Editorial: Two Dogs Dead, a Family Traumatized, Another Day in the Drug War

David Borden, Executive Director

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David Borden
This newsletter has reported or opined on the issue of paramilitarization in policing many times. This week that outrage struck in my own figurative backyard. At 7:00pm Wednesday, in the tiny DC suburb of Berwyn Heights, a SWAT team from the Prince Georges County, Maryland, police department, stormed a home, killed two dogs, then handcuffed one of the homeowners and his mother-in-law on the floor for hours as the dogs' blood drained around them.

That homeowner happened to be the mayor of the town, a fact which has drawn a lot of attention to the incident. Unfortunately, as reckless as this police squad's actions were, and as tragic the outcome, it is by no means unique. One study has estimated the number of SWAT raids nationwide at about 40,000 per year, and the killing of both dogs and people has occurred many times. One mother and child who lost their dog to a SWAT team spoke out in an interview with one of our supporters two years ago.

The rationale for the home invasion was that a package of marijuana -- 32 pounds of it -- had been delivered to the home. What was mentioned in the reporting, though, but not reflected on, is that the package had actually been brought to the home by the police! The sequence of events is both revealing and nauseating. A drug dog in Arizona smelled marijuana inside a package at the post office, addressed to the mayor's wife. Police brought the package to Maryland, and disguised as postal workers delivered it the house. The box sat outside all day. When Mayor Calvo came home, he brought the box inside, placed it near the door, and went upstairs. The SWAT team then stormed the house, killed the dogs, and locked the people up.

There are plausible ways in which the family can have had nothing to do with the package, despite it having been mailed to them, and Calvo and his wife seem unlikely lawbreakers. Police have yet to file any charges. Still, suppose that someone living in the home is guilty. Would that justify the actions of the police?

Absolutely not. The idea that a man returning to his home and moving a package from his porch to his hallway, should trigger a SWAT raid, by a team that had literally been waiting in hiding to see him move the package, is criminally insane. They didn't wait for the package to go inside because of any tactical purpose. They waited because they wanted to use the action of bringing the package inside as evidence. They had literally all day to figure out some way of being able to search the home without murdering their dogs! They didn't even have to bring the package to the house -- they already had the address with which it had been marked. They could have simply called the individuals in for questioning, or conducted an ordinary search or arrest warrant, waited for Mayor Calvo or his wife to walk up and approach them on the street, almost anything other than what they did.

And as evidence goes, moving the package inside the doorway is worthless anyway, or should be. Would you bring a package that arrived in your mail inside, maybe even open it to see what it contains? Doing so would prove nothing about your knowledge of the contents. So even that weak rationale falls to pieces.

The town's police chief, Patrick Murphy, who was not involved in the raid or informed of it, had wise words to say in the aftermath: "You can't tell me the chief of police of a municipality wouldn't have been able to knock on the door of the mayor of that municipality, gain his confidence and enter the residence," he told the Washington Post. "It would not have been a necessity to shoot and kill this man's dogs." He really wishes the narcs had contacted him about it first, and the tragedy thereby prevented.

But while the fact that this was the mayor's house makes the action even more deranged, it would be a mistake to regard that as the reason not to use a SWAT team. The truth is that entering a home in that fashion is unnecessary, and therefore wrongful, almost all of the time. SWAT teams are meant for emergency or other high-intensity situations -- hostage situations and the like -- not routine drug enforcement. But even if there had been 200 pounds of marijuana, or 2,000 pounds, there would still be no excuse. Invading a home in this manner endangers people and animals and property, for no good reason, if there is any other way of dealing with the situation.

Two dogs dead, a family traumatized -- another day in the drug war.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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SWAT

The SWAT teams were invented for emergency and hostage situations and that was a good idea.

So does anyone know just how they became a force to be used in these home invasions ?

My opinion is they just didn't have enough to do. So to continue to keep these highly trained individuals from losing their jobs, they are being used in the drug war.

Could it be that they are just a little to gung ho !

understanding economic terrorism

Subject: understanding economic terrorism
Title: what happened to the diversity in America?

