Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Day the Police Came Crashing Through His Door

In the Washington Post, Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, MD, writes about his experience:
I remember thinking, as I kneeled at gunpoint with my hands bound on my living room floor, that there had been a terrible, terrible mistake.
In the words of Prince George's County Sheriff Michael Jackson, whose deputies carried out the assault, "the guys did what they were supposed to do" -- acknowledging, almost as an afterthought, that terrorizing innocent citizens in Prince George's is standard fare. The only difference this time seems to be that the victim was a clean-cut white mayor with community support, resources and a story to tell the media.

What confounds me is the unmitigated refusal of county leaders to challenge law enforcement and to demand better -- as if civil rights are somehow rendered secondary by the war on drugs.
As an imperfect elected official myself, I can understand a mistake -- even a terrible one. But a pattern and practice of police abuse treated with utter indifference rips at the fabric of our social compact and virtually guarantees more of the same.
You know what they say: a liberal is a conservative who's been raided (actually I just made that one up).

[from Peter Moskos's Cop in the Hood]


  1. Does that mean a liberal is a conservative who's been audited? That's not so bad though; we libertarians feel victimized by the law man and the tax man.

    Calvo's piece was very well done; it's a shame that, after decades of abuses with effectively no coverage, it takes a raid on a city mayor to get people to even pay attention to police militarization. Still though, it's good to see people starting to speak out like this, and hopefully more states will enact policies to encourage transparency like Maryland has done.

  2. Check out this website too:

    Originally created to deal with emergency or other very-high intensity situations (e.g. snipers, hostages, barricaded suspects), SWAT teams were deployed on fewer than 3,000 occasions in all of 1980. Today, SWAT teams conduct raids more than 50,000 times per year, mostly while doing low-level drug enforcement. This is dangerous, hurtful and wrong.

  3. Thanks for these comments. I am writing an article about using the military to enforce drug prohibition... my hope is to publish it in the next few months.


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