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Thread: SWAT TEAM MIS-USE - Sanctioned Police Brutality documented in Maryland

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    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    Link: http://reason.com/archives/2010/03/0...-raids-per-day


    Cheye Calvo's July 2008 encounter with a Prince George's County, Maryland, SWAT team is now pretty well-known: After intercepting a package of marijuana at a delivery service warehouse, police completed the delivery, in disguise, to the address on the package. That address belonged to Calvo, who also happened to be the mayor of the small Prince George’s town of Berwyn Heights. When Calvo's mother-in-law brought the package in from the porch, the SWAT team pounced, forcing their way into Calvo's home. By the time the raid was over, Calvo and his mother-in-law had been handcuffed for hours, police realized they'd made a mistake, and Calvo's two black Labradors lay dead on the floor from gunshot wounds.

    As a result of this colossal yet not-unprecedented screw-up, plus Calvo's notoriety and persistence, last year Maryland became the first state in the country to make every one of its police departments issue a report on how often and for what purpose they use their SWAT teams. The first reports from the legislation are in, and the results are disturbing.

    Over the last six months of 2009, SWAT teams were deployed 804 times in the state of Maryland, or about 4.5 times per day. In Prince George's County alone, with its 850,000 residents, a SWAT team was deployed about once per day. According to a Baltimore Sun analysis, 94 percent of the state's SWAT deployments were used to serve search or arrest warrants, leaving just 6 percent in response to the kinds of barricades, bank robberies, hostage takings, and emergency situations for which SWAT teams were originally intended.

    Worse even than those dreary numbers is the fact that more than half of the county’s SWAT deployments were for misdemeanors and nonserious felonies. That means more than 100 times last year Prince George’s County brought state-sanctioned violence to confront people suspected of nonviolent crimes. And that's just one county in Maryland. These outrageous numbers should provide a long-overdue wake-up call to public officials about how far the pendulum has swung toward institutionalized police brutality against its citizenry, usually in the name of the drug war.

    But that’s unlikely to happen, at least in Prince George's County. To this day, Sheriff Michael Jackson insists his officers did nothing wrong in the Calvo raid—not the killing of the dogs, not neglecting to conduct any corroborating investigation to be sure they had the correct house, not failing to notify the Berwyn Heights police chief of the raid, not the repeated and documented instances of Jackson’s deputies playing fast and loose with the truth.

    Jackson, who's now running for county executive, is incapable of shame. He has tried to block Calvo's efforts to access information about the raid at every turn. Last week, Prince George's County Circuit Judge Arthur M. Ahalt ruled that Calvo's civil rights suit against the county can go forward. But Jackson has been fighting to delay the discovery process in that suit until federal authorities complete their own investigation into the raid. That would likely (and conveniently) prevent Prince George's County voters from learning any embarrassing details about the raid until after the election.

    But there is some good news to report here, too. The Maryland state law, as noted, is the first of its kind in the country, and will hopefully serve as a model for other states in adding some much-needed transparency to the widespread use and abuse of SWAT teams. And some Maryland legislators want to go even further. State Sen. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's), for example, wants to require a judge's signature before police can deploy a SWAT team. Muse has sponsored another bill that would ban the use of SWAT teams for misdemeanor offenses. The latter seems like a no-brainer, but it's already facing strong opposition from law enforcement interests. Police groups opposed the transparency bill, too.

    Beyond policy changes, the Calvo raid also seems to have also sparked media and public interest in how SWAT teams are deployed in Maryland. The use of these paramilitary police units has increased dramatically over the last 30 years, by 1,000 percent or more, resulting in the drastic militarization of police. It's a trend that seems to have escaped much media and public notice, let alone informed debate about policies and oversight procedures. But since the Calvo raid in 2008, Maryland newspapers, TV news crews, activists, and bloggers have been documenting mistaken, botched, or disproportionately aggressive raids across the state.