Let us look at a little known part in America, that has been used for some time, but little light has ever been shed on the subject. When we hear about it, we don’t give it a second thought but it’s time that we look at this sanctioned dirty part of America. To determine if this national program has been hijacked by the talibomb. They talk about hitting the skin head, the hate monger in the wallet to silence him and we think nothing of it, we find ourselves so disgusted with the hate monger we turn a blind eye. But if we really think of what this entails and who is making these decision and is their another side to the story? With their lies and propaganda we are suppose to believe that Thomas Edison stole the light bulb, isn’t that what the illegal drug users do? But when they are running the pot smokers broke, denying the basic science and facts that Americans are not genetically different than Canadians – in Canada there are 1200 people with medical necessity to smoke, in America there are less than 30. We need to find out who these people are that are running us broke sabotaging us at work, at school ,at home, emotionally socially ,physically and find out why they are making excuses for ignoring the will of the people stealing cars from the handicap, attacking scoliosis and cancer patients. Are you sure they are not using financial terrorism on the blacks to promote their racists’ agenda? On the heterosexuals to promote their gay agenda? if we turn a blind eye and accept the fact that they are free to use financial terrorism on the smoker, the beer drinker then we are giving up our freedom and handing it over to a secret organization to create misfortune and profit endlessly as they work to silence the Berkley subversive or the environmentalist who wants to bring us cheaper fuels. Although it’s easy to turn a blind eye when they admit they are going to use financial terrorism to sabotage the ex-convict or felon or in the case of Americas past, destroying all the buffalo and nature to bring the Indians to their knees. We have to look to see if we really want America to stand for what these terrorist decide. Do we really want to say it’s not how hard you work in America its whether or not you meet their approval? Case in point don’t try to tell me it’s not how hard an America works that he can never make a building safe for a smoker and non smoker to peacefully coexist, show me your science or show me your bible, I’m not going to give up our freedom to these terrorist. Whatever happened to the world famous gas light square Mick Jaeger (rolling stones) sang about, do you really believe that they were just bad money managers and all the immoral women just decided to join the 700 club? We need to put a stop to this type of financial terrorism waged against our citizens, even if we find some of them objectionable. For if we don’t you or me may be the next one who doesn’t fit their phony morality. We stand in the way of these terrorist seizing absolute tyrannical controls over us for their profit driven motives. They want to destroy our country our freedom, what our forefathers fought and died for, for their wallets. End financial terrorism once and for all, for disaster economics is no longer just for the individual as we saw in New Orleans, but what will you do if you are next. Read more in the book titled
ABOUT CHRISTIANS AND FREEDOM__ @Amazon.com

SWAT teams in County Polce Depts are unprofessional

The necessity for use of a SWAT is so low in ordinary circumstances that they have to look for situations.
In 2007, in Fairfax County VA, just across the river from this recent incident, A SWAT team surrounded the house of a local dentist being served a warrant who was being accused of illegal gambling.
The excited SWAT team members, trembling with anticipation at being called out of their barracks, all gussied up in their fine shiny boots and leather accessories and carrying automatic weapons, were fully ready for a day of shooting it up in Iraq or some other hot war zone. The problem was, this was a Washington DC suburb with a very low crime rate. The biggest crime around there is usually an indecent exposure.
One of the SWAT team, who was so aroused he could not contain himself, shot and killed the dentist when he made the sudden move of taking the warrant as it was being handed to him.

It is my belief that SWAT teams should be part of the state police and housed in their barracks, away from county and municipal police, and operating for a larger geographical area than a single local jurisdiction.

Proliferation and Seemingly Improper Use of SWAT Teams

As a conservative and ardent supporter of our Constitution and the rights that it guarantees U.S. citizens, I continue to be troubled by the proliferation of SWAT teams and their inappropriate use. This nation is witnessing an increasing number of incidents such as this one where investigating officers fail to consider whether the backgrounds of the suspects and/or the levels of crime in the suspects neighborhoods warrant the use of SWAT. While I am hesitant to encourage lawsuits, one seems appropriate in this case. By the way, law abiding citizens who are prepared to lawfully defend their themselves against criminal home invasions might react allot differently than the mayor (several have already!). We need to force our elected and appointed officials to reassess the need for so many SWAT teams and to develop appropriate SOPs and ROE for SWAT employment!

