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Jay Dortzbach

'Miscommunication' causes panic, confusion between WVC Police, DEA

By McKenzie Romero | Posted - Oct 2nd, 2013 @ 10:25pm

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WEST VALLEY CITY — A few minutes of confusion surrounding a drug search had one law enforcement agency responding against another Wednesday.

Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency and a SWAT team from the West Jordan Police Department deployed to serve a search warrant on a business at 2420 S. 2100 West around 2 p.m. Wednesday, drawing a response from West Valley City police officers who were unaware it was a police operation.

The mechanic shop where the warrant was served abuts the back fence of the UPS Customer Center, 2040 Parkway Blvd., and when someone nearby saw the armed officers pouring out of SUVs and crashing through the door, the individual became alarmed and called 911.

That's when the confusion started.

Dispatchers were told armed men, who the caller didn't recognize as officers, might be breaking in to the neighboring UPS center.

"The reports I’m getting is they are wearing digital camouflage, black army helmets, and they were last spotted on the north end of the complex," one dispatcher reported.

Not realizing it was a search warrant being executed by another agency, West Valley City police responded, the recipe for a potential "blue on blue" incident between agencies.

West Jordan Police Lt. Bob Shober helped execute the search warrant Wednesday, making sure to call West Valley City dispatch and the police department's field commander to advise them, he said. A dispatcher for West Jordan was also notified.

The officers executing the warrant were wearing camouflage tactical gear, as well as vests identifying themselves as police, Shober said.

"It went smooth for us. We turned it over to DEA, and they searched the place and arrested the people inside," Shober said. "As far as it goes for us, we did everything we were supposed to do. I contacted two dispatchers and a field commander. … If they had confusion, then they need to fix their end."

The search was tied to one of two warrants served simultaneously Wednesday, which are part of an ongoing DEA investigation.

After the operation was over, Shober said he met with leadership from West Valley City police, who explained that as their officers were responding, a field commander came over the radio and clarified that the incident they were looking for was actually the warrant execution he had been advised about.

West Valley Police Chief Lee Russo said the confusion was resolved quickly once officers realized the address from the 911 call and the address for the search warrant were actually in the same general area. No one was put in danger, and the situation was sorted out in a matter of minutes, Russo said.

Contributing: Andrew Wittenberg and Debbie Dujanovic


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