his salt water fish tank.
 
“I said, ‘I call it his laboratory for his fish tanks,’ ” Mrs. Adams said, recalling her conversation with the CenterPoint technician. “I’m looking at the fish tank talking to this guy.”
 
Police say there was no extended investigation, just an interview with the subcontractor.

“Police raid suspected meth house, only find fish tank” [Kare 11] (Thanks to Kristopher!)
(Photo: seanmcgrath)

Comments

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  1. noquarter says:

    No, those things did not happen to me.

  2. Manok says:

    simple mistake, sorry bout the door. Have a nice night.

  3. OK, if the guy was installing a hot water heater, wouldn’t that normally involve a torch, which even I know is a no-no in the meth lab. I always heard kerosene was used the the process somehow. Not that I know much about Meth production.

  4. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Similar things happen quite often actually. This is what when you give police para-military powers & an excuse to suspect anyone (War on Drugs). Welcome to your police state America, you’ve obviously been wanting it for the past 30 years or so, so here it comes.

    If you think I’m just spouting bullshit, here’s your sign:
    [www.cato.org]

  5. Buran says:

    I’d hope CPE will be paying for that door.

  6. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    CenterPoint pays for the door and refunds water heater install. Case closed in my book. Chalk it up to a dumb contractor.

    Maybe they have a legal case against them for slander though?

  7. Gokuhouse says:

    The guy who called the tip in should be fired. It doesn’t matter if he “thought” he was helping to protect the community. He called in a tip, he deals with the consequences like those poor people who were humiliated because of his blatant stupidity.

  8. BStu says:

    How do they have the right to cuff people when all they have is a search warrent? That’s legal?

    Screw ups up and down the line here. Indeed, I’d say CenterPoint Energy did the least wrong, except that they seem the most defensive about declaring they did nothing wrong. Its ultimately the police’s responsibility to investigate the validity of the subcontractor’s concerns. But CPE needs to stop attacking the innocent victims here while defending themselves. That’s bizarre and goes further than the cops who manage to admit no fault without scapegoating the fish enthusiasts.

  9. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Jaysyn: *This is what occurs when you give police…

    Oops

  10. SOhp101 says:

    Vinegar smell = meth lab? who knew?

    Before you know it, Pickling factories everywhere will be shut down for the WAR ON DRUGS!

  11. ehrgeiz says:

    You know I think I smell something, all the cash from a lawsuit.

  12. blackmage439 says:

    @Jaysyn: I second that. It’s one thing to want to keep people safe. It’s another to persecute the innocent, and those that deal only with substances less deadly than legally-obtainable ones (marijuana vs cigs). Not only that, but to waste billions in the process on costly drug wars in South America while killer substances like Ecstasy barely get noticed, is unbearable. I hate this Administration…

  13. John Whorfin says:

    Police State in the USA?

  14. Saboth says:

    @Gokuhouse:

    I believe “tipsters” like that are immune to prosecution or some such. It has to do with them supposedly being on the lookout for terrorists, child porn, drugs…etc…etc… (all the stuff the government wants you to believe are huge epidemics so that you grant the government more authority to spy on American citizens).

  15. SkokieGuy says:

    Under the guise of ‘Homeland Security’ the government has asked people typically in people’s homes (utility workers and fire department personnel for example) to keep their eyes open for suspicious items and activities.

    While law enforcement needs a warrant, this in effect, is warrantless syping in our homes, yet another shredding of the Constitution.

    Sorry I could quickly find a better reference, but here’s a link to an article about “Home Agents” [www.associatedcontent.com]

    The very basics of our Constitution means and are most precious freedoms are being stolen from us, and meanwhile the media debates lapel pins and American Idol fairness.

    Has any major media outlet asked the three major candidates, if they are elected, will they take a pledge to not pardon any members of the previous administration? Not that I’ve heard.

    Any discussion of the loss of our Constitutionally protected freedoms? Not that I’ve heard.

    Have you?

  16. Dobernala says:

    The judge who authorized this warrant and the subcontractor should both be brought up on charges and be made to serve some kind of jail sentence.

    This isn’t an “honest mistake”, this is the kind of malfeasance that gets people killed.

    I’d like to know how a funny smell qualifies as probable cause to perform a search. Where is the justice? Who is going to be held accountable (hint: nobody).

  17. htrodblder says:

    Was it really nessessary to kick in the door? A simple knock, can we come in? would have worked. Nobody can hide a meth lap/ fish tank that fast..

  18. Corydon says:

    Hmm…according to the Illinois AG website:

    DEAD VEGETATION – Meth makers sometimes dump toxic substances in their yards, leaving burn pits, “dead spots” in the grass or vegetation, or other evidence of chemical dumping.

