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.
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.
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.