Regular readers know that the rise of quasi-public "special operations groups" (SWAT teams) within the Granite State law enforcement community has caught our attention. In this prior post about a raid in Bristol, NH involving some 20 masked police officers, I mentioned two other recent events involving, what is in my opinion, an overwhelmingly excessive use of force given the circumstances. One happened in state– the Charlestown incident in which a man in a trailer was killed as a combined special operations group/ state police operation sought to arrest his son. The other I mentioned occured in Maryland where a SWAT team stormed a mayor’s home in search of drugs and ended up killing his dogs as they held him and his mother-in law prisoner in his own home.
Just like here in NH, albeit no HUMAN ended up dead, the actions by the overzealous paramilitary police squad have been deemed "justified." The following op-ed was found in the Concord Monitor. If you can read this, and not come away outraged, then, well, you’re probably a cop of some sort. Otherwise… oh never mind. Just read for yourself:
It’s sad, of course, that Cheye Calvo’s dogs were blown away, left for hours in two pools of blood on the floors of his living and dining rooms. It’s unfortunate, to be sure, that Calvo’s front door had to be burst open, that it was necessary to plant his mother-in-law on the floor, arms bound, a high-caliber weapon pointed at her head, or that his house had to be trashed, every drawer flipped over, his belongings strewn about. Tragic, really.
But no apology is necessary, you see. Even though Calvo and his wife were exonerated of any criminal act almost instantly after their house was raided in July, even though the officers had done next to zero investigative work before smashing into the Calvo house, "The guys did what they were supposed to do," Prince George’s (Md.) County Sheriff Michael Jackson says. "They had a legitimate court order to be there."
Never mind that the dozen or so officers from the county police and sheriff’s SWAT team didn’t have a warrant with them when they stormed Calvo’s house in Berwyn Heights, Md. Never mind that the authorities seem unaware that a 2005 Maryland law spells out exactly when "no-knock" raids are permitted.
No, an internal review concluded by the sheriff’s office last week has – surprise, surprise – cleared the officers of any wrongdoing, even though no investigator had spoken with Calvo, his wife or his mother-in-law. "Unfortunately, we had to engage the animals, but that engagement was justified," Jackson says.
The story of the raid on Calvo’s house – a 32-pound box of marijuana had been FedExed there, part of a drug dealer’s scheme to intercept the package before the innocent residents got home – was appalling enough when it first broke. But as we learn more about what happened, and as the authorities deflect questions, it becomes a much deeper scandal.
Click here to read the rest. Can you imagine if the victim hadn’t been the mayor? What if this had happened to a person apt to defend himself in a more aggressive manner– would he or she have ended up like the dogs? These stories need serious consideration as we further empower law enforcement beyond what has long been the norm here in these parts. It seems that in the absence of REAL threats requiring overwhelming force, some, chafing at the bit for some action, could end up just a wee bit too trigger happy than what’s good. But then again, if they never get called on the carpet and made to pay any consequences for ANY questionable actions (on or off duty), why would they even care? Why, I’ll bet some of ’em just KNOW they’re above the law…