Friday, May 23, 2008

Horner's Last Botched Drug Bust

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The bizarre events on the corner of 4th and Market Street on Wednesday May 14 and Chief Charles Horner’s equally bizarre account of those events in the Portsmouth Daily Times on May 22 tend to confirm the suspicion that we have as chief law enforcement officer in Portsmouth a man who appears to be not only incompetent, but to be psychologically as well as morally unfit for the important position he occupies. I was a witness to the events of May 14 and I spoke at that time to Lee Scott, who did not appear to me to be under the influence of anything but his own ebullient personality. I wonder what anybody who was not a witness to those events would think of Horner’s newspaper account, an account which, I believe, offers ample evidence that we have as chief of police an unstable individual who not only literally has his finger on the trigger but in addition wields broad powers, mainly the powers of search and seizure, and the powers of surveillance and arrest, which he abuses with alarming regularity.

J. Edgar Horner

The events of May 14 might serve as a reminder to us, and a warning, that Horner is a small-time, small-town J. Edgar Hoover (shown here), who for 45 years used his power as Director of the FBI to intimidate individuals whose “anti-government” politics and whose “anti-religion” beliefs and "anti-American" sentiments he did not approve of. But small-time or not, Horner is no less a threat to the constitutional rights of the citizens of Portsmouth than Hoover was a threat to the rights of Americans generally. Let us hope that Horner’s Botched Drug Bust of May 14, will be his last. I have previously posted an essay, “A Comedy of Terrors,” about what may have been Horner’s first botched drug bust, back in 1992, when members of the Portsmouth Police Department’s Emergency Response Team, under the command of then Sergeant Horner, broke into the wrong house and traumatized an elderly couple who had just returned home from an evening church service.

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Scene of Horner's First Botched Drug Bust

Domestic Terrorists!

I am presumably one of the elderly gents Horner accused in his statement in the May 22 Portsmouth Times of trying to intimidate him and his armed men by filming them with a video camera. I had a digital, not a video camera. I’ll admit I tried to include Horner in the few photos I took, but I failed. He was always behind a car (as he is in the photo below) or behind one of the team he had on hand to facilitate his 4th Street Fiasco. Someone else who had tried to include him in a photo told me he had beenavoiding being photographed all afternoon. It may be that Horner sincerely does think I and Austin Leedom (a former deputy sheriff in Chillicothe) whose ages combined add up to about 150, are “domestic terrorists” who are trying to intimidate armed police with our cameras. But the rest of the crew around Horner, in the photo below, don’t look intimidated. They look bored, having stood around for hours waiting for a search warrant, and they look embarrassed to be part of such a stupid fiasco.

Ho-hum. How long has this drug bust been going on?

"Mutated Forms"

Over the course of the six hours or so that Horner's botched protracted drug bust was taking place, spectators gathered across the street to see what was going on. People came and went, and there were probably no more than a dozen at any given time. It was like the circus had come to town and Horner was the chief clown. In his Captain Queeg-like May 22 statement to the PDT, Horner referred to the spectators variously as the “small group of individuals,” “the group,” “associated individuals,” “associates of Scott’s,” all of which descriptions he tried to sum up in the paranoid phrase “this association of individuals, in a variety of mutated forms . . .” Horner in his statement went on to warn, “Of special concern is the known association, either directly or indirectly, of several individuals with known convicted felons and potentially those with anti-religion, anti-government, anti-American, and/or anti-nuclear interests, which may be affiliated with the uranium enrichment plant.”

Horner is obsessed with the internet and local bloggers, and what may be written about him. His case could serve as a warning of how psychologically unhealthy it is to spend too much time on the internet and in chatrooms. People who spend too much time in cyberspace start seeing not spots but “mutated forms.” If Horner had spent less time surfing the internet and checking out chatrooms, if he had spent more time fighting crime and less fighting farting, he and the city would be better off.