Texas Town Uses SWAT Team on Behalf of Code Enforcement

Today’s tale of misuse of SWAT teams sends us down to Texas, where it looks like police claimed they suspected a farm owner had a marijuana grow operation going in order to send in a SWAT team so they could deal with the real problem – people using their properties in ways the city didn’t like. I mean, in ways other than growing marijuana.

WFAA reports on the actions in Arlington, Texas:

The gate at the Garden of Eden, an Arlington business that preaches a sustainable lifestyle, remains broken.

It is evidence left behind after a police raid.

"They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana-growing operation," said owner Shellie Smith. "They destroyed everything."

An Arlington police investigator laid out her marijuana suspicions and probable cause in a search warrant It was signed by a judge on August 1.

The SWAT Team then went to the property on Mansfield Cardinal Road one day later to execute the warrant around 7:30 a.m.

They found nothing.

You would think that would be the end of it. But no. The SWAT team was followed by a bunch of code enforcement officers who took care of the real demon weeds: sunflowers, blackberry bushes and okra. WFAA reports:

Code enforcement teams also went to the home that day with an abatement warrant. They hauled nearly 21,000 pounds of materials, including 24 tires filled with stagnant water.

According to inventory documents, some of the items seized included compost, wooden pallets, and furniture. Smith said code officials took away their food, and everything they need for a sustainable lifestyle.

"There were 15 to 20 blackberry bushes. There were sunflowers for our bees and gifting. Lots of okra, and we had a sweet potato patch that they whacked down with a Weed-Eater," Smith said. "The weeds that we used to shade our crops are also gone."

The city says the farm has code enforcement violations they refused to fix. So, SWAT team!

(Hat tip to John K. Ross)

Follow this story and more at Reason 24/7.

Spice up your blog or Website with Reason 24/7 news and Reason articles. You can get the widgets here. If you have a story that would be of interest to Reason's readers please let us know by emailing the 24/7 crew at 24_7@reason.com, or tweet us stories at @reason247.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Police state? What police state?

  • CE||

    SWAT team? Why, were there armed drug gangs holding hostages in the greenhouse? Could the sheriff have driven up by himself, or maybe with a deputy if was weak in the knees, and served the warrant?

  • Almanian!||

    Wow. Yep, crossing off Texas from my list of "states that might not be as shitty as Michigan, and which I might consider living in someday."

    You can shoot your guns - BUT GET RID OFF THOSE VEGETABLES AND OTHER DANGEROUS PLANTS!

  • A Mathematician||

    New Hampshire

  • Drake||

    A small farm in a remote area of NH is my dream these days. TX seems like a right-wing police state instead of the left-wing one I live in now.

  • fish||

    Every time I start to feel good about Texas one of these stories pops up! With increasing regularity.

    Fuck!

  • Gray Ghost||

    This. I really like Texas, but fuck: If it isn't the sex assaulting DPSers getting no-billed, it's shit like this. Doesn't Arlington have enough crime to keep its police busy with stuff other than this? It didn't seem like the garden spot of the Metroplex, the last time I drove through it.

    People do love them some law and order here though. Unfortunately, they conflate aggressive with effective.

  • Zeb||

    NH is pretty good for being left alone. Find a nice small town with no code officer and no one will bother you about that stuff.

  • radar||

    I can dream about it, but there is no goddamned way on earth I would ever be able to convince my wife to move to New Hampshire. She bitched enough about the winters in Virginia when we moved from Florida, and central Virginia is practically tropical compared to NH.

  • Drake||

    Maybe her untimely demise is part of the dream.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yep. Moved here last week.

  • Zeb||

    Where to (if you don't mind my asking)?

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    NH.

  • The DerpRider||

    Remember the woman in Oak Park with the garden on her lawn?

  • Almanian!||

    Vaguely - that was last year, right?

    Fuck Oak Park anyway - it's turning into Hipsterville...:)

  • The DerpRider||

    Yeah. I lived in Birmingham and Clawson, but I hate people and traffic so we moved up north of 69.

  • Almanian!||

    I'm out in Livingston County with all the other racist hicks - there are no streetlights where I live. Great for the starwatching! Also - bonfires.

  • Harvard||

    From Dearborn (Dearbern to you) to the Yoop and never looked back.

  • Almanian!||

    My brother went to Northern - that is fucking God's country ferreelz. Enjoy!

  • The DerpRider||

    Sorry, assumed you were from Michigan. Here is the story. City eventually dropped charges.

  • SugarFree||

    You just made the Yokeltarian shit list, Almanian. You'll be hearing from their butthurt representatives as soon as they get done with their latest rant about Jew York Shitty.

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    SugarFree pls. It's called Hymietown.