SWAT Shit

This country's law enforcement has become a menace to society; but it is the plan of this fascist government, brought greatly to light by the destruction of citizens' rights & freedoms via this diabolical Bush Regime. I am sickened to read about this particular tragedy, one of many happening around the country and the world. The US's international drug war is nothing more than an excuse to arm militant governments and set a foothold for the US's ultimate goal - world-wide military dominance. In this country, the excuse for such action is to protect citizens. But the true question is who is going to protect citizens from law enforcement agents filled with steroids and the power of their badges and weapons.

Police

Your right, maybe a good solution would be all law enforcement officers hanging up the guns and badges. What would be greater than a society of total chaos without fear of anything? Who needs police, whenever someone breaks in your home defend it yourself! If someone or multiple persons decide to rape or kill your wives and daughters, oh well, no police. If a gang of thugs wants to rob or kill you, why not, no police, no arrest, no jail, no fear, what would hold someone back?? People commit terible crimes now, and there are laws and consequences. No need for laws without, "law enforcement." I agree, all police actions are not perfect, but every job has faults. If an account, or lawyer (oh yeah!! no need for lawyers without police to initiate court proceedings), a banker, quits their jobs society will not collapse. Imagine if all law enforcement officers quit, and left the public to handle incidents on their own. That would be the true defenition of barbaric.

Where is PETA when you need them?

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals .... PETA.

Where is their outrage? Are they too busy throwing paint on fur coats to pay attention to true cruelty? *curious*

Naive

For you people who think this is a free country and that the constitution still matters: You are naive. Period.

SWAT

SWAT teams should generally be abandoned. Think Waco, Ruby Ridge etc... The more we allow the gvmt to ratchet up the war on drugs the more violent it will become. Full legalization (with regulation if need be) is the only tenable solution
to America's longest running war which contributes to our bankruptcy (moral and financial).

Scores of criminal whores in all wars!

There are scores of whores in all wars!

Sounds like standard operating procedure to me!

Home invading criminals, regardless of costume or pretense, intent on violating our rights, liberties, and freedoms, and, god forbid, shoots and/or kills a member of my family... my dog included... will get a cheer, not a tear, from me if they get killed during their next home invasion!

SWAT raids, for those unfamiliar with the tactic, are supposed to provide the best protection to both the occupant(s) and the policing agent(s). The tactic requires a Nazi 'blitz' like raid, when everyone is sleeping peacefully to have the maximum 'shocked shitless' effect, which makes controlling the situation and thus the safety of all parties involved easier. That's the working theory anyway.

But, that theory has as many bullet holes in it as the drug war has whores... no that's probably not possible... there are scores of whores in all wars!

police

Your right, maybe a good solution would be all law enforcement officers hanging up the guns and badges. What would be greater than a society of total chaos without fear of anything? Who needs police, whenever someone breaks in your home defend it yourself! If someone or multiple persons decide to rape or kill your wives and daughters, oh well, no police. If a gang of thugs wants to rob or kill you, why not, no police, no arrest, no jail, no fear, what would hold someone back?? People commit terrible crimes now, and there are laws and consequences. No need for laws without, "law enforcement." I agree, all police actions are not perfect, but every job has faults. If an account, or lawyer (oh yeah!! no need for lawyers without police to initiate court proceedings), a banker, quits their jobs society will not collapse. Imagine if all law enforcement officers quit, and left the public to handle incidents on their own. That would be the true defenition of barbaric.

what about the return address?

Did they do anything about the people sending the package? It's weird that they would go through all the trouble of disguising as post men, delivering the package, waiting for the guy to bring it in, and raiding the home, and they wouldn't even investigate the person who sent the package. If anything, that's where they should be investigating. I mean, there is no evidence that the person recieving the package even knows it's coming to them. If anyone wants, they can just mail a bag of weed to a nun and have her arrested.

swat

All of the officers in this case and the people responsible for it should be at least fired and lose all of their pensions (ie have their lives utterly destroyed), if not waterboarded and/or shot and left to bleed to death in the street - no questions asked.

When will this insanity end?

