Militarization of Police

Cheye Calvo Speaks

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Yesterday, I spoke on a Cato Institute panel about no-knock police raids, along with Peter Christ of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Cheye Calvo, the Berwyn Heights, Maryland mayor who last July was the victim of a violent, mistaken drug raid by police in Maryland's Prince George's County.

I was really impressed with Mayor Calvo.  His account of the raid had several people in the audience in tears.  He was also able to step back a bit and see what happened to him in the proper context.  He explained that he recognizes that his status, comparative wealth, and position in the community allowed him to defend himself against the police department in ways most victims of these tactics can't.

Video of the event should be up in a few days, but in the meantime, you can listen to Calvo recount the details of the raid in a podcast he recorded yesterday for Cato.

NEXT: True Temperance

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  1. If it’s possible to be a cynic, skeptic and optimist at the same time, I am beginning to think that the War on Drugs Sanity has pretty much peaked.

    I could be wrong, after all entrenched interests and an ill-informed populace still exist. Still, I get these vibes …

  2. Follow the money. There’s a LOT of it in drug prohibition, and there’s sure not much in freedom & leaving peaceful people the fuck alone. Hence the logic-defiance we see these days.

  3. I thought it had peaked in 1970. 🙁

  4. Mayor Calvo believes that Prince Georges County has used their SWAT for hundreds of raids in the last year. Hundreds, in one county! He cited a “culture of coverup” that leads to more and lasting mistakes. Balko had an excellent idea – require SWAT to video every raid so it becomes obvious if there was gunfire, knock and announce, etc. Bottom line, grassroots efforts are needed all over the country to reform SWAT tactics before the next tragedy occurs.

  5. I was really impressed with Mayor Calvo. His account of the raid had several people in the audience in tears. He was also able to step back a bit and see what happened to him in the proper context. He explained that he recognizes that his status, comparative wealth, and position in the community allowed him to defend himself against the police department in ways most victims of these tactics can’t.

    So does that mean that he will now expend what power an influence he has towards putting an end to no-knock raids, slashing the budgets of SWAT teams, and making investigation of law enforcement a priority?

  6. I’m watching season 6 of The Shield right now and every time I see one of these stories I go “the fucking Strike Team is real, except that instead of Vic, Ronnie, and Shane (poor Lem) you have people just as violent and corrupt but stupider”.

  7. From what I’ve seen of US military helmet-cams, all or pretty-much all suspected terrorists in Iraq or Afghanistan DO get videotaped no-knock raids, unlike US citizen-units such as Calvo. Hmmmm….

  8. JMR,

    I fear the “new professionalism” in police ranks will do everything they can to stop videotaped SWAT raids. The helmet-cams could get in the way after all and jeopardize the officers lives! But maybe I’m just cynical.

  9. Epi, imagine Shane running the Strike Team. I have a feeling most SWAT teams are like this.

  10. When is one of those professional television journalists useless douchebags like Keith Olberman or Anderson Cooper going to have an in depth interview with Mayor Calvo in prime time?

  11. Epi, imagine Shane running the Strike Team

    Bags, I think that would be an improvement over the reality. At least Shane has some self-control and a few scruples.

  12. I was really impressed with Mayor Calvo. His account of the raid had several people in the audience in tears.

    See? Politicians can be useful after all. They just need to be kept in their proper place.

    In all seriousness, Calvo sounds like a particularly un-douchebaggy form of pol, so good on him.

  13. J sub D ,

    The only way the drug war has peaked is if something outside the mainstream republicrats gets involved.

    The war on drugs is a big stream of revenues for:

    1 Drug Cartels(high prices)
    2 Prison industry(private and public)
    3 DEA/CIA/FBI/ATF/State and local police and ther respective unions
    4 Military and military contractors(plan columbia etc)
    5 Lawyers and Judges across the country
    6 Alcohol Caffeine and Tobacco companies
    7 Religous nutjobs who wish to legislate morality

    These 7 entities spend a lot of money on lobbiest and have many of their own in the house and senate

    However, the most important group in favor of continuing the drug war are those powerful people who continually attack individual rights through any possible justification in order to centralize power because of their uncontrollable desire to win that power and rule over their fellow humans.

  14. So Vince Young freaked his mom out Monday night when he left his house upset and without his cellphone. His mom called Coach Fisher and he called the police.

    Young was finally contacted and met with Coach Fisher, a psychologist, and the Metro SWAT Team at the Titans’ practice facility.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…Mission Creep.

  15. 8. MEDIA & TV FOLKS WHO USE THE DEATH & DANGER AS TOUCHPOINTS FOR THEIR OVERSIMPLIFIED 1 HR dramas.