    (I had a small accident when I was fertilizing my lawn a couple weeks ago, which left a brown spot)

    COVERED WINDOWS – Meth makers often blacken or cover windows to prevent outsiders from seeing in.

    (My other half works nights and puts towels over the windows to keep sunlight out while sleeping)

    SMOKING OUTSIDE – By the same token, residents of houses and other structures containing meth labs often go outside to smoke.

    (My other half goes outside to smoke because he knows I don’t like the smell)

    I must be running a meth lab! I’m currently awaiting the police to show up and handcuff me to the chair while they search my house.

    Here’s a word to the wise kids: don’t make any mistakes when fertilizing your yard this spring if you don’t want Deputy Dawg showing up! And God forbid you have too many friends come over to visit!

  19. mgy says:

    I’m from Missouri where there’s a meth lab in every other house, but my philosophy is still to just mind my own business. Some of you activist types may not like it, and I’m alright with that.

    Also, when I worked at Best Buy, they specifically warned us against individuals purchasing more than something like 5 packs of batteries, even when they were on sale. Its difficult to try to justify calling the manager when some grandmother is purchasing an electronic which requires an obnoxious amount of batteries anyways, so I ignored it.

  20. Dobernala says:

    Police were executing a search warrant signed by Hennepin County Judge Ivy Bernhardson, who believed there was probable cause the Adams’s home was a meth lab.

    Berhardson, who was appointed to the bench less than a year ago, did not return KARE 11’s phone calls.

    Perhaps someone would like to call in a tip on the dishonorable “judge”. I seriously think he has been smoking something to authorize the warrant.

  21. johnva says:

    Frankly I don’t think any tip from a worker like that should have been sufficient grounds to issue a search warrant unless he actually saw a meth lab, drugs, etc in the home. A chemical smell could be anything, and the judge should have denied the request for a warrant. I think the biggest problem is judges not standing up to the cops when they ask for a warrant on flimsy evidence.

  22. MikeGrenade says:

    @SkokieGuy: You must not have heard, the Constitution is just a “goddamned piece of paper.”

  23. kbarrett says:

    I’ve got to the point where I don’t want anyone near my door.

    “No Soliciting”, and a black tack on the door frame ( door-to-door missionary code for “a psycho lives here” ).

    You just about have to go through your house and sanitize it, as well as closing all the interior doors, before inviting anyone in

  24. Wormfather says:

    I blame the victim only because it’s an outlet to get mad at my fiancee who insists on cleaning the floors with vineger, feels like I’m living in a god damned salad (sounds like a good nightmare). I say, bring on the real chemicals, clorox, amonia, etc FTW. So what if we have a dog, it’s good for his paws.

    Of course I’d never have the guts to say this to her, so here I am, trolling.

    /troll

  25. MrEvil says:

    I find it funny, this kind of garbage is just the tip of the iceberg that was our rationale for hating the Russians during the 50’s and 60’s. Now look at what’s become of us, we’ve become the very monsters we once so despised, it almost brought us armageddon.

  26. Shaftoe says:

    We want Tuttle

  27. Juggernaut says:

    I used to put vinegar in my fish tank too. One day, when I was having my TV calibrated, this snakehead jumped out of the tank, took my weed, kicked me in the nuts and stole my bike… I only wish someone had called the cops…

  28. Aphex242 says:

    @Wormfather: SO with you, dude.

  29. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @blackmage439:

    …Killer substances such as alcohol…

    There, I fixed that for you. Ecstacy isn’t harmless, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a report of someone who died from an MDMA overdose. Overdosing on something you thought was MDMA isn’t an MDMA overdose. Water Toxicity isn’t an MDMA overdose. Heat Exhaustion isn’t an MDMA overdose. In the first instance the “War on Drugs” actually makes the situation worse becuase the illegality of MDMA makes it much more profitable to sell. It was sold legally over the counter until the mid 80’s. MDMA is probably one of the safest Schedule I drugs availible at your local highschool & is still prescribed medically.

    Please do a little research before you start posting misinformation.

  30. KyleOrton says:

    @Corydon: Be a good, red-blooded American and call in the tip yourself. Your country needs you.

  31. @BStu: While I think this was pretty abusive, the fact is that if they WERE meth cooks (and therefore probably meth users), the house is in constant danger of blowing up, and meth addicts are notoriously violent and unpredictable.

    @kbarrett: “black tack on the door frame ( door-to-door missionary code for “a psycho lives here” ).”

    Dude, what?

  32. dogmaratt says:

    @Corydon:

    “DEAD VEGETATION – Meth makers sometimes dump toxic substances in their yards, leaving burn pits, “dead spots” in the grass or vegetation, or other evidence of chemical dumping.”

