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GLENS FALLS -- The police officers jogged to all four sides of the Walnut Street building Tuesday, some in uniform, some in plainclothes, some with guns drawn.
They took up positions at outside corners of the aged, white duplex, Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Stark lugging to the door a metal battering ram with the word "Thunderbolt" emblazoned on the side.
A few knocks at the door and a shout, "Police! Search warrant!" produced no response, though it drew a crowd of onlookers from Poopie's restaurant across the street.
"His car is here. He's got to be here," Warren County Sheriff's Investigator Kibby French said of the man they were targeting, whose home they believed held a large quantity of marijuana.
With a thud from the battering ram and the sound of cracking wood, Stark, French and other members of the Northern Branch of the Capital District Drug Task Force stormed the apartment.
Some bolted up the stairs -- others into a room to the left. Those who did not have their guns drawn held flashlights or had their hands on the weapons that sat on their hip or in leg holsters. The plainclothes officers all wore heavy bulletproof vests and jackets with the word "Police" emblazoned on them.
Within seconds, it was apparent to those standing just outside the 34 Walnut St. apartment Tuesday afternoon that marijuana would be found inside. The pungent odor of the drug wafted out onto the street.
"We could smell it as soon as we got the door open," Glens Falls Police Detective Sgt. Lloyd Swartz said.
Officers methodically checked the rooms. No one appeared to be home, despite the shiny, black Audi sedan -- believed by police to belong to resident James Barlow -- parked in the driveway.
"If you're here, you've got to come out," French exclaimed, as officers checked possible hiding spots. "We're not going away."
Within minutes, the effort to find Barlow, 34, turned into a quest to find the marijuana that was apparently inside. Stark and his search dog, a yellow Labrador retriever named Duggan, checked the apartment.
A floor safe found in a second-floor room was identified as the likely hiding spot; the room smelled of marijuana, police said.
State Police Senior Investigator Jeff Gildersleeve went to his sport utility vehicle to retrieve what officers jokingly called the "key" to the safe -- a large sledge hammer and a three-pronged pry bar.
The heavy pounding of metal-on-metal shook one side of the house, as the tools were used to split the safe open.
The noise rousted the resident of the building's other apartment, a woman who said her grandson lived in the apartment being searched and who came out to talk to police. She identified herself as the building's owner.
She had already been shown the search warrant, and investigators had explained to her what was going on. Police had received information Barlow had harvested marijuana plants recently and had the crop in his apartment. The tip had been enough to secure the warrant.
But as the noise of the safe-cracking rang through the neighborhood, the woman warned the officers they weren't going to find anything and would have to pay for any repairs that were needed.
Swartz told her only the wooden door had been damaged, the battering ram poking a hole through it, but the rest of the apartment was structurally unharmed.
The law does not require police to pay for repairs, provided they went to the home for which the warrant was issued.
"He (Barlow) has been making enough money here; he can afford to replace the door," Swartz told her.
The pounding ended. Glens Falls Police officers Phil Lindsey and James Fiorini emerged to tell investigators the search had been "positive." Bags of marijuana had been found inside the safe, and Lindsey retrieved a camera from a patrol car to photograph it.
Minutes later, Swartz walked out with a shoe box filled with bags of green vegetation and books about growing marijuana and catalogs to buy seeds, and the woman -- who would not give her name -- seemed to have had a change of opinion about her grandson's living arrangements.
"He's not living here anymore," she told the officers.
The marijuana added up to about a half-pound, Swartz said. From its smell, and the fact its alleged owner knew where and how to purchase top-notch seeds, it appeared it was high-quality marijuana, police said.
Barlow returned home later Tuesday afternoon and was met by police who charged him with fourth-degree criminal possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor. He was released on his own recognizance pending prosecution in Glens Falls City Court.
The charge is punishable by up to a year in Warren County Jail.
Quote: from Poopie's restaurant across the street.
Who'd want to eat at a place with that name??
-------------------- "What is in us that turns a deaf ear to the cries of human suffering?"
"Belief is a beautiful armor
But makes for the heaviest sword"
- John Mayer
Making the noise "penicillin" is no substitute for actually taking penicillin.
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." -Abraham Lincoln
Quote: Jim said: I want to add this article was the full front page yesterday... tons of pictures of cops surrounding the building and shit with their ar-15's and all...
For some dude with a half pound in his safe... what a fucking waste of resources...
-------------------- Teonanacatl, open up my eyes
This sacrament, this prayer, beyond the world of lies
Guide me clearly through that which I dont understand
Give me strength to find the path
Help me fight any demons as you flow through me wholely
This is my prayer, that you protect me from evil, and bring me closer to peace
And open up my eyes, so i can see things as you do
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