Sheriff John Urquhart Keeps the “Gang” Together

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Darrion Holiwell is a self-described gang leader from Seattle who is accused of serious offenses. After learning that he was being investigated by the King County Sheriff’s Office, Holiwell concealed his substantial arsenal and sent a text message containing undisguised threats of violence.

Holiwell, it would seem, is the kind of hyper-violent criminal suspect for which SWAT teams were invented. As it happens, Holiwell is a SWAT team commander and the KCSO’s chief firearms instructor. He is accused of using his estranged second wife as a prostitute, providing steroids to fellow police officers, and stealing a substantial amount of ammunition for re-sale to local gun dealers.

Prostitution and drug use are vices, rather than crimes, of course — but it shouldn’t be forgotten that most SWAT deployments originate in efforts to treat those behaviors as if they were criminal. Holiwell, who has been a King County Deputy since 1995, was surely being paid enough to live comfortably. In addition to his tax-derived salary, Holiwell owned a firearms training company called Praetor. Yet according to Sheriff John Urquhart, his deputy pimped out his wife and started retailing steroids because he “needed the money” following an injury that cut into his overtime pay.

In a television interview several years ago, Holiwell described the King County SWAT team as a “gang”: “Bad guys, we’re a gang, too…. As soon as they unleash us, go hide; guaranteed, we’re coming to get you.”

The indictment describes Holiwell as a significant threat to the community:

“The defendant has been violating the law and the public trust for years…. [There are] significant concerns for the safety of the community and the many witnesses who have cooperated in the investigation and whose identities will be revealed.” The indictment also claims that “Both [Holiwell's] current wife and former wife reported to investigators concerning acts of physical violence, assaults, and violent behavior … that went unreported and are now outside the Statute of Limitations.”

Holiwell, who was arrested and given $1.550,000 bond, was tipped off before his colleagues took him into custody. A text message recovered from his iPhone indicates that he is planning to retaliate against his enemies:

“Sh*t storm is coming…. I got something for there [sic] asses. Hang on, it’s about to get real.”

Sheriff Urquhart admits that his SWAT team, which is deployed, on average, about twice a week, is compromised. Yet the sheriff insists that Holiwell’s government-licensed gang will be “operating as normal” until the investigation is completed. If he were at all concerned about the safety of the public he is sworn to protect, Urguhart would take immediate action to disband Holiwell’s gang. But the sheriff clearly has other priorities.

11:19 am on June 23, 2014
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