Maybe if everyone reading this would send a package like this to all those in charge of making these policy decisions we'd see some changes?

Pitiful Police Practices

Pitiful Police Practices

when the police are trained to see the average american as a potential threat or enemy

when marijuana is classified as a narcotic

even though Marijuna has 4o knonw medicinal qualities including helping people with aids have an appetitie; and preventing glaucoma;

when people get arrested for smoking herbs but have committed no crimes what time is it ?

It's Pitiful Police Practice time; where the criminals go free; and the law abiding citizens get their houses invaded and their pets or themselves; sorry to hear of the poor dentist;

maybe they though the warrant was a "gun wallet; doubtful.

Terrifying

Scary to think such scant probable cause can get a warrant and justify executing a search with these 'over-kill' invasive tactics. We ought to look for federal legislation banning 'over-kill' SWAT raids...."unless reasonably necessary".
In accounts like this one, and many others I have read about, the use of SWAT was "not reasonable or necessary".
It is a terror tactic, and it is a failure as a deterrent to MJ use.

PETA

PETA won't touch this, because arguing on behalf of "drug users" is not politically expedient when the majority of the people in this country will not put any actual thought into this issue and instead fall back on the "drugs are bad" rationale that has been beaten into them their entire lives.

Nonsense, the Mayer has been

Nonsense, the Mayer has been exonerated. The cops are positive they mayor was an innocent victim. PETA will probably been seen on this case before too long.

If intelligence were the rule

Instead of the exception, We would be educating our kids the right way instead of the lies we have all been told our whole lives about drugs . There are times and many uses for these drugs , all drugs
have been priced out of their true values becauce of the drug war and the FDA of course they had a good reason to start the FDA but as with the bird house in my back yard . It was really neat at first , but after they got moved in I noticed there was Shit everywhere and my family wasn`t safe from them trying to peck out our eye`s !! I took the bird house down . This Drug thing isn`t going to be so easy . Remember the biggest part of the Drug Warriors have been lied too their whole lives Too!!

Another swat at basic common sense

The court in the Province where I live has already ruled these kinds of actions are too dangerous to be allowed to continue.The cops,of course,ignore the ruling and continue to go about with business as usual.We are hoping that all such cases will be tossed out for cause but can only wait and see.There was a dog killed just last week when cops decided they had to make entry the one way that caused the shooting to result.They ignored other options and are,of course,defending their actions in spite of the evidence.

How many times have I...

heard this statement?, "if your not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about". This idiotic saying by sheeple is indicative of the mindset that enables this "drugwar" to go on...and on...and on...It stops when citizens grow a backbone...again.Is everybody fed up yet? Will it matter if we are?

New ONDCP statement

" If you smoke marijuana, you are responsible for the death of innocent pets all over this country".

Just plain WRONG!

I consider this whole SWAT raid thing to be absolutely atrocious as well as knowing it is patently unconstitutional. If you kill my dogs you have harmed me, emotionally, just as much as if you killed my human family members. Why do we the people allow these police departments to run amok with their SWAT divisions? Why do we the people just shrug it off -- the deaths of dogs and people, far too often innocent victims of wrong address raids -- especially when we all know (including those law enforcement agencies and police departments which authorize these raids) that 80% of Americans (all Americans, not just voters) want marijuana decriminalized, at the very least? The people of the municipalities where these wrongful deaths of people, and even dogs, happens should start suing the law enforcement agencies involved in a SWAT raid, whenever said raid is for any purpose other than a hostage situation and, especially when said raid results in the death of a person or family pet.

The REAL Terroristst Are American

When will the American people EVER realize that the real terrorist threat MOST likely to affect them directly comes not from radical Islam but rather agents of their very own government?

Trouble is, is that they are so dumbed-down and apathetic that they are more concerned about sports and celebrity gossip to do anything about it. This is one reason why the US is the laughingstock of the world---in addition to being hated as its policeman.

These SWAT teams that are deployed for unarmed, non-hostage situations with reckless abandon are alarming. At this rate, it will only be a matter of time before they will be routinely dispatched as backup for ordinary traffic-stops and then let's watch the fatalities rise like yeast in the flour.

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