On the EDge: Shurtleff finds the shoe on the other foot

OPINION – When the shoe is on the other foot, it hurts. A lot.

Just ask former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff who is crying the blues these days because the cops raided his house and scared the heck out of his kids.

This is the same Mark Shurtleff who, through gritted teeth, espoused his “tough on crime” philosophy, showing no mercy, no compassion, no sense of a capacity for human frailty.

This is the same Mark Shurtleff who unleashed SWAT teams to bash down doors to the homes of undocumented residents who were suspected of the “violent” crimes of bootlegging CDs and DVDs, so much so that the Recording Industry Association of America presented him with a gold record award for his efforts as a warrior in the War on Music Piracy, which certainly requires SWAT teams to enforce. Those SWAT teams, however, were nowhere to be found whenever incidents of corruption and sexual or domestic abuse were alleged in the polygamous communities that dot the state. Instead, Shurtleff vowed publicly not to prosecute polygamy offenses despite laws that outlawed the practice.

This is the same Mark Shurteff who positioned himself as a warrior in the War on Drugs until he was diagnosed with cancer, underwent debilitating treatments and hinted that he was “tempted” to partake of marijuana for medicinal purposes to ease his suffering, despite the fact that he offered no compassion for others suffering a similar circumstance.

Where I come from, we call this hypocrisy.

However, when you are part of the powers that be here, you can pretty well do what you wish, as long as you hold the trump card of power, which Shurtleff clutched with a death grip for far too long.

But, his power has run out and he is now being investigated for allegations that he was not so forthright during his term as the state’s top cop. Going down in the same blaze of infamy is his successor John Swallow, who is also suffering the slings of alleged criminality that he so gladly imposed on others during his short term as Utah Attorney General.

I would like to express sorrow for these two guys, except that it would be hypocritical in my behalf. Instead, all I can say is “Welcome to the world, guys; a world you helped shape. How does it feel to be on the other side of a search warrant?”

Shurtleff was Utah Attorney General for a dozen years. Under his aegis, there were enough commando, door-busting raids on such “violent” criminals as purveyors of pirated CDs and DVDs and kids gathered on a private ranch for a rave concert that was manned by private security, EMTs, and the requisite of others needed to comply with state law.

He was a “law-and-order” type who saw nothing wrong with heavy-handed action against those suspected of breaking the law.

But, times have changed and the cops raided his house recently, looking for information regarding allegations that he and his successor Swallow, had broken campaign finance laws.

Now, instead of being good cops, the raiders were described by Shurtleff as using Dirty Harry tactics when they burst into his house, which was occupied by his son and daughter at the time.

“It was way overboard, a horrific abuse, an extremely improper abuse of force, given the nature of the alleged charge, the fact there were minors in the home — there was no reason for it,” Shurtleff later told The Salt Lake Tribune …

The former Attorney General said his teenage daughter, who was in the bathroom when officers in body armor pounded on the door and ordered her out, a laser sight pointed at her chest, was “traumatized” by the raid.

“To go in and point a gun at 5-foot-3, 117-pound minor who was coming out of the bathroom, for crying out loud, is absolutely wrong,” Shurtleff said. “How do you get that out of the mind of a 17-year-old who is innocent of everything? I don’t care what you think of me or what you’re looking at me about.”

Perhaps it was an excessive use of force, but not one that was unprecedented.

Perhaps it was Karma, turning around to bite the hand that fed it.

But, for Shurtleff to cry the blues after cops used tactics he endorsed, embraced, and empowered law enforcement to use is hypocritical.

Shurtleff and Swallow, to be sure, are not the only hypocrites to hold public position and, certainly, not the last.

But, it is pathetic to hear them squeal like caged pigs when they are snared in a trap of their own making, to cry foul when somebody does unto them what they have done unto others with total lack of compassion or humanity, and his statements since the raid have done nothing to support the notion that he was truly enlightened, only that he believed he, because of his station in life, was above such rough tactics.

Look, I can certainly understand the argument that will be put forward that law enforcement is entitled to participate in armed break-ins in certain circumstances. Was this one of those instances? I don’t know. I’m not sure what or who the cops expected to encounter on the other side of the door; how many weapons might have been in the house that could have possibly returned fire; what evidence may or may not have been destroyed had they knocked politely before executing the warrant.

I also can understand the argument that there are many instances when cops cross the line from enforcement within the dictates of law to brutality. I’ve seen enough criminal cases thrown out in Southern Utah because of this and other Fourth Amendment violations by over-eager cops. Was this one of those instances? I don’t know.

I do know, however, that there is some sort of justice at play when the tables turn and the man who set up such rigid, unforgiving procedures and tactics is suddenly on the other side of a search warrant.

Welcome to the real world, citizen Shurtleff.

And, by the way, what is it they say about paybacks?

No bad days!

