Everything below is quoted exactly from a CNSNews.com news story by Pete Winn, Senior Writer/Editor
The U.S. Army has launched an inquiry into how and why active duty troops from Fort Rucker, Ala., came to be placed on the streets of Samson, Ala., during last week's murder spree in that tiny South Alabama community. The use of the troops was a possible violation of federal law.
“On March 10, after a report of an apparent mass murder in Samson, Ala., 22 military police soldiers from Fort Rucker, Ala., along with the provost marshal, were sent to the city of Samson,” Harvey Perritt, spokesman for the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) at Fort Monroe, Va., told CNSNews.com on Monday.
“The purpose for sending the military police, the authority for doing so, and what duties they performed is the subject of an ongoing commander’s inquiry--directed by the commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. Martin Dempsey.”
TRADOC is the headquarters command for Ft. Rucker.
“In addition to determining the facts, this inquiry will also determine whether law, regulation and policy were followed,” Perritt added. “Until those facts are determined, it would be inappropriate to speculate or comment further.”
Jim Stromenger, a dispatcher at the Samson Police Department, confirmed the MP’s presence in the town, telling CNSNews.com that the troops “came in to help with traffic control and to secure the crime scene”--and the department was glad for the help.
“We’ve been getting a lot of calls,” Stromenger said. “They weren’t here to police, let me make that clear. They were here to help with traffic and to control the crime scene--so people wouldn’t trample all over (it).”
Stromenger said the town needed help--calls had gone out to all police departments in the area.
“We only have a five-man police department,” he told CNSNews.com. “We had officers from all surrounding areas helping out. There were a lot of streets to be blocked off and there had to be someone physically there to block them off. That’s what these MPs were doing. I don’t think they were even armed. The troops helped keep nosy people away.”
But Stromenger said it wasn’t the Samson Police Department that called for the troops.
“I don’t know who called Fort Rucker. But someone did. They wouldn’t have been able to come if someone hadn’t,” he added
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David Rittgers, legal policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said there are other laws barring use of federal troops outside of federal property, as well.
“Title 18, Section 375 of the U.S. Code is a direct restriction on military personnel, and it basically precludes any member of the army in participating in a ‘search, seizure, arrest or other similar activity, unless participation is otherwise authorized by law,’ “ Rittgers told CNSNews.com.
“The security of a crime scene is something I think that would roll up in the category of a ‘search, seizure or other activity,’” Rittgers added.