Civil Liberties

He Wants To Be Starting Something


Prince George's County, Maryland Sheriff Michael Jackson formally announced his candidacy for county executive this week. I wrote about Jackson's political ambitions last October. Jackson is the sheriff who oversaw the violent botched drug raid on Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo, and while he has apologized to the mayor for wrongly raiding him, Jackson has refused to discipline any of the officers involved (in fact, he has praised them), and said if his department had to do the raid over again, he wouldn't change a thing. Jackson is also trying to delay the release of his department's internal investigation of the raid until after the election.

Jackson's nothing if not consistent. Last September, in a lawsuit stemming from another botched raid, a federal jury found that the protocols governing police raids in Jackson's department are unconstitutional. A year after that raid, Jackson's deputies again raided the wrong home, and this time—as they did with Calvo—they killed the innocent family's pet. Again, no officers were disciplined. And the department didn't change any of its rules or procedures.

Earlier this month, one of Jackson's deputies was arrested by Prince George's County police for suspected drunken driving. The deputy failed a roadside sobriety test, but wasn't given a blood or alcohol test, nor was he criminally charged. Instead, he was turned over to Jackson's department for an internal affairs investigation. Three weeks later, the deputy remains on the job, and Jackson won't comment about the status of the investigation.

In announcing his candidacy this week Jackson touted his "executive-level experience." I guess it's true that he does have that experience. It's what he's done with it that's the problem.

When asked by the Washington Post about the incidents above, Jackson replied, "How would it look for me, the leader of an agency, to not give my people the benefit of the doubt?"