HUDSON — A Columbia County supervisor has called the show of police force into question a week after several people were taken into custody as part of four drug raids in the city and Greenport.
Fourth Ward Supervisor Linda Mussmann spoke out at Monday’s Common Council meeting against the deployment of the Columbia County Shared Services Team to conduct drug raids in Hudson and Greenport.
With search warrants in hand, more than 30 police officers and sheriff’s deputies raided 228, 241 and 508 State St. in Hudson and 21 Healy Blvd. in Greenport at about 9:30 p.m. June 5.
The officers were looking for heroin, crack and powder cocaine, Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett said.
“The reality is, it [the Shared Services Team] doesn’t belong in our community,” Mussmann said. “These are military machines that were coming in and terrorizing — I stepped out the door and I thought I was in Iraq.”
Mussmann expressed concerns about how the appearance of the raids, which included officers in camouflage with military-grade weapons, might be perceived by those thinking about moving to the city.
“If we don’t get this under control, nobody will want to live in Hudson,” Mussmann said.
Mussmann was against Hudson Police Department’s participation in the team when it was formed in 2015, she said.
Former 2nd Ward Supervisor Ed Cross echoed Mussmann’s statements.
“Back a couple of years ago,the SWAT situation was brought before the county and I took a formal stand against it,” Cross said. “I think there has got to be another way of doing this.”
Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore responded to Cross and Mussmann’s comments Tuesday.
“When a county supervisor recently said at a public meeting ‘it doesn’t belong in our community’ and ‘if we don’t get this under control, nobody will want to live in Hudson,’ she was not talking about the drugs and violence in her neighborhood last summer,” he said. “She was referring to the 15 minutes the Shared Services Team was deployed on the 200 block. I guess it’s a matter of perspective.”
Last summer’s back-and-forth gun violence over drugs killed one man, and wounded four adults, two children and several others, police said.
The June 5 arrests have not been connected to last summer’s shootings, Moore said, adding last week’s raids were the first time the Shared Services Team was deployed this year.
Police have not released the names of the people taken into custody as a result of the June 5 raids. The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, which is handling the investigation into the raids, declined comment Tuesday.
The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office identified one of the defendants in the case Tuesday.
“With respect to the search warrants, the sheriff and Hudson police seized a substantial amount of heroin from Anthony Price Baynes, of 508 State St., on June 5,” Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka said in a statement. “The sheriff and Hudson police also seized a relatively large quantity of marijuana and ammunition (including ammunition of a handgun) from another location.
“I commend Sheriff Bartlett, his deputies, and Chief Moore, and his officers, for their continued hard work and diligence in these investigations, especially given the shootings of last summer,” Czajka added.
Baynes, 25, was arrested on a warrant and is in Columbia County Jail awaiting action by a grand jury, Czajka said.
Baynes previously served several years in state prison for first-degree robbery, a class B felony; according to the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s website. He, and two other teenagers, robbed a man at gunpoint in 2012 using a BB gun that looked like a handgun. Baynes was released Sept. 5.
The Columbia-Greene Shared Services Response Team was formed in June 2015. The team is comprised of deputies from Columbia and Greene counties and Hudson police officers who are trained to respond to situations that require a tactical response, according to a statement from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.
“The shared services response is always based on threat assessment given information developed through the course of the investigation,” Moore said.
“By sharing services, each agency reduces its individual commitment in terms of manpower and equipment, saving residents’ money,” according to a 2015 statement from the sheriff’s office when the team was formed. “It also provides a local resource that residents can depend on to respond quickly to critical incidents and emergencies directly affecting them.”
Common Council President Thomas DePietro suggested Mussmann voice her concerns at the Common Council’s next Police Committee meeting, which is scheduled for June 25 at 6 p.m.
Mussmann replied she would be there.
“As the chair [of the Police Committee], this is something that is important to me, especially when I stepped out in the street that night and I felt like I was in a war zone,” 1st Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson said. “I invite everyone to show up to the police committee meeting to figure this out as a community.”
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