    This is also the sign of an underground natural gas leak, of all things… ;)

  33. thalia says:

    Sounds similar. Last spring, out landlords sent out notices that there were going to check each apartment on such-and-such date to check out the pipes and make sure they hadn’t been damaged since we had such a crappy winter that year. One of our neighbors was growing tomato starts in his closet under a heat lamp so that the starts would be ready for planting once the frost was gone. But the landlord called the cops and said they were growing pot, so later while the guys are all studying for finals the cops kick the door in without any warning and put all the kids in handcuffs while another cop scoops up all the tomato plants and loads them off. You can sure as hell bet they were embarrassed when they found out their pot raid was all for a bunch of tomato starts.

  34. weakdome says:

    @dogmaratt: Or the sign of just being an inept greenskeeper :)

  35. highmodulus says:

    Bet that’s going to be an awkward conversation between CenterPoint Energy and their soon to be terminated for cause sub-contractor.

    And the newbie judge who gave out the search warrant will sure be looking harder at subsequent requests. . .

  36. snazz says:

    @Dobernala: i disagree about bringing the subcontractor up on charges, or even firing him. its his right to express concern to the police, no matter how stupid or uninformed he might be. its the police’s job to filter the tips, concerns and complaints to figure out what is valid and what is not. the police and the judge should be held accountable. they have the experience, skills and know-how to make an informed decision. a regular citizen doesnt always know, but shouldnt be held responsible for his suspicions when properly conveyed to the authorities.

    plus, if people are punished for expressing concerns that turn out to be false, then people will all together stop expressing concerns. that poses a bigger problems than what happened here….

    the professionals who reacted to the tip are the ones to blame, not the man who gave the tip.

  37. Anyone who is thinking “lawsuit”, you are what is wrong with this country. The contracter(as a person, not the company he works for), the police and the judge all messed up. They deserve a verbal lashing from the accused, but they don’t deserve a lawsuit for “embarassment”, or to be fired.

  38. RookOmega says:

    “CenterPoint energy maintains the home was “unsafe” and it would have been “irresponsible” for the subcontractor not to report it.”

    I like how they are keeping with the “we thought it was bad, so you can’t harm us” party line…

    This is scary – you would think the police would do some more investigating before kicking down doors.

    I would be on the phone with a lawyer ASAP.

  39. azntg says:

    @Manok:
    Policeman: “I… uh… fixed your door. It was sticking.”

  40. johnva says:

    @PrestonBerryworth: Really? I think the people who want to search private homes on flimsy evidence are what is wrong with this country.

  41. bravo369 says:

    Sad part is there will be no punishment for this because police will claim everything was done ‘by the book’. Also, as someone else mentioned, aren’t police supposed to identify themselves and give an opportunity to let them open the door before knocking down the door? Also you would think/hope that cops would have done at least some sort of investigation before asking for a warrant and knocking a door down.

  42. Loki_Monster says:

    It’s all well and good that the gov’t is asking our plumbers and cable installers to spy on us (not really, but that’s another fight).

    However, when a tip comes in from someone who is completely and utterly untrained, it should not be taken as probable freaking cause unless or until there’s an investigation.

    This is the police state the American people have asked for (as other commenters have pointed out). Hope those of you who voted for it (maybe the couple in the article) are happy with it.

  43. johnva says:

    @snazz: I think it would be better for people to not “express concerns” they are not sure of, yes. There is no pressing need here for the cops to search a home over a vinegar-type smell. I would rather people keep their mouths shut and mind their own business unless they are absolutely positive they see drugs or whatever. It’s okay with me if a few more drug-producers slip through the cracks, if it prevents more innocent people from having no-knock warrants served on them.

  44. snazz says:

    @RookOmega: CenterPoint is correct. if one of their employees had concerns about the safety of somewhere he had been, it would be irresponsible to ignore it.

  45. Ex_EA_Slave says:

    Let this be a lesson to you aspiring meth lab constructors. Keep a fish tank near the hidden entrance to the lab and blame the smell on the fish.

  46. csdiego says:

    That’s pretty bad.

    A friend of mine had her kids taken away by CPS because a service technician reported her for keeping her autistic son behind a baby gate. Apparently nobody in the BF rural area where she was living knew much of anything about autism, not even the judges or the child-protection workers, so they took the kids away because she was keeping the one kid “locked up”.

  47. Saboth says:

    @PrestonBerryworth:

    I believe I have a right against unreasonable search and seizure in this country, and I believe instances like this fall into this category. So no, I don’t think I am what is wrong with this country. What is a “verbal warning” going to do for any of the parties at fault? Nothing. You have to hit someone in the pocketbook to make a difference. Now, if this were a frivolous lawsuit, I’d agree with you.

  48. johnva says:

    @snazz: I suspect that “safety” thing is just a lying excuse they are using to try to avoid legal liability.

  49. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @csdiego: Did she get the kid back?