  16. P Brooks,
    The question is not when, the question is why won’t Olberman or AC360 interview this guy?

    Does anyone know what the position of members of the CFR is on the drug war?…uh they think the drug war is a prime example of why we need to have more global governence. They tend not to like to undermine their arguments for more global governence.

  17. Gabe,

    Big pharmaceutical companies get a nice shot in the arm (pun intended) from prohibition as well. God forbid allowing people to grow their own medicine.

  18. gabe,
    You forgot the entire drug testing industry as well as the “must see doctor for prescription” scam.

  19. In all seriousness, Calvo sounds like a particularly un-douchebaggy form of pol, so good on him.

    Well, that’s most likely because he’s a part-time mayor and so is about as small a political fish as you can get.

    If a big fish got raided, it would be different. But big fish don’t get raided simply because they are big fish.

  20. Dagny T.

    particularly un-douchebaggy form of pol,…THE HIGHEST PRAISE POSSIBLE for a politician…he doesn’t suck real bad…

  21. Smash the CPD and ask McCain the hypocrite question on national tv and we could unwind this drug war a lot quicker.

  22. Does anyone know what the position of members of the CFR is on the drug war?

    Get off your conspiracy kick. The CFR is composed of *individuals*, each of whom has individual opinions on the drug war. Milton Friedman was a <gasp> mamber, and he was against the drug war.

  23. Well, that’s most likely because he’s a part-time mayor and so is about as small a political fish as you can get.

    I’ll take modestly encouraging news on the WOD where I can get it.

    THE HIGHEST PRAISE POSSIBLE for a politician…he doesn’t suck real bad…

    Yes. The politician who sucks the least deserves some credit. Like, maybe they get a cookie.

  24. I would argue that Ron Paul, for example, may have his down sides, but he does not suck overall at all.

  25. I’ll take modestly encouraging news on the WOD where I can get it.

    You have a point. I’m so cynical about it I failed to see that.

  26. I’m so cynical about it I failed to see that.

    I’m saving that level of cynicism for my thirties. Wait, does consciously delaying cynicism result in some kind of meta-cynicism?

  27. Brandybuck,

    Obviously there are individuals at the CFR. It is obviously a powerful policy forming group. If you need evidence of this I’ll be happy to provide some. They have hundreds of papers, books and articles making policy recomendations on their website and not a single one of them recomends stopping the international war on drugs, not a single one of them mentions the reasons outlined by me and others why we have a drug war. Instead they all make the assumption that taxpayer spending on this should continue to increase(whether it be in a more socialized health care state way or police state way is the only disagreement among the “individuals”.

    Yet they have dozens of papers mentioning the war on drugs as one of their 4 big reasons(drugs, climate change, terror, tax harmonization) to increase the power of institutions that can “provide global governence”.

  28. Besides Friedman always kowtowed to the Fed so they kept him close by.

  29. Wait, does consciously delaying cynicism result in some kind of meta-cynicism?

    I don’t know, I never delayed.

  30. HAMSTERDAM!

    Bunny Colvin, America needs you.

  31. Maybe the mayor is the forerunner of a coalition of leaders that will speak out against the drug war…after all, Peter Christ is the co-founder of LEAP and really, did we ever see that one coming? A coalition of criminal justice folks who advocate drug legalization…and speak out about it every day.

  32. The Mayor’s account had people in tears? Maybe you should hang with a little tougher crowd.

  33. A SWAT team member from Milwaukee criticized Reason and National Review, calling the Calvo raping “sound police tactics”, and defending “no knock” assaults by the police. Indeed, even in Nazi Germany and the old Soviet Union, the Gestapo and NKVD/KGB had innocent people fearing the “knock on the door” The Gestapo muct be looking with jealousy at the totalitarian mentality of SWAT teams- who do not even feel obliged to knock on the door.The freedoms that have traditionally defined American greatness are viewed with utter contempt by “law enforcement”. They have even bragged to me that they can kill my dog whenever they wish. The assault on the innocent Cuban American family of Elian Gonzalez is a clear view of a SWAT team at work. Like the police that threatened to kill my dog, they feel they are an elite who are exempt from the laws that apply to average Americans They can issue terroristic threats and laugh at us, unlike citizens who would be charged and jailed for doing the same thing. One more thing on the Calvo case- did the police send the drugs to his house in order to set him up and justify their terrorizing him? These terrorists masquerading as law enforcement need to be confronted by armed citizenry when they break into a home to kill dogs and terrorize innocent people. THAT is why the founders gave us the Second Amendment. Noel D. Collis M.D. 136 Golf View Drive Albany, Minn.

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