WestNet's Drug Cops Exposed as Ineffective Cowboys

roy alloway2.jpg
Maybe all drug cops are not cowboys prone to trashing supsects' houses and intimidating children. But, among defense attorneys, such cops certainly have that reputation. Exhibit A: the task force known as WestNet.

The News Tribune nails the federally-funded task force, which operates out of Kitsap County and uses officers from various departments, with an in-depth story exposing its hyper-aggressive tactics and exaggerated claims of effectiveness.

Readers of DW will remember that WestNet is the same task force that last year charged into the house of a medical marijuana dispensary operative, pulled a gun on her 15-year-old son and raided her 9-year-old daughter's Mickey Mouse wallet.

Some eerily similar events show up in The News Tribune's report. In 2002, WestNet raided the house of Douglas Wood, a 50-year-old medical marijuana patient with a painful nerve condition. Task force officers showed up in paramilitary gear and then shot a pepper ball at Wood's 11-year-old dog, blowing out her eye, according to court records cited.

In another case, WestNet officers broke through a Belfair suspect's front door, storming in with guns drawn on the suspect, her 6 six-year-old daughter and 13-month old grandson, according to a court declaration cited in the story. The officers proceeded to break an Etch-a-Sketch toy to see if it had drugs.

The irony is that the task force used such Rambo-like tactics on penny ante cases. Prosecutors often declined to take the cases to court and when they did, judges regularly sentenced defendants to zero days in jail. Yet WestNet claimed a near perfect success record to state regulators.

Perhaps no surprise, then, that one of WestNet's top officers, now retired Bremerton cop Roy Alloway (pictured above), wasn't scrupulous about other forms of paperwork. In October, Alloway pleaded guilty in federal court to tax fraud and gun dealing without a license. He is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

WestNet is one of many similar task forces across the state and the country. The question that arises is now this: Is WestNet the exception, or the rule?

 
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