2 Longmont officers suspended after warrantless searches

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DENVER | Two Longmont police officers are being suspended with pay after an investigation of warrantless drug dog searches of units in a subsidized public housing complex.

The Denver Post reports that Officer Michael Marquardt was suspended for 30 hours without pay and Officer Billy Sawyer was suspended for 10 hours for their roles in the searches.

The City of Longmont previously agreed to pay more than $200,000 in a settlement with four residents of The Suites Housing Complex.

Residents alleged their apartments were searched in May without their consent and that the officers didn’t have warrants. The searches were conducted with police dogs.

On Wednesday, the city released results of a Weld County Sheriff’s Office investigation. The probe found the officers didn’t get supervisors’ approval for the searches, which occurred after Krystal Erazo, director of the Longmont Housing Authority, contacted Marquardt about having a K-9 search after a complex resident died of a drug overdose in April.

The November settlement between Longmont and the residents, who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, required the city to take input from the ACLU on search policies and hold a public forum to address the incident.

Tenants provided the ACLU with copies of notices that described the searches as a training opportunity for dogs in the police department’s K-9 unit.

Settlement negotiations began when Longmont Public Safety Chief Mike Butler reached out and acknowledged problems with the searches, ACLU attorneys said.

Residents’ complaints about the warrantless searches were first documented by KUSA-TV.

Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com