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

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Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • Mary June 17, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Amen to that Ed!

  • Mark June 17, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Ed plagiarized Washington Post journalist Radley Balko for this ridiculous “column.” See: http://m.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/06/10/aggressive-police-raids-for-thee-but-not-for-me/

    • Joyce Kuzmanic June 18, 2014 at 5:29 am

      Similar viewpoint, message, it appears so, Mark. Plagiarism, no. Thank you for the link and participating in the forum, though.
      ST. GEORGE NEWS | STGnews.com
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

    • Craig June 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Ed’s last name i spelled K-O-C-I-E-L-A…NOT B-I-D-E-N.
      So therefore, it is clearly not plagiarism.

  • bw June 17, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    i like Shurtlleff he seems like he;s pretty honest Swallow i wouldn’t trust him as far as i could throw him

  • TARRELL June 17, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    If I were karma I would say he still has a lot more coming.
    He still needs to go through the court system.
    Loose every thing he owns.
    Oh and do it with a public defender.

    • cindy July 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      I think he should go get a loan at check city…. lol

  • Me June 17, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Mostly this sheds light that law enforcement is growing too strong-armed. Regardless of Mr. Shurtleff’s eventually criminal status, I am sorry his innocent children faced jack-booted police.

  • TooToo June 17, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Mark gave good lip service to the press about protecting victims of polygamy, but in the end all he did was protect the perpetrators. Mark’s chickens are finally coming home to roost!

  • JAR June 17, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Good, straight to the point article Ed.
    You watch, if and when there is a court appearance, both of those lawyers will point the finger at Jeremy Johnson and say ,Johnson is the rat, He Made Us Do It-honest!

  • Craig June 17, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Great article, Ed. Shurtleff must know by now that karma is a beotch,

  • THAT GUY June 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    A wise man once said ” You reap what you sow ”
    So now you know how an everyday citizen feels.
    Suck it up buttercup, your life is about to be turned upside down and shaken up. Until all your dirty lil secrets and skeletons come tumbling out of you closet and hit the floor. For all the world to see. You were a a big player when you ran the show applauding the cops and their heavy handed high profile raids. Now your crying like a baby. Because you get a taste of your own medicine. Oh such a bitter lil pill to Swallow !

  • THAT GUY June 17, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    A wise man once said ” You reap what you sow ”
    So now you know how an everyday citizen feels.
    Suck it up buttercup.
    Your life is about to be turned upside down and shaken up.
    Until all your dirty lil secrets and skeletons come tumbling out of you closet and hit the floor.
    For all the world to see.
    You were a a big player when you ran the show applauding the cops and their heavy handed high profile raids.
    Now your crying like a baby.
    Because you get a taste of your own medicine.
    Oh such a bitter lil pill to Swallow !

  • Chuck Brown June 17, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Kudos to the times when they knocked in the doors of ILLEGAL immigrants selling bootlegged merch. .

  • Cameron June 17, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    The liberal dufus writer is back at it with his poison pen. I think your article sucks Ed. Two wrongs don’t make it right and for your information Mr. Shurtleff was not Utahs Top Cop. He was lawyer who was elected by the citizens of Utah. If he did something wrong he will be criminally charged and a jury or judge will decide his fate… Not you Eddy boy. I’m sure you already have him convicted and want any type of punishment and abuses placed on him, his family and friend or anyone who may have voted for him. Ed do us all a favor and stay down in Mexico and keep your opinions to you and the bar tender.

  • Elliemae100 June 17, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Shurtleff was honest… he honestly loved the attention, prestige and money he received from local scammer Jeremy Johnson. He honestly made it easy for MLM companies to dupe people into investing. With Swallow, it was more of the same – nothing new. They both belong in prison.

  • JOSH DALTON June 18, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Just ran into Jeremy Johnson yesterday.

  • EL JEFE June 18, 2014 at 8:58 am

    For a second time since he became a STGNews columnist…..I agree with Ed on this one. Agreements with Ed’s views are few and far away with me. But, yes, I find it equally “delightful” that Shurtleff has come to experience what he once encouraged and perpetrated on the citizens of Utah himself. Karma has a funny way of “just popping” up when you least expect it…..huh citizen Shurtleff?

  • sagemoon June 18, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Great opinion article, Ed.

  • My Evil Twin June 18, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Excellent article here, Ed!

  • BSMETER June 18, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    People are crazy! Revenge is never the answer. A crime is a crime regardless of who commits it. Police strong arm tactics should never be allowed!

  • Jensen July 15, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Not beating the drum so loudly about heavy handed cops pointing guns at innocent people who have nothing to do with the crime now are you Hypocrite Citizen Ed? Seems like whenever it’s convienient, you change your stripes every chance you get. You’re my favorite ‘yellow journalist,’ and you are still as disgusting as ever.

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