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Despite the popularity of the bumper sticker, our society really doesn't encourage us to "question authority."

Especially when that authority is "the authorities," i.e. our law enforcement infrastructure.

That message was driven home to me loudly and clearly after I wrote a blog that also ran in the print edition of The Press Democrat earlier this month that questioned the wisdom and the tactics of law enforcement in a scary and violent May 3 raid in Petaluma.

You might remember the incident. Some 40 to 50 heavily armed federal agents and police officers in military garb gathered before 4 a.m. in a residential neighborhood off of McDowell Boulevard, apparently to serve search and arrest warrants at a McNeil Avenue house occupied by Victor Flores, 20, who authorities described as a gang member involved in a triple homicide in 2010 in South San Francisco.

Details are murky about exactly what happened in those pre-dawn hours, because there has been little official disclosure from the government agencies involved. But from witness accounts, we know this: As the neighborhood slept, the agents apparently set off flash-bang grenades and stormed into the home, where "they encountered a barrage of gunfire from an assault rifle," according to an official from federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which participated in the raid.

Three agents were wounded in the ensuing gunfight, all with what were described as "non-life-threatening injuries." One suspect was arrested and a dog was killed.

To date, federal officials have refused to discuss specifics of the raid, including whether they believe Flores shot the three agents or, if he did not, who did.

In my blog, I questioned the tactics of the agencies that flooded a neighborhood with personnel and equipment and then engaged a suspect in a wild gunfight in the middle of the night. I wondered whether there might have been a better way to arrest the suspect (who, it turned out, had made a court appearance just the week before). I suggested it was lucky that more people weren't hurt.

"My God man, you really need to shut the hell up."

That was one of the comments I received on-line and by e-mail in reaction to my questions, and it summed up the tone of many more.

"I am always amazed at the amount of Arm Chair quarterbacks after such events," another reader commented. "I for one thank all the men and women who put their life on the line to keep us safe each day! I am sure they all did what was the best and safest thing for all of us and our community!"

I don't doubt that whoever planned and organized this raid – and 10 others around the Bay Area that were carried out simultaneously to arrest those allegedly involved in the gang and the 2010 murders – thought it was "the best and safest thing." But people with good intentions make mistakes all the time. And when those people are public servants, the public usually has no problem with asking if they could have found a better way to do the public's business.

Except, it seems, when the public servants are cops.

"I am surprised that Chris would take this approach before knowing all of the information. I always thought he was a supporter of Law Enforcement," wrote a retired Santa Rosa cop who I have known for decades. "We should be thinking about the (three) federal agents in the hospital who put their lives on the line so we could sleep."

I do support law enforcement, and I appreciate the job they do to keep us safe. But that doesn't mean that I shouldn't ask questions about an incident that, from the information available to us at this point, seemed to put a lot of people in danger on McNeil Avenue on the morning of May 3.

Was that huge show of force necessary? Could the violence have been avoided? What were the circumstances surrounding the wounding of the three agents? The list of questions is long; the available answers are few.

"As this is an ongoing investigation, I can only confirm that we continue to look into the circumstances around the shooting," an FBI spokesperson emailed me this week in response to several questions. "The ICE agents have all been released from the hospital and are recovering."

I'm glad to hear the agents are OK. But I'd still like to know the details of what happened that morning. And, as it turns out, I'm not the only one who's interested. Despite an overwhelming majority of commenters who suggested I had no business asking questions about the incident, a few expressed appreciation that I had.

"Thank you," one wrote. "I'm a Petaluma resident who would like a full disclosure of what the force was doing there and why."

"Full disclosure" is a concept that we as citizens usually embrace. In this case, we're still waiting for it.

Chris Coursey's blog offers a community commentary and forum, from issues of the day to the ingredients of life in Sonoma County.