Delegates adopted a bill, on a 126 to 9 vote, that would require law enforcement agencies to report every six months on their use of SWAT teams, including what kinds of warrants the teams serve and whether any animals are killed during raids. The bill was prompted by the case of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, whose two black Labrador retrievers were shot and killed during a botched raid by a Prince George's County Sheriff's Office SWAT team in July.
Calvo has said he was surprised to learn that police departments use the heavily armed units far more routinely than they once did but that it is difficult to get reliable statistics about SWAT raids. The Senate has passed a similar measure. [Washington Post]
The bill doesn’t actually reform anything, but it aims to create a record of how, when, and why SWAT teams are deployed in Maryland. This effort has the potential to reveal a great deal about the reckless over-reliance on aggressive drug raid tactics. That's exactly why police opposed it, despite utterly lacking any compelling arguments against such oversight.
Good work by Maryland's legislators and another big moment for Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, who has become a valiant champion of justice following the tragic killing of his two dogs during a botched drug raid last summer.