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 countyâ€™s SWAT deployments were for misdemeanors and nonserious felonies. That means more than 100 times last year Prince Georgeâ€™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:
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 heâ€™d had a gun in his home for self protection, heâ€™d almost certainly be dead. That the danger in Calvoâ€™s instance came from incompetent cops instead of thuggish drug dealrs wouldnâ€™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. Itâ€™s similar to a letter in response to Calvoâ€™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 Georgeâ€™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 = â€œchild endangerment.â€ Storming a home with guns, then firing bullets into the family pets as a child looks on = necessary police procedures to ensure everyoneâ€™s safety.
Just so weâ€™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.