Wharton County Sheriff's Department searches Forest Lawn home for intruders (courtesy journal-spectator.com)

“Armed with shotguns and assault rifles, deputies and constables rushed to a Forrest Lawn home Monday morning after it was reported that there were several people sneaking around the neighborhood,” journal-spectator.com reports. “But after a half hour search rummaging through waist high weeds and peering beneath manufactured homes, law enforcement officials came up empty handed.” Manufactured homes eh? Sounds (and looks) like a trailer park to me. Which might explain the size of the cavalry and the heavy artillery. “More than half a dozen responded, with deputies, investigators and Precinct 2 constables arriving at the rural home. Uncertain of what they might encounter, officers armed themselves with assault rifles and shotguns while they carefully searched the property. Investigators also searched neighboring streets by car.” A good time was had by all but nobody found nothin’. If that’s the whole story, one wonders A) if anything bad ever happens in Wharton Texas (population 8,832) and B) what exactly was Johnny Law expecting to encounter?

69 Responses to This is How They Look for Suspicious People in Wharton, TX

  1. The now heavily militarized police are just sitting around waiting for the slightest excuse to go out and have some fun playing Joe Tactical.

  2. It’s a trailer park. Meth heads, skin heads and all sorts of messed up heads can be found there. My dads family was full of biker gang types and a lot of them live in trailer parks.

      • True, nice folk also live in a trailer park. I’ve lived in a trailer park. But I always had a gun close. Nice folks aren’t the only residents.

  3. Possibly an armed fugitive? Or a meth cook?

    Rural areas aren’t entirely crime-free, though the lower population density does greatly reduce crimes of opportunity, etc. Oh, and, since it’s Texas, I’m sure all of them were armed.

  4. We don’t know what the original call was, nor do we know what the calling party said. Before one jumps to conclusions, one should get the whole story. Oh, but wait, this is the Internet. Never mind.

    • Yp, we DO NOT know what the original call was about. But we have heard bout “SWAT-ting”. If even the police in a rural town like this respond like a marine patrol in an Afghan village can you imagine the fun your neighbor will have if you piss him off? Call from a pay phone (yes, you can still find m if you look hard enough), “I just saw 4 guys unloading gallons of some sort of chemicals at…” (Your address here). Then sit across the street and upload your new video to YouTube.

  5. I think their arms are reasonable given they could have been expecting to find a meth lab and its associated soldiers.

  6. So long as no ones civil rights were violated I don’t see the problem. I don’t think we can say that a pistol is for immediate personal defense only, carried only because a rifle is inconvenient and then cast dispersions on people who maybe walking into a gunfight for carrying long arms. “Suspicious Persons” might be kids throwing rocks or the local gang parading with weapons. Without more information and given that no ones rights were violated I don’t see the problem here.

    • I agree that if you’re going to a gunfight, bring a rifle. Pistols are for when you find yourself in a gunfight and need to fight your way to your rifle. However, given the propensity for modern law enforcers to egregiously violate life and liberty, I’d prefer an organization that focuses on prevention of violence and easing of tensions, not escalations of both.

  7. I also love how even OFWGs instantly associate meth with trailer parks, but you say anything about crack and the hood and you’re a racist.

      • Excellent point, Don. I moved to Houston in ’86 at the start of the crack epidemic, and “insane black people on crack” was headline news every day. But my white hipster neighborhood was awash with crank and it never got a mention… white folks on meth just weren’t as good for sensational news. But now that crack has faded (I now live in a predominately-minority neighborhood where “crackhead” means “guy in his 50s who has been in jail 6 months out of 12 since the 80s”) and meth has hit small towns it is always good for a story. That said, I’ve had tweakers (both black and white) for neighbors for a long time, which is why I have guns and dogs.

  8. From the article linked:

    “Thomason said she also saw several people wearing hoodies running around behind her home. Fearful of a break-in, she called 9-1-1.”

    There you have it….

    • Since this little town of 8800 and change had around 500 robberies, thefts and so on in 2011, I think her fears were justified. Hoodies in 105 degree Texas heat? Doesn’t sound too suspicious to me.

  9. I fail to see the problem either. When regular old citizens take a “tactical” pistol class from folks like Clint Smith, we’re always indoctrinated with the notion that, “a pistol is what you use to fight your way to a rifle.” Or, “don’t take a pistol to a rifle fight.”

    If I go to investigate something suspicious on our rural acreage, it’s generally with a carbine or shotgun in hand (although I’ll admit I’m usually more concerned about mountain lions or bears than crack heads, where I live.)

    As long as they didn’t roll up in an APC and herd all the wimmen and chilluns out into the street, this looks like a good ol’ Texas snake hunt, to me.

