Students, neighbors mistake police training for raid

Andrew Littlejohn | @AndrewLittlej19, Contributing Writer

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The Tuscaloosa Police Department’s Special Response Team (TFRS) performed a practical training on a property at the intersection of Elmwood Drive and 10th Avenue on Thursday, Aug. 22, which some residents say they were improperly warned about.  

Addie Teske, a sophomore majoring in hospitality management and event planning, and her roommate Karley Wick, a sophomore majoring in occupational therapy, said they were unaware of the impending training that started that morning at 9 a.m. 

“We thought it was real at first,” she said. “They never warned us, they never told us they were coming. We thought it was full-on real, like something was going on in the house. We didn’t know if anyone was in there.”

Teske said the property, which sits directly across from the house she and Wick are renting, was sanctioned off with yellow caution tape that morning, but she said they thought it must have been from an incident from the previous night. In the front yard there was a yellow sign that said “POLICE TRAINING EXERCISE (in black) DO NOT ENTER (in red),” but nearby residents reported no other signage around the neighborhood.

“We were like, ‘That’s weird, I wonder if it’s actually an exercise, or if they’re just not telling us something,’” Teske said. 

Around 9 a.m., Teske and Wick were sitting on a balcony toward the back of their property while talking to Teske’s parents on the phone, when a black police truck showed up and with at least 18 fully-equipped TFRS officers. Teske said the officers set guns up on the hood of the truck before they threw a flashbang into the house. 

“We were all like, ‘What the heck?’” Teske said. 

 

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Teske said she went over and tapped an officer on the shoulder to ask about what had just taken place, and he said the soon-to-be-demolished property was authorized by the city and property owner to be used as a training facility. 

According to a press release from the Tuscaloosa Police Department and additional comment from public information and community relations officer Lt. Teena Richardson, the police department knocked on neighbors’ doors before the training began to inform residents that the exercise was taking place. 

“On August 22, 2019, the Tuscaloosa Police Department’s Special Response Team was conducting a practical training exercise at a residence near the intersection of Elmwood Drive and 10th Avenue with the permission of the property owner,” Richardson stated in the release. “Prior to the training exercise officers went door to door and place signage on the streets in the area informing residents of the training exercise. This was only a training exercise and not a raid on any individual(s) or property.”

But Teske and Wick were not the only neighbors who said they were not informed about the training that morning. 

Will Schramm, a sophomore majoring in finance and economics, lives two houses behind the property and said he and his roommates didn’t hear any knocks that morning. He said they were unaware of the exercise until his roommate heard the flashbang. 

“As far as I knew it was just some random raid going on,” Schramm said. 

While Schramm said he wasn’t especially concerned about the training itself, he noted that more warning was necessary.

“They can very easily put something in our mailbox or tape something to our door,” he said.  

Richardson said on Friday morning that signage was also placed in the streets, but she could not confirm when or if officers knocked on doors. 

“It was after the fact, after they had finished, that I put [the press release] out,” Richardson said. “But the letter that I sent out to the media yesterday, there’s nothing else to add to it.”

Richardson also said surrounding garbage was the owner’s responsibility to clean up.

“The property owner gave them permission to do it because he’s going to clean the property himself,” Richardson said. “When they have property that’s going to be demolished like that, they allow them to do the practical exercises because they’re going to tear it down anyway.”

According to former listings by realtor.com and Zillow, the property value for the three-bedroom, two-bath home, which was originally built in 1942, has decreased slightly over the past four years. According to Zillow, the listing was removed in 2016 by Farris Real Estate and Development.

According to the company’s records, the house was sold to private owners, who then said they sold it to Chase Adcox, a local business man, about two weeks ago. Adcox told The Crimson White that he was aware of the training and did not make efforts to warn residents prior to it, as that was the police department’s responsibility. He also noted that there was plenty of signage around the area.