Late night harassment courtesy of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

I was sound asleep last night until exactly 11:32 p.m., when someone started pounding on our front door.

I grabbed a weapon before leaving the bedroom.

“It’s a cop,” my wife said. She had beat me to the front door.

“Sheriff’s Office,” I heard him yell through our front door.

Since we’re a law abiding family, all kinds of badness went through my mind.

Was I being SWATted by antis or — and this is the worst case scenario — was it a fake cop?

I saw lights popping on in two of my neighbors’ houses.

Swell.

Just what I needed.

As I got to the front door I saw a Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputy standing outside. It was hard to make out his features as he was shining his flashlight at us through the door.

“I’m looking for a Grant or a James,” he said. “Do they live here?”

I assured them there was no one here by that name.

He asked again. I told him, again. No one lived here by that name.

He acted like he didn’t believe me. Quite frankly, he was a bit rude.

The deputy started to walk away, but I wasn’t done. I asked him for a business card.

He refused to provide one.

Instead, he said he was “Deputy Keith, badge number 3129,”

I asked again for a business card. Again he refused.

I asked him to write his name and badge number on a piece of notebook paper, assuming cops still carried notebooks. He refused a third time.

“It’s Deputy Keith, badge number 3129,” he said over his shoulder as he was walking away.

After he left, I called the Sheriff’s Office’s dispatch and asked to speak to the watch commander. The dispatcher acted like she had never heard the term watch commander before.

I told her what had transpired, and that I wanted answers, from the watch commander.

“I’ll get a message to them as soon as I figure out who it is I get the message to,” she said.

Genius, that.

At around midnight, I called Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, Kaitlyn Perez. She is the agency’s point of contact for the media. I left a message for her asking why my family was being harassed.

“I can only assume it is because I have written negative stories about your agency in the newspaper,” I said. A bit of a stretch that, but I was pissed.

A few minutes later I called Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Col. Kurt Hoffman. I left him a detailed message as well.

As 12:19, I got a call from Sgt. James Darby. I told him what happened.

“He’s new,” he said of Deputy Keith.

Darby offered no answers, but said he would check into the matter.

As I was talking to Sgt. Darby, I got a call from the watch commander — evidently the Sheriff’s Office has watch commanders — Lt. Hayes. Kaitlyn had told him to call.

Lt. Hayes checked the computer dispatch file and told me Deputy Keats, not Keith, badge number 3129, had “checked out” on several addresses on our street, looking for someone who had an active warrant.

I was more concerned by the fact that one of his deputies pounded on my door in the middle of the night and then walked away without identifying himself. That should never happen.

The lieutenant had no answer for why the deputy refused to provide a business card. All Sheriff’s Office personnel, he said, are issued business cards with their name and badge number.

“He’s new,” the lieutenant said.

Neither could he explain why the deputy had such a “case of the ass” — my words, not his.

I told Lt. Hayes the precarious nature of someone pounding on my door in the middle of the night, because “I take my personal security extremely seriously.”

Lt. Hayes said he’d check into it too.

He called back a half-hour later.

One bad guy, he said, had given my address when he was arrested last month. The other guy was his associate. They were looking for both men.

As to his deputy’s rudeness, he said some of the rookies “watch too much TV.”

Hayes apologized — I wasn’t looking for an apology. I just wanted to make sure that my address was flagged in his dispatch software, so that there wouldn’t be any more midnight visits.

While the lieutenant was polite, I wondered what kind of response someone would receive if they didn’t have my contacts.

I’m guessing they’d just be shit-outta-luck.

When an LEO pounds on your door in the middle of the night and wakes up your family, at the very least they should be polite. There’s never an excuse for rudeness by a public servant, ever, especially when they initiate the contact. We certainly didn’t call them.

A good way to judge the professionalism of a law enforcement agency and the efficacy of their training and discipline is by how they treat members of the public when no cameras or supervisors are around — especially in the middle of the night — and this kid was a righteous prick. He failed the test.

The difference between officers at a large metro agency and those at a small agency like Sarasota County is in how they interact with the public. Guys at a smaller agency think acting rude and hostile is “big city.”

Guys at the big city are always polite, until it’s time not to be.

That’s the difference.

In my humble opinion, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office needs to rein in its youngsters — perhaps some retraining is in order — or, at the very least, they should send them to bed early and stop them from watching too much TV.

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

8 Comments

  1. “Guys at a smaller agency think acting rude and hostile is ‘big city.’
    Guys at the big city are always polite, until it’s time not to be.”

    Having lived half my life in cities (NYC, Atl) and the other half in suburbs and rural areas, I’d that that mirrors my experiences with law enforcement to a T.

  2. Cognitive dissonance: “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Back The Blue” stickers on the same vehicle or home window. Who do you think are going to do the treading? The Blue, that’s who.

  3. I worked for local government for over 25 years, and saw a lot of the small-town/county-with-big-attitude problem. Too many have a chip on their shoulder.

  4. Stephen J. Compton on

    You are lucky that the officer in question didn’t bust your door in, handcuff you behind your back, and then shot you multiple times in your back while you were face down in your own living room with your hands still handcuffed behind your back – it has already happened to someone else and the cops who did it got off. Look it up man.

    Also, the guy did verbally identify himself and gave his number. Again a lot more then you can reasonably expect. Especially since the name given was very close phonetically to the real thing and the number actually matched. Again you are very lucky, count your blessings man, count your blessings.

    Not saying you are wrong to push for better. But over all you got off really well compared to what others have suffered.

    I use to trust cops when I was young and naive and brain washed by my parents. Then I learned the hard way. Not saying cops are bad, I’m saying they are just people like everyone else – you trust them blindly it’s no different then trusting any random other stranger. Yah they try to do better – recruitment standards and training and all that jazz – but power attracts the corrupt and has a corrupting influence. So it just barely works out even.

    Trust is earned on an individual person by person basis, uniforms don’t change that. No trust earned means you start out dead zero neutral, you either work your way up or down from there. At least that is how I roll now. The cops should just be glad they start out even zero rather then in the hole with what they have put me through.

  5. To a cop everyone is a suspect. From US Atty General to the cop on the beat citizens are suspects. Never trust a cop. Never. They are not your friend. They are not looking out for you. Never invite them into your home or garage. Never. Even if you reported a crime. Especially if you reported a crime.

    I did all of the above. And before it was over the FBI, county Sheriff, city police, and ATF were swarming in my home. There were too many to keep an eye on when I invited them into my home. They took inventory. Being an advanced hobbiest with an extensive workshop of machinery and electronics equipment and having a bookshelf with A-Z subjects included guns and arms I went from a guy reporting a crime to a suspected bomb maker.
    The only thing that saved me from making the six pm news was that my daughter was engaged to a Sheriffs deputy who stood up for me.

    But my neighbors were all interviewed by the BATF and they kept harassing me to submit to take a polygraph. They can ruin your day. What was the crime I reported. Someone blew up my mailbox.

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