    Lawmakers tend to be wary of questioning law enforcement officials, particularly when it comes to policing tactics. They shouldn't be. If anything, the public employees who are entrusted with the power to use force, including lethal force, deserve the most scrutiny. It's unfortunate that it took a violent raid on a fellow public official for Maryland's policymakers to finally take notice of tactics that have been used on Maryland citizens for decades now. But at least these issues are finally on the table.

    Lawmakers in other states should take notice. It's time to have a national discussion on the wisdom of sending phalanxes of cops dressed like soldiers into private homes in search of nonviolent and consensual crimes.

    Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine.
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitableand let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come . PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    Thanks Thundar and Balko and Reason Magazine

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    @#$% a judge's signature. They already disgracefully rubber-stamp everything that comes before them. This would have no effect.

    They should have to pass a referendum to use SWAT. Each and every time.

    :quirky


    Thundar wrote:
    It's time to have a national discussion on the wisdom of sending phalanxes of cops dressed like soldiers into private homes in search of nonviolent and consensual crimes.
    For the record:

    There is no wisdom to discuss.

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    Is not a judge's signature already required on a warrant? If that simple constitutional requirement can't be satisfied then, maybe, a referendum should be required. Unfortunately the law abides only the law abiding.


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    Campaign Veteran GLOCK21GB's Avatar
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    and this Surprises anyone ? You do know you live in a Totalitarian Police state, right ?!!
    http://youtu.be/xWgVGu3OR4U AACFI, Wisconsin / Minnesota Carry Certified. Action Pistol & Advanced Action pistol concepts + Urban Carbine course. When the entitlement Zombies begin looting, pillaging, raping, burning & killing..remember HEAD SHOTS it's the only way to kill a Zombie. Stockpile food & water now.

    Please support your local,county, state & Federal Law enforcement agencies, right ???

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    From Wisconsin but unfortunately not about Wisconsin

    http://www.jbs.org/jbs-news-feed/605...eveal-excesses

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    Thundar quoted:
    SNIP It's time to have a national discussion on the wisdom of sending phalanxes of cops dressed like soldiers into private homes in search of nonviolent and consensual crimes.
    Here, I'll fix it for readers. This will put the proper gravity on it:

    "Its time to have a national discussion on the wisdom of sending phalanxes of soldiers dressed like cops into private homes..."
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    Is it cop bashing to state I do not agree with the use of swat for misdemeanor violations?

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    kwikrnu wrote:
    Is it cop bashing to state I do not agree with the use of swat for misdemeanor violations?
    Not bashing, really. More like, "cop swatting." Entirely acceptable in present company.



    If you all get the chance, google Radley Balkos "Overkill" a white paper on SWAT, including their rise from LAPD, and their rocket-ride increase with the war on some drugs. Amazing stuff.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    kwikrnu wrote:
    Is it cop bashing to state I do not agree with the use of swat for misdemeanor violations?
    No. That would be a policy opinion--one with which I agree.

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    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    Those statistics are very disturbing ...
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

  12. #12
    Regular Member Deanimator's Avatar
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    deepdiver wrote:
    Those statistics are very disturbing ...
    Just [a very long series of] isolated incidents.
    --- Gun control: The theory that 110lb. women have the "right" to fistfight with 210lb. rapists.

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    Campaign Veteran marshaul's Avatar
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    kwikrnu wrote:
    Is it cop bashing to state I do not agree with the use of swat for misdemeanor violations?
    Nope, it doesn't turn into cop-bashing until you point out that the problem is widespread, even systematic.

    (:quirky)

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    Regular Member Old Grump's Avatar
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    Is Maryland safer and has the crime rate gone down now that hey have highly trained heavily armed people busting doors for minor penalties or have the bad guys learned to use their preoccupation with the unwashed masses to do the serious dirty deeds unwatched and unmolested?

    How often do you need a Swat team anyway? Last I heard most of the hostage situations happen in movies and TV shows.
    Roman Catholic, Life Member of American Legion, VFW, Wisconsin Libertarian party, Wi-FORCE, WGO, NRA, JPFO, GOA, SAF and CCRKBA

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