Are search warrants a big, big bust in BV?
Earlier this year, Buena Vista Police obtained a search warrant for a house on Sycamore Avenue. The warrant was based on information from a “Reliable Confidential Informant” who told the copes there was methamphetamine in the house.
Armed with the warrant, the police searched the place. They said they found three metal pipes, two burnt spoons, a pack of rolling papers, a roach clip with a roach and a make-up mirror with a straw, razor blade and white powder residue. But they didn’t find the drugs that formed the basis of the search warrant.
Court records show that the Buena Vista Police Department’s drug-related search warrants turned up the drugs they were looking for only 33 percent of the time. Meanwhile, 89 percent of the warrants executed by Lexington Police and Rockbridge County Sheriff’s deputies turned up actual drugs.
Criminal defense lawyers who practice in the area are outraged, but not surprised by the apparent lack of success in Buena Vista police searches.
“This is shockingly low,” says Jonathan Rogers, a lawyer in Floyd County who has represented clients in Rockbridge County. “The case I had [a few years ago] involved Buena Vista and Lexington, and they were using a very bad snitch and they were coming up with fake drugs. The guy was putting sugar in bags and saying it was cocaine. I think there’s something rotten in Denmark.”
“I think the commonwealth’s attorney is doing his job to protect his police department but I think it’s a weak response. It doesn’t answer the question. If they say they have probable cause to believe something is in some place and it’s not, that’s a big problem.”
“When you do a search warrant and in an affidavit say you’re looking for a certain thing, it turns out not to be there, even if it’s not there and something else is, you need to reevaluate the whole process.”
“This is serious business. You’re invading people homes, not handing out candy. You have to address the problem. You can’t just obfuscate and avoid it.”