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Snafu causes 50 raids on Brooklyn home
March 19, 2010 permalink
Once a place is on an official bad list, there is no getting off, not even by the new owner. A Brooklyn family was repeatedly raided by police on account of the previous owners.
Computer snafu is behind at least 50 'raids' on Brooklyn couple's home
Blame it on a computer.
Embarrassed cops on Thursday cited a "computer glitch" as the reason police targeted the home of an elderly, law-abiding couple more than 50 times in futile hunts for bad guys.
Apparently, the address of Walter and Rose Martin's Brooklyn home was used to test a department-wide computer system in 2002.
What followed was years of cops appearing at the Martins' door looking for murderers, robbers and rapists - as often as three times a week.
After the Daily News exclusively reported on the couple's plague of police raids yesterday, apologetic detectives from the NYPD's Identity Theft Squad showed up at their home.
Rose Martin, 82, said they told her Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered them to solve the puzzle - stat.
By the end of the day, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said the snafu was traced to a 2002 computer test, though he couldn't explain why the couple's address was used as a test case in the first place.
He said that when the Martins complained to cops in 2007 about their scary series of official doorknocks, police tried to wipe their address from the system.
But the raids continued. The most recent, on Tuesday, left 83-year-old World War II vet Walter Martin woozy from soaring blood pressure.
Investigators found yesterday that not every computer file bearing the Martin's address was deleted.
"It wasn't supposed to stay in [the system]," Browne said. "It's been removed."
In order to be "doubly cautious" in the future, Browne said cops have flagged the Martin's address so no officer will be dispatched to the home without double-checking the address.
A skeptical Rose Martin asked the department to write her an official letter, dubious that such a long-standing problem could be fixed in a day.
"It seems like too simple a correction for something that has been going on for eight years," she said.
Meanwhile, The News learned problems with the house go back to before the Martins bought it in 1997: The previous owner sold the modest Marine Park house because police and fire crews kept showing up at his door chasing bogus reports.
In his case, the freaked-out former owner - who fled the city because of what happened at the house - told The News he was being targeted by a still-unknown tormentor who sicced the cops on him 30 times in the three years starting in 1994.
"Someone was calling from different pay phones in the area, calling in fires, domestic disputes, kids screaming - whatever," said the man, who is still so scared he asked his name not be printed. "All totally unfounded."
The ex-owner said he complained multiple times starting in 1994, and his brother, a city firefighter, helped to get fire marshals to investigate.
The calls, which the marshals believed might have been made by a devious vengeful neighbor, stopped about six months before he sold to the Martins, he said.
"I always thought I was being targeted personally - and, to be honest with you, it freaks me out that it's happening again," the ex-owner said.
Source: New York Daily News