  50. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Dobernala:You’re absolutely right, and I’m sure these people feel lucky to have not had their house completely destroyed or been shot or killed themselves. It has definitely happened here (I’m in Hennepin County, the site of the story) before.

    Several years ago, Minneapolis police killed an elderly couple in a botched drug raid. The police executed a no-knock search warrant on the wrong address. They announced their entry with a stun grenade, which set the house on fire, and the couple died as a result.

    In another slightly more recent case, the Minneapolis police accidentally shot an 11-year-old boy and killed the family dog while executing a search warrant that turned up precisely nothing illegal. Of course, in an effort to mitigate their colossal f%^k-up, the police like to tell the media that they found “guns and cash” in the house. Sounds bad until you realize that if you live in a bad neighborhood and don’t have a bank account, having guns and cash is fairly typical.

  51. johnva says:

    @JiminyChristmas: Frankly no-knock warrants should not be legal, period. Or at least only allowed under very narrow circumstances that require a much higher degree of probably cause.

  52. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @JiminyChristmas: The dog issue scares me. In *any* case of somebody entering my house without permission, my dog will go nuts barking. He won’t actually attack but he’ll make himself heard. If some cops pulled a no-knock I can guarantee I’ll be the owner of a dead dog.

  53. HalOfBorg says:

    Cops who ‘knock nicely and ask to come in’ to a REAL meth lab get all DEAD real fast. And cuffing them during a search is SOP as well – meth lab people are NOT NICE!

    The warrant should NEVER have been issued based on ONE report of a strong odor. Ridiculous.

  54. Empire says:

    @PrestonBerryworth: Oh yes they do. Suppose the people in that house had been armed, and had understandably assumed that there was an intruder coming into their home? Someone would be dead right now. People who recklessly endanger the lives of others deserve real consequences, not a stern talking-to.

  55. dirk1965 says:

    Hmmm… now how does the CenterPoint subcontractor know what meth lab chemicals smell like huh?!? I think teh police needs to go visit his lab!

  56. cbartlett says:

    Shouldn’t the judge who gave them the warrant on zero evidence be the one who’s hung up to dry for this?

  57. Oface says:

    @Corydon: Yeah…Sometimes I stay at home for extended periods cause I get into antisocial moods. I smoke outside. And I have paranoid behavior. But its only because the door to door jesus people won’t leave me alone.

  58. johnva says:

    @HalOfBorg: The danger to the cops of doing this seems like a good argument for only doing no-knock warrants when you’re really, really sure it’s a meth lab you’re raiding, and you have actual genuine reasons to be afraid of the people you’re executing it on. Otherwise people may end up dead (and yes, I think an innocent homeowner who shoots at masked intruders breaking into his home with no warning is in the right, even if it is the cops).

  59. ArgusRun says:

    @Gokuhouse:

    I gotta disagree here. As long as the call was not deliberately misleading, he is not at fault. If he called in a false tip because they didn’t tip him, then yes, he should be held liable.

    But letting police know about a possible crime is not illegal or immmoral. Imagine how he would have felt if he had not said something and it did turn out to be a meth lab which then exploded and killed people. Far fetched example, but suggesting that he ignore his suspicions is dangerously close to “no snitching.”

    The burden of proof is on the police to verify his observations with hard evidence.

  60. ShortBus says:

    @Jaysyn: I’m not an anti-drug nazi, but your line of reasoning sucks. There are many reported deaths attributed to X. Whether they are caused by over-consumption of water, heat stoke, etc. is meaningless semantics. That’s like saying that guns don’t kill people, bullets do.

  61. csdiego says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda: No, she didn’t. The kids were adopted by the foster family with which they were temporarily placed at first, and the court ruled that it would be too disruptive to give them back. The foster parents then RENAMED THE KIDS. Sick, sick, sick.

    This friend of mine wasn’t thrilled with her method for taking care of her son and would have welcomed advice on ways to keep him from hurting the other kids and himself, but CPS skipped over the advice and went straight to punishment, and now her daughter has had her name changed to “Jezebel”. Charming, eh?

  62. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda:

    Two of my dogs bark, the 3rd, a mastiff is trained to attack quietly while the other two are distracting whatever it is they are barking at.

  63. MeOhMy says:

    Would everyone PLEASE CALM DOWN AND TAKE A STEP BACK.

    What the article didn’t tell you is that in addition the vinegar smell, the CPE guy saw SUDAFED on the premises! SUDAFED for the love of god! I bet they had bleach in the laundry room as well. Someone should throw the book at these people, they are clearly menaces to society.

    Or at least menaces to nasal congestion and household stains.

  64. @Troy F.: Did the husband have lung cancer and was he working as a chem teacher by any chance?

    If so, it’s a slam dunk!

  65. donkeyjote says:

    @Jaysyn: How completely psychotic and pleasantly genius at the same time. How did you get them trained like that?

