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SWAT roundup

In case you don’t read Radley Balko on a regular basis… which you should.

The Baltimore Sun reported on the use of SWAT in Maryland.

Heavily armed tactical police in Prince George’s County raid more homes than any other law enforcement agency in the state, according to newly released data from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

In the last six months of 2009, police there conducted 195 tactical entries, 105 involving crime deemed nonserious felonies and misdemeanors. That’s compared with 84 such raids in Baltimore

This was the subject of Radley’s crime column this week: 4.5 SWAT Raids Per Day: Maryland’s SWAT transparency bill produces its first disturbing results

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. […]

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.

The Baltimore Sun article also led to this:

Ex-Cop Chides Calvo for Questioning the Cops Who Nearly Killed Him

This is an excellent take-down by Radley of a real jerk who had an LTE in the Baltimore Sun this week. This ex-cop attempts to justify all the excess SWAT use and thinks that Cheye Calvo should support it!

Great bit at the end with Radley responding to the ex-cop:

Perhaps if Mayor Calvo had ever had to face such danger he would understand.

Schweinsburg saves his most callous, oblivious comment for last. Calvo has faced such danger. He faced it when a bunch of armed idiots stormed his house and indiscriminately fired off rounds into his Labradors. He thought he was being invaded. If he’d had a gun in his home for self protection, he’d almost certainly be dead. That the danger in Calvo’s instance came from incompetent cops instead of thuggish drug dealrs wouldn’t have made him any less dead. The utter tone-deafness of this line from Schweinsburg is appalling. How dare this mayor question the cops who nearly killed him. It suggests that all cops, no matter what they do, should be immune from public scrutiny. It’s similar to a letter in response to Calvo’s case from a Milwaukee cop that we saw in National Review a while back. No empathy whatsoever. You get the feeling they believe Calvo ought to thank the Prince George’s deputies for having the courtesy not to kill him.

Of course, when it comes to SWAT, any amount of violence is OK because it’s the “law” doing it, whereas something like having a little marijuana is considered “dangerous.”

In this case that Radley talked about last week, a SWAT team descended on a home, stormed it with guns, fired seven rounds at the family’s dogs as a seven-year old looked on, found a small amount of marijuana, and charged the parents with child endangerment.

So smoking pot = “child endangerment.” Storming a home with guns, then firing bullets into the family pets as a child looks on = necessary police procedures to ensure everyone’s safety.

Just so we’re clear.

It’s bad enough that SWAT seems to think they always have to shoot the dog.

I worked a job for a while that involved going house to house, often cutting across lawns and stumbling into the mean dog on a 20 foot chain right by the side of the house 2 feet away from me. I didn’t have a gun to shoot them, so I learned how to deal with them. There are specific, effective techniques (even if your police department can’t afford a tranq gun, because you spent all your money on tanks and black hoods) that can allow you to proceed without shooting the dog or getting bit. I was able to teach these techniques to minimum wage part-time delivery personnel, so I assume the smarter cops would be able to absorb the lesson as well.

As for this cop? … I don’t know.

A police officer trying to make an arrest at a Minneapolis home shot the neighbor’s dog.

The dog’s owners are angry and confused, but police officials say the officer acted responsibly.

William Knapp said his rottweiler/yellow lab mix Wilson was in his fenced yard, located in the 3200 block of Bryant Avenue N, Friday morning as police tried to arrest someone at at house next door.

Knapp said, “I heard my mom yelling, ‘They shot our dog they shot dog.'”

Knapp’s brother Allen said the dog did not try to attack the officer and wasn’t even barking when it was shot.

Neighbors backed up the Knapps’ version of events. But police said the dog was barking viciously and tried to jump the fence toward the officer.

And there was another case of wrong address drug raid, where a man and his father (who was in bed recovering from cancer treatment) found themselves at the point of a gun, forced to the floor and handcuffed. Police had the wrong half of a duplex. Neighbors now say that the police scraped off the “A” on the house number of one side of the duplex after they made the mistake in order to cover it up. Best line in the video is from the victim:

If the mailman can distinguish that this is two addresses, I’m pretty sure the police could, too.

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20 comments to SWAT roundup

  • kaptinemo

    You really have to wonder why, all of a sudden, it’s become police SOP to shoot penned animals.

    As to the matter of breeds, Rotts are smart, but not generally aggressive animals (I wish I had a video of a huge solid muscled, big-framed German-blooded Rotty I knew named Benjamin greeting a friendly neighborhood cat by using its’ fist-wide tongue and licking the cat’s face while the cat stood there, completely fearless of the dog; a shame Big Ben died a few months later.) And Labs? Big, dumb friendly lunks. They make childhood companions. Sounds like a perfect mix, to me…

    I wonder what howls of righteous indignation some cop would make if their dog was shot with such callousness.

