Emma Roberts was babysitting one of her granddaughters when she got a call saying her daughter’s house was being raided by the police.
During an interview more than two weeks after the June 5 raid, Roberts is still upset and cries as she talks about the night, pausing a couple times to apologize for her tears.
She drove to her daughter’s house on Healy Boulevard in Greenport to see her family members handcuffed outside the home, including her 15-year-old grandson and her 10-year-old granddaughter, Roberts said.
They remained outside for more than an hour, but Roberts said she talked to her daughter afterward.
“They handcuffed my 15-year-old, they came in and threw him on the floor and handcuffed him and put a gun…to my grandson’s back — I get so upset when I talk about it — and the ten-year old granddaughter, his sister, [she] was on the couch, and [she] had her hands up in the air with guns drawn on her — 10 years old,” Roberts said.
“They called him an M-F in front of his sister,” she adds, using an acronym, as she does not like to curse. “’Lay down, M-F.’”
Robert’s daughter, Lola Roberts, was asleep in her bedroom, she said, wearing a t-shirt and underwear, and the police did not allow her to put on pants before taking her outside, she said.
“She still cries when she talks about that, because she never in her life been through something like this,” Roberts said. “It scared her so bad — you sound asleep, tired from working, got to go to work the next morning, and they burst in her house like that.”
Police detained Lola’s boyfriend, Jarrell Young, but released him a few hours later, Roberts said.
Both of her grandchildren are “traumatized,” and the 15-year-old now often sleeps at her house, she added.
The raid was coordinated with three others in the adjacent City of Hudson — one on the 500 block of State Street, two others on the 200 block of State Street. The four addresses were raided by police wearing camouflage and carrying assault weapons, according to video shot by Lance Wheeler.
Sheriff David Bartlett said his department, the Hudson Police, the Greenport Police, state police, the DEA and other police agencies were involved in the raids.
“We’re just basically sending a message to these drug dealers: Don’t do it here,” Bartlett said on Wheeler’s video. “If you’re going to continue to deal drugs, we will come here, in force, and take you into custody.”
Hudson Police Chief Edward Moore said the three raids on State Street produced one arrest — Anthony Price-Baynes, who was found at the residence on the 500 block. Moore did not know the exact charges leveled at Price-Baynes, because the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office had authority over that particular raid, as well as the one on Healy Boulevard in Greenport.
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Wayne Lopez, the department’s public information officer, said he would not be able to discuss the raid “because it is still an ongoing case.”
Price-Baynes was found with “a substantial amount of heroin,” according to Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, who was quoted in the Register-Star.
There were no arrests at the two other State Street locations, but police were looking for someone the raid had targeted, and a warrant had been issued, Moore said.
Pistol ammunition, “a small quantity of cocaine” and a large amount of marijuana was seized from one of the 200-block locations, Moore said, adding code enforcement condemned one of the 200-block locations after the raid due to numerous code violations.
Though many other police agencies were involved in the raids, they were spearheaded by the Shared Services Team, a tactical police force comprised of members of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, and Hudson police. The Shared Service Team can be deployed anywhere in Columbia and Greene counties, but their efforts since their founding in 2015 have focused on Hudson and Greenport.
The raids were brought up at the June 11 Hudson Common Council meeting, with First Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson, Fourth Ward Supervisor Linda Mussmann and former Second Ward Supervisor Rev. Ed Cross expressing concern at what they categorized as a military-like approach of the police in the raid, according to the Register-Star.
Mussmann and others continued to express their dismay at the monthly Columbia County Board of Supervisors meeting, though many in attendance also spoke positively about the Shared Services Team, according to the Register-Star.
In an interview Friday, Mussmann said she had been against the creation of the Shared Services Team in 2015, and said, for the amount of “terror” visited upon the community, the raids produced “very few results.”
“Once you apply these SWAT teams, you really have lost any hope that you’re going to have a relationship with the community,” she said. “It is a signal that it is a kind of war…when they come in with huge vehicles, tactical forces, they are clearly saying, ‘we’re here to do what we are compelled to do as warriors, not as policemen,’” she said.
These raids limit the police’s ability to collect information about crimes from the community, she added.
“I think that you really close the door to any conversation with anyone…[police are] never going to be confided in in the neighborhoods that they feel are most at risk,” Mussmann said.
Joan Hunt, the project director of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood, a youth-oriented community organization, said it was traumatic for children to experience police raids.
However, the organization was looking at programs with local police agencies that could help children in these situations, Hunt said.
The two programs, “Handle with Care,” and “Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents,” have been adopted by the Albany Police Department, and the department’s chief, Robert Sears, made a presentation about the first program at last month’s Hudson Common Council Police Committee meeting, Hunt said.
“Handle with Care” tasks police officers with contacting the school of a child who had been involved in a traumatic experience, such as their parent being arrested, so the child can be provided counseling and given space in the days after the event, Hunt said.
The police would not be allowed to share what the child had experienced with the school, she added.
“Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents” tasks police agencies with making every possible effort to arrest parents without their children present, including conducting raids when children are not home, Hunt said.
Both Moore and Bartlett were interested in “Handle with Care,” and a meeting was set for July 9 to discuss it further, Hunt said, who was also enthusiastic about “Safeguarding Children of Arrested Parents” being adopted.
The Shared Services Team will be discussed at the next Hudson Common Council Police Committee meeting on June 25 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.