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Cheye Calvo Comments on the Passage of SWAT Monitoring Legislation in Maryland

Submitted by smorgan on
Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo sent us his terrific statement in response to the new SWAT reporting law passed by the Maryland legislature:

"Although the botched raid of my home and killing of our dogs, Payton and Chase, have received considerable attention in the media, it is important to underscore that this bill is about much more than an isolated, high-profile mistake.  It is about a growing and troubling trend where law enforcement agencies are using SWAT teams to perform ordinary police work.  Prince George's County police acknowledges deploying SWAT teams between 400 and 700 a year -- that's twice a day -- and other counties in the state have said that they also deploy their special tactical units hundreds of times a year.  The hearings on these bills have brought to light numerous botched and ill-advised raids in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard, Montgomery, and Prince George's counties that also have had devastating effects on the lives of innocent people and undermined faith in law enforcement.  HB 1267 will shine this light, provide oversight, and demand accountability as a matter of course."

It's about time. No matter how many of these stories I cover, the scope of the problem continues to send shivers down my spine. Calvo's own story is troubling enough before one considers that there are so many more that follow a disturbingly similar plotline.

Calvo also comments on the fact that law-enforcement interests directly opposed his efforts to increase oversight and accountability:

"Although I applaud lawmakers for passing this bill over the objections of law enforcement, I was disappointed that state law enforcement groups decided to oppose this measure rather than embrace it as an opportunity to restore the public trust.  I remain especially concerned with the argument put forward that only law enforcement should police itself and that it is somehow inappropriate for elected leaders to legislate oversight and accountability.  I cannot disagree with this argument more.  As an elected officials, we must take full responsibility for the law enforcement departments that we fund and authorize, and we must hold our law enforcement officials to the highest standards and ideals.  I strongly support law enforcement and believe that so many of our officers are heroes.  However, it is perfectly consistent to support them, provide oversight, and demand accountability -- just as our constituents support, oversee, and demand accountability from us."

Well said. Still, I'm honestly appalled that such arguments even have to be raised. After everything that's happened, how dare they object to basic oversight? When law enforcement directly lobbies against accountability, that is just an affront to the public interest. It's outrageous and although the right result was reached, there remain serious questions to be asked about the agenda of those in law-enforcement who took a leadership role in opposing this bill.

With their hands stained in innocent blood, they arrogantly insist that we avert our eyes. Thanks to Cheye Calvo and Maryland's legislators, we'll do exactly the opposite. 

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