Maryland House Passes SWAT Transparency Bill

This is good news.

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.

The Maryland Senate has already passed a similar bill, and there don’t seem to be any foreseeable problems merging the two.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    The bureaucrat's answer to any problem: A report.

  • Warty||

    For some reason, I'm reminded of the final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

  • ||

    Only 49 mayors more need to get their pets killed in order to restore some sanity to this country on the use of SWAT.

    Of course, I will want to see how this transparency thing works out. The glass in a window is plenty transparent, but you still can't see shit if a bunch of DARE pamphlets are glued all over the outside of the panes.

  • Reinmoose||

    and whether any animals are killed during raids

    Does that include people, too?

  • ||

    Only the guilty need fear.

  • Dello||

    Thanks for not ruining my weekend...on a Monday.

  • T||

    Only the guilty need fear.

    Yet SWAT teams don't seem to fear any consequences of their actions. Odd, isn't it?

  • ||

    Interesting to note that none of the hundreds of cases of civilian deaths, or animal executions by SWAT teams prompts any action - but raid the Mayor's house and some shit gets done....

  • Johnny Nowhere||

    Interesting to note typical that none of the hundreds of cases of civilian deaths, or animal executions by SWAT teams prompts any action - but raid the Mayor's house and some shit gets done....

    seems a little less naive this way

  • Johnny Nowhere||

    oops, no itals intended for that last line

  • creech||

    And does this bill require counties to post their SWAT team "rules of engagement" on a public website and hold a public hearing for comment on same? Using SWAT teams is inappropriate in so many situations requiring the arrest of non-violent alleged criminals.

  • Brandon||

    And does this bill require counties to post their SWAT team "rules of engagement" on a public website and hold a public hearing for comment on same? Using SWAT teams is inappropriate in so many situations requiring the arrest of non-violent alleged criminals.

    Baby steps. Might scare the fish away if you reel him in too soon.

  • No Name Guy||

    The long journey to accountability begins with one tiny step......

  • Ska||

    Yeah, I'll echo the two previous posters and say that at least it's a start. Next is to see what conclusions the readers of the report, as well as who those people are and what authority they have, come up with.

  • ||

    One down, 49 to go.

    The LEO establishment will fight this tooth and nail. Radly Balko readers know why.

  • ||

    Sorry for the typo in your name Radley.

  • ||

    Maryland? My Maryland? They must be talking about some other state with this name. We pass no sensible legislation in this state and dangburnit! we aren't going to let them uppity New York folks out-stupid us legislatively.

  • anon||

    Bunting down the third base line, Maryland scratches out a base hit.

    This should prove interesting. Although whats really preventing LEOs from just lying? I doubt they fear reprisal.

    Seriously, people should start setting up major politicians like Calvo was. When someone other than the cockroaches gets targeted, people pay attention.

    Cockhats.

    also: one week until baseball and my life regains purpose.

  • ||

    Interesting that an anonymous poster is telling us he or she likes baseball.

  • ||

    And, who were the 9 douchebags who did not vote for accountability?

  • Joel||

    I do think it's interesting that this "report" - (Raiders of the Lost Ark reference is quite appropriate, I fear) - will specify dead dogs/cats/hamsters but not dead or wounded humans.

    Between that and mayors, these pols have their priorities right in the dark warm place they're normally kept.

  • Dello||

    Joel,

    I'll give them credit (perhaps undeserved) that they already have to report when they shoot a person.

  • Craig||

    How about abolishing all of the county and city SWAT teams, and having just one state-level SWAT team that could be brought in for the handful of situations each year that actually justify using a military-style assault team?

  • Some Idiot||

    Glad this got passed. Also the washpost story (as often is the case) is incomplete. There will be reports of injured or killed people and whether firearms were discharged generally.

    See these links to read the bills

    http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/billfile/hb1267.htm

    and

    http://mlis.state.md.us/2009rs/billfile/sb0447.htm

  • hmm||

    Someone buy that body a round.

  • heh2k||

    So who's going to read these reports and what will be done with the information? This is shallow we-must-do-something! bill that will not change anything.

    Oh, and fuck all the state governments for ignoring peasant problems until they get victimized by their own thugs.

  • Elemenope||

    Just curious; who were the nine dickheads who voted against it, and what were they thinking?

  • ||

    Many dog lovers were hoping that "SWAT transparency" meant that the officers would dress only in Saran Wrap so that otherwise defenseless dogs could bite them in the nuts.

  • ||

    Thanks for posting this, Radley. I give you lots of hell because you deserve it, but this is a productive outcome to an embarrassing and ugly incident. Too bad more legislation was required to handle something that shouldn't be allowed by virtue of simple adherence to the intersection of personal liberty and police authority.

  • ||

    Asking PG County cops to report honestly on their SWAT raids is like asking...oh, crap, I can't come up with a decent simile. It's like asking a bunch of corrupt, lying thugs not to act like a bunch of corrupt, lying thugs.

    You remember the Sheriff's assessment of the Calvo incident, don't you? According to him, the cops did everything just right. And you can bet that's also what they'll say in every one of these six month incident reports. Granny's Pekingese goes "yap" and gets chased down the hall and machine-gunned - the report will read "attacked by vicious dog, officers' safety threatened, discharged weapons in self defense resulting in death of animal." Who does the Maryland legislature think it's kidding?

    OK, so maybe it's a small victory. But irate citizens and persistent news reporters need to stay on top of this. Otherwise the whole thing will be lost in the bureaucratic memory hole and Maryland's citizens will continue to be randomly terrorized by uniformed thugs. Please, keep an eye on this. Don't let them get away with ANYTHING.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement