A crime sweep that results in massive arrests in one fell swoop tend to walk a fine line between admirable police-work and denial of individual liberties. When the police make 120 arrests in one investigation dealing with crimes involving violence and firearms, it is likely that some of those charges will be found to be invalid. About 150 law enforcement officers from a number of agencies recently swooped down on a North Carolina county armed with over 160 arrest warrants designed to stem the tide of violent crime in the area.
The raid in Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County was reportedly a response by police to two homicides in Elizabeth City on New Year’s Day and to 10 shootings since then. One man was charged with murder in one of the killings. In this crime sweep, one man was charged with discharging a firearm into an occupied dwelling and assault with intent to kill. However, little or no other information was immediately available regarding those arrested and the crimes charged. Police did report that drugs, paraphernalia and guns were seized.
Surprisingly, the police did not connect the arrests to the murder charge and killings on the first of the year. Both state and federal agencies participated. The county sheriff stated that it was an attempt to stop those who would ‘shoot up our streets.” The police chief indicated that the effort was intended to reduce the fear of violent crime in the community.
One problem with a widespread dragnet having a general goal of stopping violent crime is that mistakes are likely to be made. The large number of suspects, the voluminous paper work, and human error can combine to cause the arrest of innocent persons. There is a potential for the police to mistakenly arrest bystanders, friends or family members at locations listed on their warrants. If an individual in North Carolina is singled out by the police during a large crime sweep it would be prudent for him or her to seek legal counsel quickly and to begin to assert any appropriate defense that may exist.
Source: HamptonRoads.com, “Shootings lead to raid; 120 arrested in N.C.,” Jeff Hampton, March 8, 2013