Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 16, 2011

Knock three times

Filed under: Alameda — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:04 am

By now, most folks will have heard about the initially botched attempt to serve a search and arrest warrant on Wednesday morning by the FBI and Martinez Police Department.   The story is everywhere. Everywhere.   What gives this story the extra bump of special goodness sauce beyond a drug bust in Alameda that bears a passing resemblance to the show Weeds (it’s on Netflix Streaming if you haven’t watched it previously) is the whole the FBI almost arrested the wrong person angle.

What put it over the edge and made the story not about pot growers in Alameda with a whole mess of guns in their house but rather the botched arrest attempt was whose house they attempted the raid on first: a well known San Francisco political consultant, a CBS News Correspondent, and their baby.   The amazing thing is that Alex Clemens, who was on early morning door duty, was able to talk himself out of getting handcuffed, that took some quick thinking given the whole guns in your face and a bunch of FBI agents screaming at you thing.

The interesting thing, a fellow Bayport neighbor tweeted earlier that same morning that there was a news truck and unmarked police vehicles on the street and wondered what it was all about.  When Peter Hergarty of the Alameda Journal tweeted this:

It was clear that was the source of the news van and unmarked police car.  Later the news reports started rolling in about the “accidental” visit to a home that had been sold months ago that could have been confirmed via, you know, assessor records or even a quickie visit to Blockshopper:

But then we wouldn’t be able to shake our heads and say “only in Alameda.”   I have to say though, one of the funniest comments I have read in connection to this event is this comment directed toward Alex Clemens:

you told the FBI they had the wrong house and they believed you?!? Wow! You really are a good lobbyist and worth every penny your clients pay you.

Honestly though, there are probably only a few people in the neighborhood that would have been able to get out of this situation without feeling the post handcuff chaffing right now.   The people it actually happened to, Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley, and those Warriors players and coaches who live in the neighborhood off and on.

In case anyone was wondering, the marijuana was not being grown in Alameda, but in Oakland.   And, no, I don’t live on that block.

But in order to add something new to this story, here is — by far — the best background arrest photo ever, complete with cute baby and dazed dad.  Before anyone asks, yes, I have permission to post the photo of the baby who was apparently nursing when the FBI came knocking.  I think the FBI and Martinez police owe the family a muffin basket, at least.  I wonder if Hallmark makes a “Hey, sorry we flashed a bunch of guns in your face by mistake” card.



  1. I’m sure families in Oakland, Richmond, and other places have had similar experiences and nobody ever thought twice about it. Of course, Bayporters aren’t just anybody. (The police should thank their lucky stars it was a just a TV correspondent and not a champion blogger!) It’s great that Mr. Clemons kept his cool but it probably helped that he isn’t Asian, as the suspect is, and it’s a new neighborhood where there has been a lot of turnover lately. The baby is neither here nor there. Drug dealers do breed on occasion. I think it’s unfair to fault the police for not checking the home sales records. Three months in the world of record keeping is not much. Nobody was arrested or handcuffed, no search was made, slashing cushions or anything. What this amounted to was a bothersome experience, nothing more. When my husband and I first bought our house, over 20 years ago, the police came looking for a guy named Kevin. I had to convince them that Kevin no longer lived here. They didn’t believe me. Finally, they realized their error. The case was different in that they just wanted to question Kevin who was apparently a nogoodnik of some kind, not arrest him, so no guns were drawn. This is a tempest in a teapot if there ever was one.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 6:36 am

  2. Denise: Getting the address right for a search warrant is sort of key to the whole search warrant thing. Beyond home sale records there are also utilities.

