Militarization of Police

Maryland Senate Holds Hearings on SWAT Transparency Bill

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Last week, the Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held hearings on a new bill that would require every police agency in the state with a SWAT team to issue quarterly reports on how often the teams are deployed, why they were deployed, what happened during the warrant service, and what was found. It is a small but vital step toward allowing for a proper assessment of just how often paramilitary-style tactics are being used in Maryland, how often things go wrong, and whether they're being used as advertised.

Several witnesses at the hearing described yet more terrifying wrong-door raids, in cases never before reported.

Karen Thomas told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee that she heard Howard County police shoot and kill her dog in her Ellicott City living room in September 2007, while she lay upstairs on the floor, surrounded by police who had not identified themselves.

"In my mind, terrorists had just killed my son and they were going to kill me next," she told committee members.

Thomas said that police were searching for drugs, but none were found…

Choking back tears, Boyd Petit told committee members that during an April 2008 raid on his Highland home, a police tactical team had handcuffed him and his family outside his home, at gunpoint and in front of his neighbors, while other officers searched his house.

"Our collective lives flashed before our eyes," he said.

Petit claimed the raid on his house was prompted by a former customer, who made false allegations about him to police. He said police were searching for a specific weapon, but it was not found.

Right now, it looks like the bill will get through committee. It's being pushed by Cheye Calvo, the Berwyn Heights, Maryland mayor who was subjected to a particularly violent but mistaken raid on his home.

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  1. Makes you wonder when PETA will step up and start opposing SWAT raids…

  2. When enough sea kittens are killed.

  3. I don’t see how anyone could be opposed to this bill. These are public “servants” doing their job at taxpayer expense. The fact SWaT deployments aren’t already publicly tracked astonishes me.

    Besides, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Or so I’ve been told.

  4. if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    I pray that this line is being used to browbeat any opposition to this bill into a bloody pulp.

  5. It’s sad to say, but thank Zeus and Janus that one of these raid happened to an elected official, because nothing would have been done had Mayor Calvo not shed light on the raids…

  6. Besides, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear. Or so I’ve been told.
    ___________________________________________
    Just rem.
    First they came for the jews, and i was not afraid, for i am not a jew. then they came for the gays and i was not afraid for i am not gay. then they came for the catholics, and i was not afraid, for i am not a catholic. KNOCK KNOCK KNOC. Oh Shit, now they have come for me, why did i not help the others.

  7. When enough sea kittens are killed.

    Does PETA have anyone going after the Pope considering how many sea kittens are served up on Friday by good Catholics (non-papist Christians too?)?

    On-topic – it really would be heartening to see this go through, and hopefully other states will follow suit when they see what SWAT teams are deployed for and what results from it.

  8. Ska,

    Like the Catholic Church would care. They’re too busy excommunicating the mother of a raped 9 year-old who helped her get an abortion for a pregnancy that would have killed her to bring to term.

  9. We need more elected officials victimized by SWATs. Until the folks who “matter” are made to suffer, nobody with the power to fix it gives a damn.

  10. Why don’t they force the swat teams to video all raids? String em up if they get “lost”. Would make it harder for them to drop some cocaine next to grandma after they blow her away in a wrong-door no-knock raid.

  11. Choking back tears, Boyd Petit told committee members that during an April 2008 raid on his Highland home,

    The dude cried? In public? What a wuss. SWAT should have rolled over him with a tank.

  12. Matt – why stop at swat raids? Every cop in this country should have a video camera archiving everything they do on duty. Increase their pay as compensation – and increase the penalties for abusing their positions.

    We’ve got the technology. It really wouldn’t cost that much. I bet in volume you could do it for $200 per officer… Plus ongoing overhead.. you’d have to pay for the servers to store it on. But imagine at the end of each shift, they dock their badge and it sends the video back to the DOJ for archiving.

    Of course, then you have the problem of ‘losing’ one’s badge.

  13. Why don’t they force the swat teams to video all raids? String em up if they get “lost”. Would make it harder for them to drop some cocaine next to grandma after they blow her away in a wrong-door no-knock raid.

    That won’t happen until private citizens can conduct their own criminal prosecutions. Reform won’t happen until groups like the ACLU and Institute for Justice can criminally prosecute government officials instead of just suing.

  14. We need more elected officials victimized by SWATs.

    Given the competence of the SWAT teams mentioned in Radley’s articles, I’d say it’s just a matter of time.

  15. SWATs “being used as advertised.”

    This bill should require that each county or policing district that uses a SWAT will immediately post on their website the circumstances under which SWAT will be used.
    Then concerned citizens can engage in preemptive debate over these circumstances before another tragedy occurs.

  16. Of course, then you have the problem of ‘losing’ one’s badge.

    Or portable electromagnets become all the rage.

  17. ” Until the folks who “matter” are made to suffer, nobody with the power to fix it gives a damn.”

    Oh, I don’t know…

  18. Makes you wonder when PETA will step up and start opposing SWAT raids…

    PETA kills around 2,000 dogs under its care every year. They probably don’t care much about your municipality’s paramilitary poodle shooters.

  19. paramilitary poodle shooters

    Sweet. I’ve been looking for a derogatory name for SWAT teams.

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