  66. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @donkeyjote:

    They sell bark-stop collars in hunting magizines. They deliver a very mild shock when the dog barks. And it is very mild, a little worse than touching your tongue to a 9-volt battery; I know this because I tried it on myself before I put it on my big lug. Once you get the barking to cease, the rest is pretty natural to the dog. Of course, to a PETA moron, that’s still animal abuse so I should proably just shut-up now before the flaming of the double-digit IQ’d ensues.

  67. camille_javal says:

    @BStu: Think of it this way – if these cops had no reason to know that it was an idiotic tip (e.g., all they got was a warrant for suspicion of a meth lab, no indication that the installer was a moron, or the judge over-zealous), they had no reason to know that this wasn’t a situation where these people might not go for a gun.

    I’m not going to criticize the cops in this scenario. I will criticize the source – completely hysterical drug laws. How many officer deaths occur because our legislation has *created* a war on drugs? It’s no wonder I’ve heard so many retired cops say that the drug laws need to be scaled back significantly.

  68. metaled says:

    @snazz: CenterPoint is correct. if one of their employees had concerns about the safety of somewhere he had been, it would be irresponsible to ignore it.

    IT wasn’t an employee. It was a sub-contractor working for CenterPoint. Probably a local plumber with his own business (guessing.) Having worked for a plumber, it is a very dangerous job, crwling into crawl spaces under houses to fix broken pipes. I can tell you that you get all types of smells from broken pipes. And Everyone of them is worse than any meth lab and probably just as explosive! . If this guy gets dizzy around Vinegar then he shouldn’t be working on Gas Water Heaters and Plumbing where you would be trapped in cramped spaces with all types of “GASES” (if you know what I mean). This guy has to be new or else he reported it out of malice! Especially when you read that she explained what the smell was and showed him what the chemicals were. It’s either his first day or he should be fired (minimum penalty!)
    The cops know they made a mistake by listening to this guy, but don’t want to make other “concerned citizens” have second thoughts about coming forward. The city will settle, the sub-contractor is the guy to go after!

  69. Dakine says:

    Police are inept idiots given far too much power. My very own home was kicked in by police 2 years ago. 17 of them. Guns drawn, threats issued. I was speechless because one minute I was working, the next I was in cuffs screaming “Don’t shoot my dog!”
    Apparently they got an anonymous tip from a neighbor claiming I was drinking and suicidal. And apparently that’s enough to kick in your door and haul you off. No questions asked.

    Fuck the police. All of them.

  70. subterrene says:

    @Johnva: Right ON! I agree with everything you’ve said man.

  71. CaptZ says:

    What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    They can handcuff innocent people based on a tip from a uninformed source with no investigation?

    I would sue the cops for not doing their job and investigating further, CPE for being uninformed, nosy assclowns and the judge for….well, bad judgement and issuing the warrant based on an uninformed source tip.

  72. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @ShortBus:

    Please refrain from the insults.

  73. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @ShortBus:

    I hit enter too soon. That’s a truly ineffective analogy you’ve made, but judging from the symbolism you picked I can see that you are probably against the 2nd Amendment & any information you have recieved has probably been skewed by big media & the government. Feel free to cite a single overdose that was caused directly by MDMA. You can’t, it’s like trying to find a marijuana overdose. Anyone can dance themselves exhausted on alcohol or ritalin or get behind the wheel of a car on oxycontin. The real solution to those problems would be knowledge & personal responsability, something that this country is sorely lacking.

  74. Not Alvis says:

    Might they have thought it was a HEROIN lab? You need acetic anhydride for heroin synthesis, and it smells strongly of vinegar.

  75. MadameX says:

    @Juggernaut: That just made me snarf Diet Coke all over my keyboard. Thanks for that.

    Oh, and I use straight up CO2 in my fish tank. I’m sure the authorities are drawing up a search warrant as we speak.

  76. @Eyebrows McGee:

    This sort of logic, or lack of, makes you an enabler. You’re the reason the government (local, state, federal) get away with what they get away with.

    Excusing everyone and everything because “maybe” something was happening is bordering on anarchy.

  77. weedpindle says:

    Least we forget, the Dept of Homeland Security has asked all of us to report anything suspicious. There is the excuse to report to the police anything you believe to be illegal, wrong, bad, or evil. To get a search warrant, all the police have to do is convince a judge to issue one. LEO’s sometimes embellish the facts, not a lie mind you, but a stretch of the truth.

  78. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @kbarrett:
    @Eyebrows McGee:
    I too would like an explanation of the black tack on the door frame, which supposedly means a psycho lives there to door-to-door missionaries.

    If I saw a black tack on my door frame, I would remove it immediately, not because of what you claim it means, since I’ve never heard of that before, but because it’s vandalism.
    And if I saw someone stick a black tack in my door frame, I would call the cops & have that psycho arrested for vandalism!

