Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fifteen Minutes of SWAT

On June 5, the Shared Services Response Team conducted a raid at three locations on State Street. A week later, at a Common Council meeting, Fourth Ward supervisor Linda Mussmann spoke out against what she called "a militarized raid on Hudson," saying "it doesn't belong in our community." Mussmann, who lives about half a block from two of the houses that were raided, told the Council, "I stepped out the door and thought I was in Iraq." The Register-Star, in an editorial on June 15, took Mussmann to task for her hyperbole: "Her comment about Iraq was exhibited poor judgment. We don't know for sure, but it might be safe to say Mussmann has never been there. If that is correct, she can ask any Middle East veteran who will tell her that one night in Iraq was 1,000 times worse than any 15-minute police action on a city street."

At the Common Council Police Committee meeting on June 25, Mussmann herself did not speak. Instead Claudia Bruce, Mussmann's wife and partner in TSL, did. She expressed her concern that the trust between the community and the police is harmed by the SWAT raids "because they are overwhelming in a neighborhood." Bruce asked about the role of the mayor in planning such action and wanted to know if the mayor gave his "say-so" to the raids. Responding to Bruce's suggestion that the mayor should be the one to decide if the deployment of the shared services team was warranted or not, Mayor Rick Rector said that Chief Ed Moore advised him before the raid took place but he was not involved in deciding when a situation called for such action. "He's the expert," Rector said of Moore, "I'm not the expert, and I have complete faith in him and his department." In his comments, Rector also mentioned that a new police commissioner had not been appointed since Martha Harvey, appointed by Mayor Tiffany Martin Hamilton in September 2016, resigned in August 2017.

Photo: Linda Mussmann|Facebook
The issue of the police commissioner--or the lack of one--was taken up at Monday's informal Common Council meeting by Maija Reed. Reed called on the mayor to appoint a police commissioner, reading extensive passages from the city charter as evidence that the mayor was obligated by the charter to make such an appointment. One of the passages was Chapter 4-4B, which states: "The Mayor shall appoint the following officers to serve at his pleasure: (1) Commissioner of Public Works; (2) Commissioner of Police; (3) Commissioner of Fire; (4) Commissioner of Youth; (5) Commissioner of Purchases; (6) Commissioner of Grants; (7) Harbor Master." For decades, there had never been a commissioner of public works in Hudson until Mayor Dick Tracy appointed Michael O'Hara to that position in 2006. There has never, to my knowledge, been a commissioner of purchases. There has been a commissioner of grants during only two administrations in the past quarter century: Sam Pratt had the position when Ken Cranna was mayor (2000-2001), and Daniel Karpowitz during the Tracy administration (2006-2007).

The connecting thread in all of this can be found on Linda Mussmann's Facebook page.  There she expresses her opinion that the Common Council should pass a resolution requiring the Hudson Police Department to opt out of the Shared Services Response Team (the team is made up of officers from the sheriff's departments of Columbia and Greene counties and the HPD) and also reveals her preference for police commissioner: Peter Volkmann, the police chief for the Village of Chatham who was the Democratic candidate for Columbia County sheriff last November. Volkmann is known for a program he launched in Chatham to address opioid addiction called Chatham Cares 4 U (CC4U). In a video accompanying an article about Volkmann that appeared in April in the web magazine CityLab, Volkmann says he trains his officers to be "guardians of our community; they are not warriors." Those terms were also used by Bruce at the Police Committee meeting when she told Moore, "SWAT training makes warriors; police officers are guardians."


  1. If your tool box only has a hammer ...that's what you'll use. Hudson needs an assortment of tools to deal with policing problems.

  2. What's "overwhelming in a neighborhood" is an unregistered handgun wielded by a teenage thug.

  3. Can anyone tell me what this overwhelming response accomplished. Was anyone charged or convicted of anything?

    1. Linda Mussman was charged with being soft on gun crime. The silent majority has judged her guilty.

      But sometimes I wonder if she just has something against camouflage. Would this discussion even be happening if the response team preferred solid-colored apparel instead?

    2. Tim ... your deriding attempt at humor adds little to the conversation nor answers my question.

    3. Oops, I didn't know I was here to answer your questions. I'll really try to shape up.

      But first, why do you assume that the response was "overwhelming" when you don't know 1) the circumstances that inspired it, and 2) what the results were? Perhaps it was underwhelming when you consider everything, which you haven't done because you can't.

      That's why it's hard for me to take your questions seriously, but I will try for now on.

  4. Everyone will have an opinion when the SWAT Team comes knocking at your door.