    Additionally, while I realize that you have also received an unexpected visit from the police when you first bought your house, I’m sure that the guns made all the difference in elevating the situation from being more than a “bothersome experience” at least for the people it happened to.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 16, 2011 @ 7:04 am

  3. They always draw their guns in situations like this. Disturbing for the occupants but the police have to be ready for anything. I’m sure the Chief will weigh in on this one. What we should take away from this is that those who live in areas like ours have the privilege of being shocked or outraged by this sort of thing, while in the upper Fruitvale, for instance, it’s no big deal. Are those families any less entitled to not having guns waved in their faces? I don’t know how it worked this time but I suspect they got the address from someone they questioned. I doubt they check to see if the house has been sold every time they issue a search warrant.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 7:21 am

  4. Typical Alameda. More fodder for the national press and the now hopeless LBNL bid.

    Comment by Bernice Wong — September 16, 2011 @ 7:27 am

  5. Denise: I would argue that it’s the responsibility of the police to ensure that they use every tool necessary to verify that the address still indeed belongs to the person that they are looking for. Property records, utilities, these are not databases that are beyond the scope of the Martinez police or especially the FBI to double check before securing an arrest warrant or search warrant. No one, not families in the Fruitvale nor in Bayport or anywhere else, deserve to have guns waved in their faces because someone didn’t check a PG&E record one last time before deciding to raid a house.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 16, 2011 @ 7:33 am

  6. 4. Are you saying this would impact the LBNL decision? Not a chance. This is so not a big deal. Everybody needs to get over themselves. Let’s also be clear who was in charge here and it wasn’t APD.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 7:35 am

  7. 5. I agree but, again, perhaps the Chief could clarify about how these things work. We are just speculating here.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 7:44 am

  8. 6. It doesn’t matter if APD was involved. The implication that Alameda has drug dealers negates our claims that Richmond has more crime than Alameda.

    From the Chronicle…
    After getting a new search warrant, they walked across the street and arrested Ung and seized two handguns, a rifle and a shotgun, Martinez police Lt. Jon Sylvia said. Ung is facing potential federal charges.

    Doesn’t sound like Mayberry, now does it?

    Comment by Bernice Wong — September 16, 2011 @ 8:10 am

  9. And on another note, I’d love that type of enforcement in my neighborhood. When I report a crime, I get a snarky operator and a slow drive by. If I could just move my house to the east side, I am sure I’d enjoy much better police services.

    Comment by Bernice Wong — September 16, 2011 @ 8:12 am

  10. 8. 75,000 people and how many arrests like this in the past year? We have a long way to go before we begin to look like Richmond.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 8:25 am

  11. Bernice, if you think there are no drug dealers or growers in Alameda, you are living on another planet. In the 80’s when there was a big discussion over drug awareness programs in the high schools, a parent came to the school board and said “Well, maybe at Encinal, but not at Alameda High.” My daughter just laughed and said “Mom, the kids at Encinal just smoke weed and take the cheap pills; the kids at Alameda High School have more money and can afford cocaine and the higher end of the trade.” It is there; it has to be dealt with. It is not a new problem. Oh, and the police know who is in the business and who to keep an eye on and do. We are a long long way from Richmond, but we have drugs in Alameda. I think one of the big differences is that we are more on top of things from the law enforcement standpoint.

    And for all the “unfit Alameda” folks would like to trash the idea of the lab coming here for some reasons that elude me (seems like a good fit and something most of us support, so why the effort to be negative and drive it away – just the politics of the “no to everything” crowd who have no plan, no positive vision to take the community forward.) the lab people know that every community has its “issues”.

    Comment by Kate Quick. — September 16, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  12. If all it takes is a drug bust in Alameda to scare away LBL then Richmond and Oakland would have been out of the running ages ago. I imagine Berkeley and Emeryville have much higher violent crime and property crime rates (per residents) than Alameda. The only city that would have similarly low crime rates to Alameda would be Albany.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 16, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  13. 6 “…impact the LBNL decision? Not a chance.”

    Right on! Solyndra just robbed LBL’s boss of half a billion dollars and now their looking for another pigeon to dump their petty cash on…

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 16, 2011 @ 8:57 am

  14. 12: LDo, U really are naive! Albany has the Hotsy-Totsy, primo destination for trippers since the 1970’s. Altho drugs don’t necessarily equal crime. Depends on who is doing the drugs. Berkeley has always had more better drugs than Alameda, especially the roof hothouses of the Chemistry buildings.

