Why Chester County Cops Dislike Me

When I lived in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, a neighbor was murdered in her home. I had installed a video surveillance system around my house when I first bought it 6 years prior. (My house was isolated from the street and backed up to a county trail that I thought could be a source of trouble, but to that point nothing bad had happened.) When detectives came knocking I suggested that my video might have picked something up that would help them with the crime. But when we went to the corner of the basement where I had the recorder, we discovered that it had no power because it was plugged into a GFCI outlet that had tripped. The last recordings showed a thunderstorm a few weeks prior.

This misfortune really piqued the police. They came back with search warrants, not only for my surveillance system, but also for all of my computers! (Evidently, at least in Chester County, Pennsylvania, judges will sign any warrant put in front of them.) They took all my electronics to their “computer forensics lab” and told me I would get them back when they got around to imaging them. They didn’t care that my job and income depended on my computers. They seemed determined to punish me for … I guess buying a house next door to someone who would later be murdered, and failing to monitor my private video recorder?

It takes a few hours to make a forensic copy of a hard drive, but the police didn’t return my computers for over a week. Months went by and they didn’t return my surveillance recorder (which stores everything on a standard hard drive that is easily cloned). I repeatedly asked the detectives and the assistant district attorney (ADA) who had joined the murder investigation (still unsolved) to return it, and they did not. I suggested that if they wouldn’t clone it they could just keep the hard drive and return the recorder to me, since I could install a new drive to get it back in operation. They continued to ignore me. So more than a year later I petitioned the court that had warranted its seizure to order them to return it to me. The ADA really didn’t like that!

I mention all of this because it provides another explanation for why some Chester County law enforcement officers subsequently took a special interest in harassing me. To be continued…

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