    • Agreed, always grab a long gun if you have time. And trust me, if half the goofballs posting negative stuff on here, were in their shoes, they would have the long guns out also.

  10. It’s pretty hard to argue “an AR15 is what citizens need, because that’s what the police use and think is most effective”, and then question the police when they show up with them. No-knock raids in full-tac gear with armed vehicle support…for 2 teenagers smokin’ a doobie? OK, now we can question that.

    • Ayup, police should be able to carry anything their fellow citizen can, and I didn’t see any 4th or 5th amendment violations in the original article.

      • It’s on Hwy 59, which is a major drug route to the north. Anywhere on 59 in Texas can be drug problems. But I’m thinking local trouble here. Drug haulers don’t slink around trailer parks, they got deliveries to make. You know, doing the work Americans don’t want to do.

  11. The militarization of police forces has more to do with conduct than it does with gear. I could care less if a police officer wearing body armor, dark clothing, and an AR-15 politely knocks on my door and asks if I have seen anything suspicious, requests help, or if he informs me I left the light on in my car accidentally and need to turn it off to prevent having a dead battery in the morning.

    Militarization is when an officer, having information that a suspect might be in an ares, uses that information as blanket justification to go kicking in doors unannounced throughout the neighborhood. I have no qualm with them being sufficiently armed for defense, but I do take issue with police having an offensive posture toward the population at large.

    One might argue that equipping police with a certain kind of gear, such as .50s and APCs, encourages an offensive mindset, but isn’t that the same kind of argument that statist-liberals try and use against us in saying that we shouldn’t have AR-15’s and such? Don’t they try and argue that our ability to carry a weapon necessarily puts us in a mind set of being eager to use it? Why should we argue that liberals are wrong and that a lack of culture, training, morals are the cause of violence rather than the tool, but then turn around and argue the opposite against police forces which are made up of equally human people?

    The point is that if police are using advanced equipment improperly in the violation of people’s liberties, the evil lies in the institutional culture of the bureaucracy, in the individual officer’s willingness to use the equipment in that way, the department’s lack of morals, and bad training, but not in the equipment itself.

    Now I also believe that civilians should be able to own any piece of equipment that the police can, in order to protect ourselves from the use or threat of unconstitutional force. Therefore, the problem is not the police ability to acquire explosives, armored vehicles, fully automatic weapons, etc., but in the government’s insistence that civilians cant have those same tools.

    In the picture above, I don’t see any equipment being used by the officers that any other law-abiding Texas citizen can’t own, and I see them cautiously searching the exterior of a house in a place I have no reason to believe is not accessible to the general public, or where they cannot legally be without a warrant. I don’t see them kicking down doors or bearing their arms in a threatening manner toward anyone. They look to me like they are simply minimally equipped to encounter a potential threat. Accordingly, if this article is intended to draw public ire, I see nothing here ire-worthy.

    • I would agree if it weren’t for the government’s exclusive claim on the initiation of violence without repercussion or consequence. As it stands, I’d much prefer all their enforcers to be LESS well-armed than the general public.

      • I don’t disagree with the point that qualified immunity means that often officers/agents are insulated from having to take personal responsibility for the consequences for their mistakes, or sometimes nefarious acts, whereas a normal citizen would not be so immunized. In as much, such immunity may be a contributor in lessening an officer’s care or caution, in some circumstances, by reducing the potential personal gravity of the outcome on the officer. That, immunized lessening of caution and care necessarily flips the power balance against the citizen and in favor of the government actor, but again this is a policy/culture issue not an equipment issue.

        Without necessarily disagreeing or agreeing with you, I understand the proposition that the citizenry’s superiority at arms could re-equalize the balance of power. But I worry that such a policy could deepen the adversarial relationship between citizen and officer rather than fostering an atmosphere of equality, cooperation, respect, and mutual-benefit. I think it might do little to alleviate the offensive posture that many agencies and departments have taken toward the people that pay their salaries.

      • I don’t disagree with the point that qualified immunity means that often officers/agents are insulated from having to take personal responsibility for the consequences for their mistakes, or sometimes nefarious acts, whereas a normal citizen would not be so immunized. In as much, such immunity may be a contributor in lessening an officer’s care or caution, in some circumstances, by reducing the potential personal gravity of the outcome on the officer. That, immunized lessening of caution and care necessarily flips the power balance against the citizen and in favor of the government actor, but again this is a policy/culture issue not an equipment issue.

