Investigation into marshal’s conduct during raid completed

No misconduct found but some improvements possible

[ by Mark Reaman ]

An investigation conducted by Crested Butte town attorney John Sullivan into the Crested Butte marshal’s behavior during a drug arrest and subsequent search warrant has concluded. In a memo to the town council, Sullivan stated that it was determined that proper procedures were followed “and there was no misconduct on the part of the CBMO (Crested Butte Marshal’s Office) or other law enforcement officers who served this search warrant.”

The complaint was filed by neighbors located near the property where the warrant was served on June 9. The neighbors made clear they felt in danger by the raid and were not adequately informed about what was going on while they were outside in the vicinity of the raid.

Sullivan said the marshal’s office reviewed hours of body-worn camera video as a result of the complaint. Chief marshal Mike Reily responded to specifics of the complaint in a lengthy memo of his own that was also shared with the town council. Sullivan said he has communicated with district attorney Jessica Waggoner about the raid and a request from neighbor Carolyn Blanchard for copies of the marshal video. He said once the video is “blurred/redacted as required by law to protect the rights of the defendant, victims and witnesses, it will be released to the public…”

Reily’s memo goes into detail of how the raid was coordinated and executed. He repeatedly noted that some of the danger alleged by the neighbors did not take into consideration training by the officers in such situations. He said based on previous incidents, “we brought enough personnel to not be surprised or caught unprepared should a threat appear and to control the perimeter of the operation.”

Reily’s memo points out that Crested Butte is not simply a small town without some major issues.

“Our neighbors may be the nicest people but when they are involved in dealing drugs the associated connections can bring a host of unintended consequences such as nefarious characters, violence, revenge and intimidation,” he wrote. “This information may burst the false narrative of safety we believe exists in Crested Butte but, we have had home invasions, kidnappings, attempted murders, rapes and assaults over drugs and drug dealing. We recognize that no quantity of recovered drugs is worth the lives of citizens or officers so, when we serve a warrant, we always come hopeful for the best while being prepared for the worst. This means bringing sufficient personnel with the proper planning and training, the right equipment and protection to overcome any reasonable threat.”

Reily’s memo does include some areas of possible improvement in future scenarios. He said more officers might be needed in the future “to direct additional attention to the perimeter to address concerned citizens.” He said it could also be helpful in the future to have “a neighborhood public information liaison.” He also said it would be a point of emphasis to ensure that police commands are loud, clear and provide identification that the officers are police conducting a specific purpose.

The raids that took place that day in the county resulted in three arrests, the seizure of two handguns, $4,000 in cash and items associated with drug distribution.

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