Monday, August 11, 2008

The Jack-Booted Thug(s) of the Week...

...are most assuredly the SWAT team officers from the Prince George's County, Maryland Police Department, with excellent assistance from the same county's Sheriff's Department, for executing an illegal (under Maryland law) "no-knock" raid on Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo's home, managing to shoot two Labrador retrievers in the process, one which was running away from the cops when it was shot in cold blood.

(Full disclosure: Mayor Calvo and I attended the same high school, graduating one or two years apart. I was acquainted with Calvo, but was never close friends with him, and have not seen or talked with him since I graduated from high school some twenty years ago.)

It seems that the judy-boys on the "tacti-cool" team were somehow intimidated by a family dog that was fleeing in fear from them, so they decided in the interests of officer safety to cut it down, without regard to injuring innocent neighbors or bystanders. More on said safety in a minute.

The officers had been apparently investigating a lead on a drug ring that was using delivery services to leave packages containing drugs on innocent peoples' doors, and then picking them up before the unsuspecting homeowners returned. Mayor Calvo's wife had retrieved the package from their doorstep, left there by an undercover officer after the cops had intercepted it from another suspect, and brought it into the house. Immediately following her re-entering the house, the boys in black came crashing in after her, in complete violation of Maryland law which forbids such "no-knock" raids. The officers apparently rushed just about everything, seemingly not performing any on-site surveillance, investigating who might own or occupy the house in question, or even notifying the local Berwyn Heights Police Department of their little scheme, in violation of a memo of understanding between the two departments designed to ensure - class? officer safety. (If I remember correctly and if Calvo still resides in the same house he did in high school, the home is literally one block over from the station house. Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick A. Murphy is quite right to be outraged, because "not knowing about the raid could have led his officers to fire upon the sheriff's SWAT team because its members were wearing street clothes, masks and carrying weapons as they approached the mayor's house.")

After dispatching the two family dogs and roughing up the family, which included handcuffing Calvo's elderly mother-in-law and forcing her to lie next to one of the dogs' bodies for some hours as well as harshly interrogating the mayor and his wife, the former while wearing only boxer shorts, the shock troops finally figured out they had innocent parties on their hands and subsequently left the family there to clean up the mess without so much as an apology. They still haven't received one, only a message from Police Chief Melvin C. High and Sheriff Michael A. Jackson that they are no longer suspects in the case.

It's certainly a Godsend that the SWAT boys acted as quickly as they did, because if Mayor Calvo and his wife really had been involved in the drug ring, they certainly could have managed to flush the thirty-two pounds of marijuana in the package down the toilet in the minute or so it would have taken to knock on the door and announce themselves, right? Lord knows taking ten minutes or so to run a records check on the occupants of the house would have been completely out of the question, as that might mean a infinitesimal chance that the entire case would slip through their tactical-gloved fingers. Case closed by 5 p.m. today, or innocent people and animals possibly being harmed. Hmmm, which to do?

Screw it, let's go!! Hooorah!!

Mayor Calvo has now asked the Justice Department to investigate the circumstances surrounding the botched raid, which in my opinion typifies the behavior of the Prince George's County Police. They have a long reputation of racism and police brutality which has manifested as recently as last month, when a person suspected of killing one of the county's police officers was strangled in his cell at the county jail in an area where only officers and jail guards had access to him. That case has been ruled a homicide and is still being "investigated", with no one being charged, fired or disciplined to date.

We'll see what Justice's investigation into the botched Maryland raid reveals, although I'm not holding out much hope for official accountability. When Minneapolis, Minnesota police officers had a wrong-house raid themselves several months ago, narrowly avoiding killing a Hmong immigrant family because of false informant information about drugs, information that wasn't checked out or verified in any way, not only was no one disciplined, the officers involved were actually given medals and commendations for "heroism" during the operation. They were rewarded with the bling because they came under fire from the father of the family, who had the unmitigated gall to shoot at the goons busting down his home's door in the middle of the night for what seemed to him no reason at all. (Interestingly, despite all of the gunfire from the Minneapolis SWAT officers, Vang Khang, the homeowner, was the only one who managed to hit someone in the debacle, slightly injuring three officers without sustaining any injuries to himself. Where's his medal?)


D. C. Russell said...

Please join the call for the resignation or removal of Sheriff Michael Jackson.

Sheriff's Office Contact List

Bike Bubba said...

Actually, delaying the action until a records check could be performed would have imperiled nothing, as the men in blue already had the package.

Sad. This is one of those times when having someone on the force with an IQ of greater than 100 might be really, really helpful.