Walter and Rose Martin, an elderly, law-abiding couple living in Brooklyn, were visited by the New York City Police Department at least 50 times over the course of 8 years. Their story shows how much effort police put into ensuring the integrity of their search warrants.
Apparently, the address of Walter and Rose Martin’s Brooklyn home was used to test a department-wide computer system in 2002.
What followed was years of cops appearing at the Martins’ door looking for murderers, robbers and rapists – as often as three times a week.
After the Daily News exclusively reported on the couple’s plague of police raids [on March 18th, 2010], apologetic detectives from the NYPD’s Identity Theft Squad showed up at their home.
Rose Martin, 82, said they told her Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered them to solve the puzzle – stat.
By the end of the day, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the snafu was traced to a 2002 computer test, though he couldn’t explain why the couple’s address was used as a test case in the first place.
He said that when the Martins complained to cops in 2007 about their scary series of official doorknocks, police tried to wipe their address from the system.
But the raids continued. The most recent, on Tuesday, left 83-year-old World War II vet Walter Martin woozy from soaring blood pressure.
Investigators found [on March 18th, 2010] that not every computer file bearing the Martin’s address was deleted.
“It wasn’t supposed to stay in [the system],” Browne said. “It’s been removed.”
In order to be “doubly cautious” in the future, Browne said cops have flagged the Martin’s address so no officer will be dispatched to the home without double-checking the address.
A skeptical Rose Martin asked the department to write her an official letter, dubious that such a long-standing problem could be fixed in a day.
“It seems like too simple a correction for something that has been going on for eight years,” she said.
— Kate Nocera and John Lauinger, “Computer snafu is behind at least 50 ‘raids’ on Brooklyn couple’s home” (March 19th, 2010), Daily News
The story gets weirder. Apparently the police visits to the Martins’ residence started before the Martins even moved into the house. In fact, the reason the previous owner sold the house to the Martins in 1997 is that he was wrongly visited about 30 times between 1994 and 1997 despite filing numerous complaints and was so freaked out that he decided to leave town.
Of course, none of the police who participated in this lengthy campaign of harassment will ever spend a second behind bars or have to pay even a cent of damages to the people they terrorized. Perhaps that’s why they felt comfortable ignoring all the complaints filed against them and using their lame “computer glitch” excuse — which doesn’t even begin to make sense — to explain away their own thuggishness and incompetence.