  79. rhombopteryx says:

    @Diet-Orange-Soda:
    Let’s see: Accuse someone of committing a crime? Check. Announce as much publicly? Check. Being accused of a crime tends to harm your reputation? Check. Over the course of the investigation have it effectively proven to a legal certainty that you weren’t a drug maker? Check.

    Yeah, I’d say that’s enough to amount to slander.
    I’d say slander

  80. thearchduke says:

    That judge is a moron. Really, probable cause because a contractor smelled vinegar? Bullshit. Reasonable suspicion, maybe because he felt light headed. The judge probably saw “drugs!” on the warrant request and signed it without looking.

  81. SkokieGuy says:

    BTW – comments on war on drugs. It’s been about 50 years since the war on drugs started. The rate of illegal drug use has not declined, the majority of people in jail are in on drug charges, and we have spents billions of dollars.

    Who works for a company that will continue spending money on a policy that has no proven benefit after half a century?

    Our economy is collapsing, our infrastucture is collapsing (Katrina, bridges, etc.), perhaps relaxing drug law insanity should be pursued not as a moral issue, but as an economic one.

    We cannot AFFORD to continue to enforce drug laws. The fact that they are ineffective becomes irrelevant.

    Let’s see, save billions in the costs of police, courts, prisons, loss of income to families of the incarcerated AND we have whole new stream of commerce to tax!!!!!!

    Eliminate spending and increase tax revenue – what a concept. Could we get a math wiz to tell us, could this help the economy?

    I’d rather have the goverment devote resources to, maybe inspecting more than 1% of our imported food, protecting nuclear plants, water supplies, etc. than worrying about who’s smoking or snorting what.

    This concludes today’s sermon. Please give generously.

  82. JiminyChristmas says:

    @Troy F.:

    Just so you know, Minnesota is bonkers about any cold/allergy medicine that contains pseudoephidrene, because it’s one of the key meth ingredients.

    A couple of years ago the MN legislature passed a law that required anything with pseudoephidrene to be sold from behind the pharmacist’s counter. It also limited purchases to three packages at a time. Also, the purchaser has to show ID.

    I didn’t experience this myself until a few months ago. The pharmacists swipes your ID (MN licenses have magnetic strips), and you have to sign for the cold medicine. So, if you want the good stuff your name and address are going into a database somewhere.

  83. donkeyjote says:

    @Jaysyn: I’m not one of hypocritical peta halfwits, but still, the whole idea of punishment based training for something so natural as barking is a bit twisted. Granted, house-breaking a pet is the same thing (yelling when they piss on the couch for example) but… It’s the electricity part.

    That being said, I quite enjoy the 9volt to the tongue every once in a while. /Srsly

  84. MeOhMy says:

    @JiminyChristmas:
    Whoa there, buddy. You didn’t come right out and say that you willingly purchased meth-making supplies, but you came DAMN close. Be careful out there. You never know who is going to rat you out. Especially during spring allergy season.

  85. I had a landlord ask me once whether I was cooking meth. He saw my wort chillerand carboys, and thought it was part of some drug making operation.

    Still, he didn’t call the cops. He just asked what it was. Central energy is caught up in a post-9/11 mindset!

  86. darundal says:

    @kbarrett: Where did you find this out, and more importantly, any other useful codes or tidbits?

  87. BStu says:

    @camille_javal: First off, while the cops had no reason to suspect the tipster was an idiot, they also had no reason to suspect that he knew what he was talking about. Ultimately, that’s the problem here. As the article notes, simple follow-up might have led the police to conclude that a Vinegar smell was not likely to be associated with Meth. It certainly wasn’t suspicious of Meth, and that’s all they were going on.

    But still, my concern is allowing police officers to cuff and detain people while serving a search warrant. I don’t suggest that people being served a warrant be allowed to chase ahead of the cops and destroy evidence or endanger anyone. But the problem is that a search warrant is JUST a search warrant. Its not an arrest warrant, the standard of proof for which is higher. Treating them like they are under arrest first strikes me as overstepping what would be reasonable. You can have an arrest warrant and search warrant at the same time. It happens. Didn’t here, so I’m disturbed at them handcuffing people they still had no probable cause to detain. Our laws protect people like these, who are innocent. This is a perfect example of why those protections are in place, so I’m disturbed that they can still be treated so harshly before there is any proof. That is a traumatic experience and it doesn’t get washed away by not hauling them off in handcuffs.

  88. donkeyjote says:

    The handcuff thing is reasonable, considering the cops on the scene thought it was a Meth Bust. If it was a search warrent for an accountants records, there would not be handcuffing, until after evidence is found.

  89. bohemian says:

    Great so now every home brewer and fish tank owners is going to have law enforcement busting in their door.