        Without necessarily disagreeing or agreeing with you, I understand the proposition that the citizenry’s superiority at arms could re-equalize the balance of power. But I worry that such a policy could deepen the adversarial relationship between citizen and officer rather than fostering an atmosphere of equality, cooperation, respect, and mutual-benefit. I think it might do little to alleviate the offensive posture that many agencies and departments have taken toward the people that pay their salaries.

    • We have a winner!

      I don’t care what equipment police have, as long as….

      1. They are accountable for their actions
      2. They utilize the proper “public servant” mindset of cops of old
      3. I can purchase anything they have for myself if I want to.

      The “us vs them” mindset that is driven into cops is the root of the problem, combined with a system preventing police accountability.

  12. I live very close to this town. Like many towns in America there is crime. I don’t know the specifics on this case, maybe they have had problems in the past. But I do know one thing, when me or any other citizen calls the law for whatever reason I expect them to show up with their guns! What would you all be saying if they had not shown up and something bad would have happen to a law abiding citizen. There are and always will be law enforcement officers being a little “over the top”, but atleast they show up and risk their lives protecting yours in most cases.

  13. Eh, they’re prepared. They look appropriately geared to me.

    For the record, I looked around that area on Google Maps. It’s not a trailer park, it’s a neighborhood of quarter and half acre lots. Most of the homes are trailers, but not all of them.

    • I agree completely. They aren’t overly-kitted up and they have tools that are appropriate for what they’re trying to do.

      Remember, police aren’t out there to play a friendly game of hide and seek.

      One has a shotgun, one has a rifle, and they all have handguns. They’re prepared to deal with most bad things that could be lurking around.

      Now, all over TTAG, I’ve heard commenters say that an AR or a shotgun are necessary for home defense. Then, they go apes**t when they see a LEO with a patrol rifle. Good lord, why?

      • Yeah it’s pretty ridiculous to expect officers to not deploy their long guns on a call that has a high probability of turning violent. Also in these rural areas you need the capability of a rifle to address threats at long distances.

        Situations such as this where officers are defending the public with ar15s while responding to a woman’s call for help pushes back the stereotype the anti-2nd amendment folks would like to place on these weapons. Law enforcement is demonstrating to the public that these are the types of weapons to have during a possible lethal threat.

        The image of these officers strengthens our argument & I’d stand by these guys any day.

  14. If asked to check out an unknown area and given my choice of weapon I would have err’d on the side of caution with the AR or 12ga. just like they did. After a something goes bump in the night at my house(rural) I clear the place with a shotty just to be sure. I do however live in coyote/meth head country.

  15. I don’t know what the police was expecting to meet exactly, but since Lt. Daniel Marek is the Narcotics Enforcement Division supervisor for the Sheriff’s office and is mentionned in the article, well, they might have thought about a meth lab too.

  16. Problem with long guns in a trailer park: the question is not whether a bullet will penetrate a trailer wall, but how many walls. And innocent occupants. The question of what the ideal, maximally safe weapon to use in that environment is intriguing.

    • Wasn’t one of the main points in the past week of why an AR15 is great for HD is that the rounds are less likely to overpenatrate than 12ga buck?

      • This is a problem I have with a lot of posters who emphasize penetration. I live in a neighborhood of old houses with lots of innocent bystanders… the .38 full of standard-velocity hollowpoints gets me to the .22 semiauto rifle. Plenty of firepower for any situation I might realistically expect, and I don’t have to worry about the +P+ .49 Magnum going right thru some creep and nailing Grandma four houses down. Lived in the country for a few months after I got out of the military and had huge fun with my Super Blackhawk, but when I moved to the city I got rid of the Ruger and loaded the shotgun with birdshot. All I needed at 7-foot range (which was maximum tactical range inside my apartment) with no worries about punching through seven walls and shooting a sleeping neighbor.

  17. What? No city wide shelter in place order with paramilitary forces ordering people out of their homes at gunpoint and performing unwarranted searches? No wonder those dumb Texans didn’t find their guy.

  18. half a dozen. One of them should have pulled up in his king ranch truck complete with smoker in tow and they could have a grilled some steaks while the remainder of the troopers flashlighted under neath trailer skirts.

  19. I’m sure that Wharton has a well-respected Business School and all that, but it looks like a dump. And there ain’t no dump like a Texas dump.

  20. “Is y’all one of those Mus-i-lim terror-ists I keep hearin’ about? Cause if you are, y’all are gonna meet yer maker courtesy of my Moss-burg!”

  21. Bein’ an es-cape-ee from California, the name Forest Lawn carries for me a very specific connotation as a place in which nothing much ever happens.

  22. I agree with gloomhound. No innocent homeowners or their pets were murdered and from the article it looks like there were no swat teams pretending they were raiding the bin laden compound.

    Come to think of it there is probably a correlation between those two things. 😉

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