  • SugarFree||

    But what about the homos? I mean, that cover the Jewish homos, but it doesn't really cover all the non-Christkillers.

    Buttfagopolis? Cumhatten? Or does "Queens" just cover it?

  • Almanian!||

    Queens is only part of it - but it's an important park.

    Jew Buttsexville should do.

  • jesse.in.mb||

    Buttfagopolis

    Now you're confusing San Fran with NY, SF.

  • Loki||

    I thought it was Kikeville. Or Sheeny City. No?

  • Brett L||

    Sadly, you're right. Although the state troopers are pretty okay to deal with, the local law is highly variable. Same everywhre, really. I do think I might petition to add an amendment to the FL state constitution requiring video evidence documenting (a)the parties commonly present in a location and (b)the parties named in the warrant at the location videoed and named in the warrant before allowing tactical teams to serve warrants. I'd love to have a fight with the FOP.

  • Loki||

    Although the state troopers are pretty okay to deal with, the local law is highly variable.

    Here in CO it's almost the opposite. The state troopers are the assholes while the local swine are less uptight. Although that could be because the state troopers here have ticket quotas, Excuse me, "goals" to meet. Some of the local PDs do too, and those are the shitheads.

  • Drake||

    In NJ both the locals and Staties are variable. The farther from a large population area, the better. State Troopers from barracks in the rural Warren and Sussex counties are much easier to deal with than those on the Turnpike.

    To be fair, dealing with farmers and middle-class commuters is probably more pleasant than patrolling Newark or Camden.

  • Calidissident||

    In CA, I've had better experiences with and have generally heard better things about the CHP (state) than local cops

  • Rasilio||

    "Although the state troopers are pretty okay to deal with, the local law is highly variable. Same everywhre, really."

    This is so not true.

    In Massivetwoshits the Staties are the biggest bunch of power hungry pricks around (probably because their jurisdiction is fairly restricted and they are 90% just highway patrol) but outside of the bigger cities the local cops are usually pretty reasonable and easy to deal with

  • Almanian!||

    I have to say, my experiences with the State Pigs in MI = I actually respect them. Always professional, often cut me a break (the classic was on the Ninja - "OK, have a nice day - keep it under 100, OK?" - no ticket :)

    Local cops, OTOH? FUCK tha poe lease!

  • ||

    It's Arlington: Home of Jerry's World. Those motherfuckers would cite you for driving anything lower than a BMW if they could get away with it. Stay out of the inner Metroplex and you're in the clear.

  • Loki||

    Those motherfuckers would cite you for driving anything lower than a BMW if they could get away with it.

    I suspect it was some of their snottier neighbors who first brought them to the code enforcers attention. "Dirty hippies" that they are.

  • CE||

    They're growing organic okra. They must have weed.

  • Drake||

    You have to be high to eat that crap?

  • ||

    Knowing the area, more than likely. HOA's and property values are a huge fucking deal to the fifty thousand dollar millionaires out here.

  • Gray Ghost||

    I had no idea, Sy. Arlington didn't seem that well to do when I made a wrong turn off 30, but that was a few years ago. If it's now gentrified (or was always wealthy) I can see the cops being hard-asses. OTOH, the cops around Preston Hollow and Highland Park always seemed polite, especially when I set my cruise control 3-5 MPH below their speed limit.

  • Almanian!||

    Also, Scott, I bet Balko calls you, "Mini Me!" doesn't he?

    You bastard! My balls shake their tiny fists at you...

  • db||

    Your balls have hands? How do you get any work done?

  • R C Dean||

    Multi-tasking?

  • Almanian!||

    winner

  • Almanian!||

    I'm the next thing in evolution - masturbate while you work, do chores, watch TV.

    I AM THE FUTURE!

  • Ted S.||

    How about using those electric-charge abdominal muscle stimulators to stimulate some other parts of the body?

  • fish||

    What do you think the cord coming out his ass is for?

  • ||

    That's the fundamental problem with SWATs: they are almost never needed for anything. So in order for them to justify their budget the police have to send them off to bust up poker games or do shit like this.

  • Drake||

    Dressed up as storm-troopers, running down your driveway with a battering-ram and weed-wackers. Fucking surreal.

  • bmp1701||

    The Gardinia Gestapo.

  • Hugh Akston||

    You guys I'm sorry. I can't keep doing this. I can't coming up with clever things to say about these horrific abuses of government power that seem to be growing every day in both frequency and severity. I'm afraid that my powers of incisive wit have been so eroded by the constant abuse by reason.com/blog that soon I may be reduced to commenting at the level of a brain-damaged gastropod, or worse yet, Episiarch.