    I hope these people sue the pants off of someone.

  90. Uriel says:

    Sue for defamation of character, and public humiliation(as they kicked in the door). They had nothing real to go on, other than the subcontractor’s statements, and lets face it, he didn’t hold the ability to identify the smell, and in the end, the police found nothing. Do you think if that subcontractor was put on the stand, he could give his qualifications to be able to identify the smell of a meth lab? Nope, probably not(***SPOILER***read the article above to see why!!!***SPOILER***). Be “The Prick”. Fuck anyone who speaks ill of you for suing the police. Someone needs to put them in their place if they do something like this. Their department and the judge will throw $60k-$100k at you to get you to go away.

  91. @Voyou_Charmant: Did you READ what I said? I SAID I thought it was abusive. But I also live in meth country and I’m aware of what happens when busts go down on actual meth labs. (In fact, I’m friends with our local K9 officer, who’s involved in most of the busts, and I just feel sick when I know he’s on a bust.)

    I personally am an attorney who used to work for a First Amendment watchdog. I’m pretty sure I’m the reason the government DOESN’T get away with shit, as I have been personally involved in cases where I said, “Hey, government (local, state, and federal), you can’t get away with that shit!” What exactly do YOU do to stop the government from getting away with stuff? Attack random people on internet forums whose comments you misread? I bet they’re terrified!

  92. a_mama says:

    I clean my house almost entirely with vinegar and baking soda. Sooo…now I have a meth lab and most likely cook crack too, huh?

    /waiting for the door to bust open

  93. lockdog says:

    @donkeyjote: We’re getting way off topic here, but in a former job requiring maintaining hundreds of wireless mics that all ran on 9v batteries, I developed the ability to accurately lick test the voltage remaining in the battery. Many of my coworkers could do it too, and we were often accurate to a tenth of a volt.

  94. forgottenpassword says:

    I remember newsstories where police are actually training & using contractors, meter readers, utilities workers & all kinds of other service workers who often have access to the insides of people’s homes to basically snoop for illegal/terrorist activities.

    I find this disturbing.

    Overzealous police & judges aslo are seemingly overstepping their authority by taking “informants'” words (especially anonymous informants) too seriously. I can’t ttell you how many newsstories I have read where some innocent person’s house was raided (and even the innocent person killed during the raid in some instances) based on faulty informant info.

    The raid on the recent texas polygamous sect is a PERFECT example.

    Disturbing

  95. forgottenpassword says:

    oh & I forgot to add…. that police are rarely held accountable for their mistakes…..at most they are given a minor slap on the wrist & maybe retraining”…. but no real punishment. And when there is no real punishment…. there is no incentive to keep from being overzealous & making mistakes.

  96. scoopjones says:

    I read this great story recently about how the LAPD breaks down so many wrong doors that they have to keep a full-time carpenter on staff just to repair them.

  97. pantsonfire says:

    @donkeyjote: “That being said, I quite enjoy the 9volt to the tongue every once in a while. /Srsly”

    Could you please provide a link to your craigslist personal ad, which I am certain is incredibly interesting.

  98. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Considering the wife had explained to the subcontractor what it was before he left, will the subcontractor be charged for filing a false police report. He had no right to do what he did.

  99. forgottenpassword says:

    @Concerned_Citizen:

    It was just a tip, so i think it wouldnt be considered a false report unless he said he actually saw a meth lab in operation.

    Its the police’s fault for not gathering other evidence (like surveilling the property & people , going thru their trash for evidence…etc.etc..

    And of course its the judge’s fault as well for granting a warrant on such little evidence the police had.

  100. TechnoDestructo says:

    When this happens, who pays for the door?

  101. Dobernala says:

    @PrestonBerryworth: You’re what is wrong with this country. Eat that.

  102. Dobernala says:

    @snazz: I understand your point. However, the fact is that the contractor reported what he reported with full knowledge that the police may act on his tip. Both he and the police were reckless. Both should be made to pay. Lock ‘em up, I say. Same for the judge too.

  103. Pro-Pain says:

    This kind of stupidity can get people killed. Contractor, cops, judge, all brought up on charges. It’s a two way street. Better get it right before you strip away my rights. Oh wait, I’m in the USA…

  104. deanie12 says:

    Cops gone wild. Wasn’t there a drug raid case a while back where a SWAT cop killed a baby when he jumped on a couch that the baby was on? If I remember right, he thought there might be drugs hidden in the drop ceiling.

  105. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    @PrestonBerryworth: Idiot. A verbal lashing? That’s all? The subcontractor was just informing the cops of what he witnessed….a vinegar smell. The police and judge messed up. They should be FIRED and brought up on charges for negligence.

