Submitted by: Debby Moore, Founder Kansas Environmentalists for Commerce in Hemp dba Hemp Industries of Kansas Kansas State Lobbyists for Cannabis Law Reform High times Freedom Fighter August 1994 National Registry of Who’s Who of America 2742 E. 2nd Wichita, KS, 67214 (316) 681-1743 firstname.lastname@example.org Research Data Base on Industrial & Medical Cannabis at: http://www.feist.com/~hemplady
This is the story of an on going case that is of special interest to me because I am one of the five cases mentioned in the article. My attorney is Charles O’Hara. If I lose this case, I ultimately could be sentenced to 40 years in prison through Kansas Hard Forty Mandatory Sentencing Laws. My case began on March 20, 1996 when law enforcement raided the educational and political action headquarters office of Kansas Environmentalists for Commerce in Hemp and confiscated my computer and files. See notes from police reports regarding wearing hoods and masks on the raids of March 20, 1996 and April 2, 1996, shown at the end of the following news paper article.
I apologize that it has taken me so long to submit this article, but I have been lobbying at our state capital, and I am employed at a full time job.
The Wichita Eagle
February 23, 1997
By Lori Lessner
(Article is captioned by the picture of man in mask with this statement underneath. Note that anyone can purchase goods, including masks at Baysinger.) An employee at Baysinger Police Supplies models a hood that the store sells to some law enforcement officers for protection.
Title: Police hoods violate court order, judges say
Officers’ practice protecting themselves by wearing hoods over their faces is seen by some as intimidation.
The woman, pregnant with twins, was resting in bed when she heard the pounding on the front door. A moment later, a group of men wearing black hoods burst into the living room. “I thought, ‘What is this? A new way to rob houses?’ the woman said. That fear was not dispelled even after the men identified themselves as officers of the Wichita Police Department, there to serve a drug-search warrant on her husband. “I didn’t know what to think,” said the woman, who is not identified here because she has not be accused of a crime. “The first guy was in jeans and a button-up shirt and looked like a random guy off the street - not a cop. And even though they said they were the police, they had ski masks on.” The masks, know as balaclavas, are sometimes worn by undercover officers who enter homes with search warrants. Police said the hoods, which cover the face and head except for the area around the eyes, protect officers from being identified and possibly targeted by criminals for revenge. But some judges and defense lawyers said the way police are using the hoods is in open defiance of a court order that was designed to protect people’s right to reasonable searches and to know who their accusers are. Wearing hoods as a routine matter “is constitutionally and legally wrong,” Keith Sanborn said when issuing the court order six years ago. He is now retired and said in a recent telephone interview that he stands by his order. The order is still in effect because it has never been appealed,” he said. The order, with only limited exceptions, requires all law enforcement agencies in Sedgwick County to notify the judge issuing a search warrant that they are planning to use hoods. The agencies also are supposed to say how the hoods would protect them, other than to hide their identity. In recent cases, two sitting judges have found that the Wichita police violated the court order on three separate occasions. However, each time, the judges opted not to hand down any sanctions and ruled that the violation did not justify throwing out the evidence that was gathered by the hooded officers. The district judges, Joseph Bribiesca and James Fleetwood, declined to comment because the cases may be appealed. Police Chief Mike Watson also declined to comment on the cases, but vehemently defended the use of the hoods as a way to protect his officers. Across the nation, law enforcement agencies are split on the practice of wearing hoods. Police departments in Oklahoma City and Omaha use them, as does a task force made up of officers from three Florida agencies - the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department and the Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach police departments. But in Kansas, Wichita police are somewhat alone in wearing hoods. Agencies that don’t do it include the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department and the Kansas City Police Department. To protect the identity of their undercover investigators, those departments have other officers serve the warrants. Some of those agencies only allow facial coverings when there is a physical threat to the officers - allowing them, for example, to wear flame-retardant hoods when searching drug labs containing flammable chemicals. In Wichita, the harshest critics of hoods are defense attorneys who said they are being used not as a legitimate tool to protect officers, but as a way to harass and intimidate suspects and their families. “Invading people’s homes wearing hoods in the middle of the night can be very scary,” said attorney Charles O’Hara. “What is the purpose, other than intimidation?” O’Hara is representing five defendants in drug cases involving hooded searches, and another lawyer, Jay Greeno, is representing