    Comment by vigi — September 16, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  15. In the weed-tolerant Bay Area, w/all the med-marijuana dispensaries in Oaksterdam needing supplies, I’m surprised this guy was busted simply for MJ. Sure he wasn’t running a meth lab, too?

    Comment by vigi — September 16, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  16. The guns kick it up a notch. Another good reason to repeal prohibition is to keep the thugs out of the equation.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — September 16, 2011 @ 11:03 am

  17. Actually the most shocking thing is that this house sold for $1,093,000 five years ago. There must be a ton of underwater properties in Bayport now if that was the going price for a 4-bedroom then. Sheesh!

    Does anyone else find it curious that the alleged drug dealers bought the house across the street? If they sensed the “heat” was closing in on them, you’d think they’d move further away…

    Comment by Kristen — September 16, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

  18. None of the LBNL sites is anywhere close to ideal, especially given the laundry list of requirements that LBNL has. I don’t know if it reflects on the lack of appropriate sites in such a built up area or if it’s limited by the property owners who were willing to apply. Anyway, Alameda wins on the crime and congestion front and loses on access. In terms of competent governance it comes out ahead of Oakland, Richmond and Berkeley, so the whole “unfit” thing is a crock.

    Albany may have a competent government as well, but it’s a got a population that really doesn’t want the tax exempt lab. The locals in Berkeley don’t want the lab either, and the Oakland site pretty much stinks, so it’s Richmond vs. here.

    Comment by dlm — September 16, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  19. How does Alameda win on the congestion front yet lose on access?

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 16, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

  20. Congestion on the island itself (within the general vicinity of the lab site) compared to Berkeley or Oakland.

    Comment by dlm — September 16, 2011 @ 6:32 pm

  21. I get it, even with a car plugged tube it’s easy to get on the base.

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 16, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

  22. Perhaps as a matter of blog policy it’s best not to ID neighborhoods of specific people in very key positions way above local electeds’ pay-grade — I believe there is one other high, high official there, not named here fortunately.

    Comment by John — September 16, 2011 @ 9:00 pm

  23. #21: I get it — you’re not just an asshole, you’re a repetitive asshole. Getting off on being a jerk is just ignorant.

    Comment by dlm — September 16, 2011 @ 10:08 pm

  24. #11 Kate, are you saying that Alameda PD knows who the dealers are in Alameda and are simply observing them? Do you have some inside intelligence? Please do share.

    Comment by Bernice Wong — September 18, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  25. Yes, I do think that they know who most of the dealers are. I think they bust them whenever they can, and as most good police work goes, try to trace their sources back to the bigger “fish”, which means that sometimes an immediate bust is not the best thing on “small fry” when they are waiting for an opportunity for the larger and more meaningful arrest. I know, for example, that they routinely pull over nighttime bike riders for things like lack of proper lights in hopes of getting a search and arrest for ilicit materials. I see a lot of action in the newspaper police blotter; arrests for possession of drugs and paraphenelia. No, I do not have any “inside intelligence.” I am stating my belief, garnered from observation, and reading.

    Some years ago, when I served on the Mayor’s commission to investigate the racial incidents I was required to do many hours of ridealongs and observation as part of that task, as we all were. It really opened my eyes as to what our police force does. Chatting with patrol officers about the work they do and their approach to law enforcement is revelatory. I think we are well policed in our town, and that is one of the reasons that our crime rate is low compared with other nearby areas. The police have a ridealong program (or did) and a citizen’s auxillary group which several of my friends participate in. Get engaged in one of these programs and you may get your own perspective on the job they do.

    So sorry to disappoint you, Bernice, nothing nefarious here to get your shorts in a twist about.

    Comment by Kate Quick. — September 19, 2011 @ 7:46 am

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