    Simple reprimand is NOT ENOUGH. The couple has every right to sue the city/township for being embarrased and having their rights violated (the warrant was not properly granted, hence it was illegal search and seizure)

    It could have been worse. Maybe the contractor could have smelled guns. Then SWAT would’ve busted down the door with guns blazing.

  106. Corydon says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Easy there…I’m sure we all appreciate that you did something with your LLB besides chase ambulances.

    But there’s lots of ways of standing up for civil liberties that don’t require a professional degree. Some of these include:

    - Donating money to the civil liberties organization of your choice (a.k.a. paying your salary while you were doing all that fancy first amendment lawyer stuff)
    – Getting involved in politics: local, state and federal.
    – And yes, online advocacy (among other kinds). Winning hearts and minds and helping to create a political environment where infringements aren’t possible.

    Let’s keep in mind that the police knew exactly how flimsy the evidence was in this case and decided to go all Judge Dredd anyway without doing any further investigation. Yes, the judge should have shot them down, but it speaks volumes that they expected to get get a warrant on the strength of a single witness who smelled something that doesn’t even fit the description of a meth lab.

  107. redkamel says:

    if you have a big enough lighting system you can get cops who think you are growing “marijuana” too. Coincedentally they use similiar lights also.

  108. nonzenze says:

    They’ll probably get about $10k from the city on a 1983 case. Not bad for a few hours and a door.

  109. nonzenze says:

    They’ll make $10k on a 1983 action against the city (if the settle). Not a bad haul for a broken door and a few hours . . .

  110. GrandizerGo says:

    @PrestonBerryworth:
    That is so backwards…
    So anyone who abuses their authority gets a talking to???
    What about accountability?
    The cops made an error, the judge made an error. The contractor is the closest to innocent here, minus the homeowners that is…
    Did the cops have prior information that the location was a meth lab? Was the judge given wrong information or trumped up information?
    This will continue until there is a monetary award given to these people who had their home searched under false pretenses which is what this turned out to be.
    There is such a thing as checks and balances, lots of checks here? nope, woefully imbalanced.
    I would sue everyone in this case, the people who broke down the door should be glad there wasn’t an escalation of force against them.

  111. digitalgimpus says:

    @BStu: You don’t need a warrant to cuff, or take someone in. They normally have 24hrs to place charges or release you.

    Their reason for cuffing was likely to prevent them from “running”.

    Standard practice.

  112. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @blackmage439:

    I suggest you look at the stastics on deaths from Extasy, asprin kills more people each year.

  113. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @ShortBus: Many? Links?

  114. CharlieInSeattle says:

    @redkamel:

    Ya a friend of mine had that happen to him. They were excuting a search warrant on his neighbor who was growing pot. They saw a spike in his electricity, and the DEA and County sherrif also executed on his place the same day at 5am. All they found were tomato plants.

  115. DCGaymer says:

    LAWSUIT. Centerpoint obviously doesn’t train their workers to recognize a REAL meth lab. Sue them.

  116. Megatenist says:

    True story.About 15 years ago me and my family were sitting down to a late dinner one evening,when we heard a loud pounding on our door.It was a policeman demanding that he enter the house and check for “suspicious smells”

    uhh….we were eating PIZZA!

    Turned out he drove past our house and smelled a “dead body” (his words,not mine) and stopped to investigate hehad no warrant,my mom was not about to let him in our house,He was acting rather strange and kept looking around like someone was gonna sneak up on him.He was talking about how “he was onto us” and “he caught us red-handed”

    The “smell” came from our garbage can,which we had put out earlier that day.Upon looking inside,there was a dead squirrel rotting away which must have snuck in and died.The smell was pretty bad,but when we closed the lid,you could barely smell it.The cop left without saying another word.

    My mom got his badge # and called the local PD.The police captain we talked to knew who he was and acted like it was no big deal.Said he was “protecting us from harm”…..

    Nowadays,hearing stories like these just make me shake my head.

  117. kbarrett says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik:

    Provided you noticed the tack while the J. Witness, LDS missionary, or whatever was still around … and he admitted to putting it there.

    Green tack = believer
    yellow tack = needs more convincing
    red tack = bad attitude atheist

    black tack = biker gang, or drug house, or heads in the fridge and a sink trap full of gonads

  118. e.varden says:

    @Dakine:

    (Ahem) Well at least you’re living, today, thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ and the intervention of the Police.

    - That was a close one, hey?

  119. Craysh says:

    @blackmage439
    Do people like you blame all the faults of the US on Bush?
    When something happens, do you always close your comments with “I hate this administration” ?
    In this case, it would be more appropriate to say “I hate the war on drugs,” or “I hate how easy it is to get a search warrant,” or perhaps even “I hate how a search warrant can become a certificate of invasion.”
    No, instead you take all the conspiracy theories and say that anything remotely Stalin-like is “this administrations” fault.