  • Matrix||

    you may even fall worse than Episiarch... you may become a proglodyte.

  • ||

    Gastropod?!? I'm at least a cephalopod!

  • Loki||

    Have you been run down on foot? And then welcomed to Earf?

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Be a man, Hugh. Strap on a par and soldier on. Where would we be without your wit? Witless, that's where.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Correct headline - Texas Town has SWAT team it doesn't need - yard sale this weekend.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Oh, SWAT. Is there anything you can't do?

  • UnCivilServant||

    Respect the constitutional rights of the populace, I guess.

  • db||

    Probably 75% of Austinites are thanking SWAT for helping "preserve their property values."

  • R C Dean||

    Which would be weird, since this raid took place about 3 or 4 hours away from Austin.

  • db||

    Arlington, Austin, what's the difference? Wups.

  • Ted S.||

    Only one of the two cities is open about its hosting professional football games.

  • T||

    Semi-pro, Ted S. After last year I hesitate to call my Horns pro.

  • Brett L||

    Same could be said for the Cowboys.

    They are America's team, though. Full of whiny losers since the end of the '90s.

  • Loki||

    Kind of fitting.

  • LifeStrategies||

    Outrageous! Such stories prove that government officials sometimes wantonly disregard the law. And I wonder how truthful the city officials are/were being. Their names should be listed so that if any were being untruthful, they can be named and shamed...

  • Neoliberal Kochtopus||

    Dennis Kucinich, is that you?

  • Almanian!||

    No, look down - THAT'S Dennis

  • Andrew S.||

    "When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he's getting might really be fear. So I don't carry a gun because I don't want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I'd rather they respect me." -- Sheriff Andy Taylor

    WTF has happened to us?

  • some guy||

    WTF has happened to us?

    Forthechildrenitis. Possibly terminal, but only time will tell.

  • Drake||

    We fired Andy and put Barney in charge.

  • Andrew S.||

    Barney Fife was at least semi-competent. I'm not sure he'd qualify as an officer nowadays.

  • ||

    Barney only had one bullet in his pocket.

  • Radioactive||

    and we dont even know if it fit his revolver...

  • Almanian!||

    One bullet in his pocket? I thought he was just happy to see us...

  • Drake||

    Because Andy would only let him have one.

  • Loki||

    WTF has happened to us?

    Officer safety... families to go home to... for teh chillunz... new professionalism...

  • Bernieyeball||

    "WTF has happened to us?"

    Uh...Andy Taylor was a fictional character played by an actor in a place that never exisited (Mayberry) on a sound stage in California.

  • CE||

    And just part of the CIA-media propaganda machine to make us trust law enforcement. Along with Adam-12.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Adam -12 is that like Kyle X-Y? Cause that show rocked. All about individual accomplishment.

  • Rasilio||

    Yes but he reflected the ideals and aspirations of middle america at the time, sure they often failed to live up to those ideals but at least they were held up as ideals.

    In todays world people have no such illusions.

  • Loki||

    Dirty hippies should shop at Whole Foods if they want organic crap. /sarc

  • RightNut||

    They should have knocked over the bee hives when the police got there.

  • PRX||

    Arlington, Texas has long been a police state. Got a ticket going to a Texas Rangers game where they had the left turn into the stadium blocked and the first place you could turn around had 20 pigs passing out tickets. I didn't pay and I've never been back there.

  • Almanian!||

    AND NOTHING ELSE HAPPENED

  • ||

    Love the statement by the local authorities - "the residents are concerned that the conditions interfere with the useful enjoyment of their properties and are detrimental to property values and community appearance." If google maps got me to the right place, it's a plot of land between a small airport and a couple of junkyards.

  • ||

    Keep in mind this is the same motherfucking police force who had three cops suspended for stealing computers (or something like that) and one of them killing themselves over it.

    Also, we really need more liberty minded people to move here so we can at least stem the tide of authoritarian statist swine that spill in every day. And I'm not talking about icky brown people from down south.

  • R C Dean||

    the residents are concerned that the conditions interfere with the useful enjoyment of their properties

    Potentially a nuisance, then (although, in reality, no frickin' way).

    and are detrimental to property values and community appearance

    Which is none of the government's goddam business.

  • MappRapp||

    The original cop that swore (lied) that warrant needs a very serious beat down!

    www.AnonTactics.tk

  • Paul Pot||

    Now we're really starting to get to the heart of the matter. This is what prohibition really means, it is nature that is outlawed and our connection to it. What really scares them is people living sustainably because it means living without or with less money there by reducing the tax base the government can draw from. That is why they want everyone working for a company. For maximum profit and maximum taxation to fund their war state. The war on drugs is really the war on your right to be self sustainable.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement