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March 29th, 2010 | Author:

An ex-cop named  Schweinsburg wrote a letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun defending the swat team raid on Cheye Calvo’s house that resulted in the death of his two black labradors.  Radly Balko responded.  Here’s part of an excellent analysis:

If mistakes were made during the operation in Berwyn Heights, then those mistakes were no doubt identified and appropriate training and policy modifications put in place.

If Mr. Schweinsburg had read much at all on Calvo’s story before firing off his letter, he’d know that the most aggravating thing about the raid is that Prince George’s Officials—from County Executive Jack Johnson to Sheriff Michael Jackson—have stubbornly and shamelessly refused to admit that the police made a single mistake. The horrifying lesson to draw from that: It’s perfectly acceptable for the police to barge into a home of an innocent family without first doing any corroborating investigation, shoot and kill the family’s dogs, handcuff the home’s occupants for hours on end, lie about the circumstances leading up to, during, and after the raid, then refuse to turn over any information about the investigation and raid when the wrongly raided family requests to see it. No mistakes were identified because Jackson has determined none were made. No training and policy modifications will be put in place because Jackson doesn’t feel any are appropriate. This is why “micro-managing” SWAT teams is necessary. Because police and public officials have come to the mind-numbing conclusion that something as atrocious as the Calvo raid can occur . . . and yet still believe that no one made any mistakes.

For more reading, here’s an op-ed that Calvo wrote for the Washington Post that starts this way:

I remember thinking, as I kneeled at gunpoint with my hands bound on my living room floor, that there had been a terrible, terrible mistake.

An errant Prince George’s County SWAT team had just forced its way into our home, shot dead our two black Labradors, Payton and Chase, and started ransacking our belongings as part of what would become a four-hour ordeal.

The police found nothing, of course, to connect my family and me to a box of drugs that they had been tracking and had delivered to our front door. The community — of which I am mayor — rallied to our side. A FedEx driver and accomplice were arrested in a drug trafficking scheme. Ultimately, we were cleared of any wrongdoing, but not before the incident drew international outrage.

This was 14 months ago. We have since filed suit, and I am confident that we will find justice more quickly than most.

Yet, I remain captured by the broader implications of the incident. Namely, that my initial take was wrong: It was no accident but rather business as usual that brought the police to — and through — our front door.

In the words of Prince George’s County Sheriff Michael Jackson, whose deputies carried out the assault, “the guys did what they were supposed to do” — acknowledging, almost as an afterthought, that terrorizing innocent citizens in Prince George’s is standard fare. The only difference this time seems to be that the victim was a clean-cut white mayor with community support, resources and a story to tell the media.

Category: abuse of power, Cheye Calvo  | Comments off