  • someday we’ll get to the point where there are enough medical marijuana states that we’ll be able to start working on recreational use. then this won’t happen any more, right? oops.

  • Cliff

    “I wonder what howls of righteous indignation some cop would make if their dog was shot with such callousness.”

    We already know kap’n, the cop would give their dog a funereal with all the pomp and circumstance, full police escort and 21 gun salute in honor of thier fallen comrade. All on the taxpayer’s nickle of course.

    There would be much wailing of voices and howling and gnashing of teeth about how the thin blue line is protecting us from killers, rapists, robbers and mayhem of all sorts.

    Then they will go on a SWAT raid and dispatch some family’s beloved pet and think nothing of it.

    Oh yeah, whoever shot their dog will most certainly get charged with shooting a police officer, just like it was a human being, but when it is a family pet, no biggy.

  • kaptinemo

    OT: And so it begins…Dennis Kucinich is calling for a massive re-allocation of government funding to revitalize this country’s (crumbling) physical infrastructure and sew back up the torn social safety net.

    And that means, perforce, a reduction in spending for the DrugWar (which ol’ Dennis has been a vocal critic of for years).

    And yes, this lifelong Libber, while not agreeing with Dennis on many things, deeply respects his ballsy opposition to many major power blocs (like DrugWarriors) who’d probably like to see him have an ‘accident’ a la Paul Wellstone.

  • Just me

    Good lord I wish I could smoke a fat one …just once in a while. It would help take the edge off this ugly world we live in today. Whats scary…it could get worse.

  • DavesNotHere

    Radley Balko’s work this century ranks among the best of his profession, and this post is full of proof that we’ve let our police go way to far.

    Eugene Volokh has an interesting post today on a drug raid looking for khat. No dead dogs, or khat, but they did parade around an innocent, cuffed, scantily clothed Muslim woman for four hours. And they’ll get away with that also.

  • Paul

    “even if your police department can’t afford a tranq gun, because you spent all your money on tanks and black hoods”

    Yeah, the black hoods thing bothers me a lot. What is it that you’re doing that you’re afraid to show your face? Making enemies of the most bitter sort, I suppose. Whatever it is, you’re not really a police officer any more.

    “Ninja” sounds closer to the mark.

  • Chris

    I’m actually bookmarking this post instead of simply reading it.

  • aussidawg

    Paul, the black hoods have long been an issue for me as well. It sorta makes things seem backwards when the pigs wear the masks instead of the “criminals.” But of course when one does something that they know is wrong morally…they want to keep their identity hidden from everyone, right?

  • I think “ninja” is above their skill level. “Thug” comes to mind tho’… “testosterone junkie” as well…

  • Floating car

    …and they invariably look good too, so the viewer will think, “HOW could this sweet innocent-looking man be deceiving us?” Ah but we are not remembering that he is a mercenary,he gets paid BIG BUCKS to inflict this senseless and revolting carnage. These people have to be, or to have become, the most despicable, abhorrent and accursed creatures on planet earth, purchased by the same kind of mentality as that which had Jesus murdered. Those people obviously still rule.

  • denmark

    If you’re interested:
    http://stopthedrugwar.org/videos/swat

    I signed the petition last night.

  • ezrydn

    They like to be the big, hot-shot combatants. I’d like to see them in a real firefight where the opposition is shooting back with the same, if not larger, fire power. I’d bet a majority of SWAT officers would get their panties in a bunch.

  • Hope

    Thieves, thugs, robbers, sometimes murderers, bullies, and terroristic solder of fortune types, mercenaries, playing Ninja might be apt.

    They’ve stolen so much from Americans.

  • big buford

    Black uniforms with silver thunderbolts on the collar look real sharp as well. If it wasn’t the mayor that lost his dogs to gunfire would it have even made the news.

  • big buford

    Whoops I meant lightning bolts. In some states if you harm or fatally injure a police dog you are charged with first degree assault or murder. Check your local people’s republik to see what the dog law is. I’d love to see how many citizens equal one policeman but they won’t publish that. If a common person gets murdered it will be a blip on the news. If a cop gets murdered a dragnet, all points bulletin, roadblocks, wall to wall tv coverage will be the order of the day. Kinda like ‘Animal Farm’ isn’t it where some are more equal than others.

  • Good philosophy. I love it. Many thanks for posting

  • ted

    What a bunch of crying fags you are! Ha!

  • Tim

    Gee, “Ted” that was enlightening. Any more jokes before bedtime?