one. Both have filed motions accusing the Police Department of violating the court order. “I’d be disbarred if I didn’t follow a judge’s rules,” O’Hara said. “But the police have gotten around the rules with little things like sending the first person into a home without a hood, and then having everyone else wear them.” Greeno scoffs at the Police Department’s justification that using hoods is necessary to protect the officers. “It’s hogwash that with 780 officers, they can’t find officers to do the raids besides those who do undercover work,” he said. “Why don’t you just send regular patrol officers in? No one would care about their identity.” But Doug Roth, Sedgwick County deputy district attorney, said using the same officers help prosecutors when the case ends up in court. “It can make things simpler for juries because we don’t have to call as many witnesses,” he said. O’Hara and Greeno say they have few remaining options for pushing the issue. Legal scholars agree. Had the police broken the law by wearing the hoods, the judges would have been required to impose a punishment, say Ray Spring, a law professor at Washburn University. But because they violated only a court order, judges are not required to do anything more than make their disapproval known. The lawyers could ask that the judges find the undercover officers in contempt of court. But O’Hara said it would be unfair to punish officers for doing what supervisors told them to do. They also could sue for civil rights violations, but O’Hara said he doubts that would work because juries unusually are not sympathetic to drug users. Police said they take steps to ensure suspects’ rights are not being violated. Wichita officers always announce themselves before entering a home, as required in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. And they wear distinctive jackets or shirts that make them identifiable as police officers. The defense attorneys and Sanborn say that is not always enough. “If you’re serving a search warrant authorized by the court, people have a right to know who you are,” Sanborn said. But Roth, the deputy district attorney, contends that Sanborn’s 1992 order was too sweeping in that it prohibits all law enforcement agencies in Sedgwick County from doing something. The judge did not have the authority to do this, Roth said, because none of the agencies were parties in the case. The State of Kansas was the plaintiff, and Wichita police officers were witnesses. He said the wearing of hoods is a question of reasonableness under the law and should be addressed case by case. The technicalities of the legal arguments are little comfort to the woman who was in bed when the police came in. She said they barged through her house, overturning dresser drawers and frightening her children, ages 2 and 7. The officers did not show badges, she said, and searched the house for an hour and a half before presenting her with the search warrant. Uniformed officers arrived after that. Police left with a small amount of marijuana. The charges against her husband stem mainly from drugs discovered at another location, O’Hara said. A judge has yet to be assigned the case, but O’Hara already has filed a motion to suppress the drug evidence. If the motion is denied like the others before it, O’Hara said he won’t give up. “The judges see that the hoods are wrong, so we’ve won the battle - just not the war,” he said.
Public Opinion Letters March 2, 1998
Letter 1) Wichita police cover up their heads in hoods, kick down the doors and rush in (“Police hoods violate court order, judges say,” Feb. 23). This is not how our forefathers intended reasonable searches to be made. Let’s stop this abuse of our Fourth Amendment rights.
Letter 2) Following the logic that undercover police need to wear hoods to protect their identity and prevent acts of revenge, wouldn’t judges in court also be hooded to protect them from those they sentence? Then juries should also be hooded. Then officers in patrol cars.
Page 17 para 2) Stone I was wearing the issued raid equipment. This consisted of a black kevlar and balck goggles along with a black T-shirt with the word “police” in large white letters on both...I was equipped with a nomex hood however I was not wearing it pulled down over my face ...I had it with me so that once the entry was made and we had people restrained and/or in custody that I could put the hood down over my face in order to conceal my identity from the occupants of the residence.
Page 30 para 1 Simms I was assigned to do the knock and announce. I was dressed in raid gear which consisted of the following: A ballistic helmet, goggles, a bullet resisstant vest,...
Page 32 para 3) Mumma Det. Stone Stated that due to the previous problems that we had experienced with this residence, and the possibility that Federal charges could come out of this search warrant, we were preparing to do a 10 second count before making entrance to the house and after we had knocked and announced. ...All members of the entry team were also wearing helments and goggles.
April 2, 1996
Page 128 para 1) Stone The business area in order to assist with the initial stages of the search. Several of these detectives were wearing black hoods over their heads in order to protect their identity from Mechell Moore and Debora Moore placed on the possibility that we may have future contact with them and they wanted to remain unknown to her at this time.