Longmont police say 'misinformation' from housing authority led to apartment search presence

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-07 18:59:15-04

LONGMONT, Colo. – The Longmont Police Department on Wednesday laid the blame for its officers and K-9 units being involved in apartment inspections on a letter the Longmont Housing Authority sent to residents, and said officers were only present at the housing authority’s request.

“It was incorrectly reported that the police were conducting illegal searches,” a statement from the police department Wednesday said. “The source of this misinformation can be traced back to a letter that the Longmont Housing Authority sent to residents stating, ‘Please note that we will occasionally have K-9 units with LPD accompany us for purposes of training and compliance.’”

The police department also said in the statement that the city’s public safety department, which oversees the police department, told the city’s housing authority that officers “would only assist them with this process with assurances that individual constitutional rights would be honored, with the purpose of making the residents of the facility feel safe.”

Denver7 first reported the questionable police presence Monday night, after a resident of the Suites Supportive Housing Community raised the issue to Denver7 after receiving the letter from the housing authority (seen below), wondering if her rights were being violated.

Other news outlets followed suit with reports Tuesday and Wednesday.

Longmont Police Department Commander Joel Post told Denver7 that night: “If consent is granted, the officer and the dog would go in and do a search. If consent was not given, the officer and the dog would not enter the apartment.”

He added that the police involvement would be “totally voluntary” for residents to participate in and that the police department was “absolutely not trying to skirt the law.”

But the police department said Wednesday that “Public Safety Leadership was made aware of the letter from the Longmont Housing Authority to the tenants of the Suites Tuesday afternoon.”

The department says that is when it then decided it would discontinue the program.

“There was never any intent or violation of constitutional rights. The police department has not arrested anyone or confiscated anyone’s property and has not conducted any searches without the consent of the individual, as related to this issue,” the department said Wednesday.

It said it had been discussing the request for partnership from the housing authority because of a recent rise in illegal drug activity and an overdose death.

“Like many police agencies across the country, Longmont Public Safety receives calls about possible illegal drug use almost daily,” the department said Wednesday. “Each case is unique but the one constant is the understanding of constitutional rights. Longmont Police Officers are highly trained and understand case law as it relates to 4th Amendment Search and Seizure.”