Police raid mayor's house, shoot dogs, recommend land war in Asia.
August 7, 2008 6:11 PM   Subscribe

A SWAT team in Maryland raids a city's mayor's house and kills his dogs. Oh, and the warrant was wrong.
posted by Optimus Chyme (117 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jesus. That's some investigatin'.

Lucky it didn't turn out far worse.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:17 PM on August 7, 2008


This seems especially apropos given that I'm 34 episodes into an epic "The Wire" marathon.
posted by skammer at 6:17 PM on August 7, 2008


Awesome! Go, PG County! Go!
posted by Electrius at 6:18 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Extended coverage of this story on CNN, yet somehow they can't be bothered when cops are using uneccessary deadly force on humans.
posted by Zambrano at 6:20 PM on August 7, 2008 [5 favorites]


Yes, accidental paramilitary home invasions with concomitant fatal pet dog shootings will happen from time to time, but that plant has got to be stopped.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 6:21 PM on August 7, 2008 [32 favorites]


Related (and previously featured on the Blue): interactive map of botched paramilitary police raids.
posted by Makoto at 6:23 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Someone's going to get a vacation-with-pay over this.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:25 PM on August 7, 2008 [17 favorites]


And the cops took the time to handcuff him and his elderly mother-in-law next to the bloody corpses of his dogs, and interrogate him for several hours, yet in all that time failed to present a warrant. The police signed, under oath, papers saying they had, but in fact only several days later did they show up with the warrant.

Which, of course, wasn't a no-knock warrant, whoops.

But the police are adamant -- they have nothing to apologize for, and won't apologize.

Even though it turns out that the package of marijuana they had tracked across the country, while addressed to the mayor's wife, was actually arranged for by the delivery guy. In fact,he'd arranged for a number of packages of marijuana, addressed to various customers along his route.

But the police didn't manage to figure that out until after the SWAT raid and dog killing.

Which means this same no-knock guns blazing mis-applied warrant fuck up, you're in handcuffs and your dogs (or spouse, or kids) are dead, could have happened to any one of us.

Feeling safer, anyone?
posted by orthogonality at 6:26 PM on August 7, 2008 [76 favorites]


Zambrano wrote: Extended coverage of this story on CNN, yet somehow they can't be bothered when cops are using uneccessary deadly force on humans.

There are a lot of people who are far more concerned with the treatment of pets than they are other human beings. I've never understood it, but I know a lot of people who are that way.
posted by wierdo at 6:27 PM on August 7, 2008


This doesn't even make sense on a stupid level.

The cops shot one of the dogs as it was running into a back room. How threaten could they possibly have been by a fleeing dog?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:28 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sgt. Mario Ellis, a Sheriff's Office spokesman, said the deputies who entered Calvo's home "apparently felt threatened" by the dogs.

"We're not in the habit of going to homes and shooting peoples' dogs," Ellis said. "If we were, there would be a lot more dead dogs around the county."


Well, THANK YOU sir.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 PM on August 7, 2008 [17 favorites]


How threaten could they possibly have been by a fleeing dog?

If you've ever stood downwind of my dog after she eats from the compost heap, you wouldn't need to ask that question.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:31 PM on August 7, 2008


Foci for Analysis writes "The cops shot one of the dogs as it was running into a back room. How threaten could they possibly have been by a fleeing dog?"

Steroids and knowing that no prosecutor will prosecute you is a hell of a combination.
posted by orthogonality at 6:31 PM on August 7, 2008 [11 favorites]


I think the Prince George S.W.A.T. program just had it's funding severly cut in next year's budget...
posted by nudar at 6:32 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh my God! This can happen to white people!
posted by mr_roboto at 6:32 PM on August 7, 2008 [13 favorites]


But the dogs were black, so I guess that makes sense.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:33 PM on August 7, 2008 [10 favorites]


Yeah, that's the quote that got me too, Brandon. There's kind of a wistful feeling to it, a sort of if only longing: if there were more dead dogs around the county, then we'd be protecting Prince Georges from - from - dogs! Yeah! Pot smoking hippie dogs! Shoot them all.

Sweet weeping jesus on a pogostick.
posted by mygothlaundry at 6:33 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Zambrano, etc: My theory is that lots of people (possibly most people) will assume that if someone is shot by the police, or punished by authority in any way, they had it coming. If they appeared to lead a blameless, saintly life, it just shows how evilly devious they must have been to have concealed whatever wrongdoing they were justly punished for. But it's harder for people to make this mental rewrite with pets, especially a friendly breed like Labs. And so an event like this one makes a better illustration of the capricious injustice of the police raid, and so it makes a better news story.
posted by hattifattener at 6:34 PM on August 7, 2008 [13 favorites]


I've been following this on BB today, and it produced the expected number of "cops suck" comments.

Is it possible that, here on MeFi, we can keep this focused on the event in question and avoid generalizing to every police officer in every department?
posted by HuronBob at 6:37 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Is it possible that, here on MeFi, we can keep this focused on the event in question and avoid generalizing to every police officer in every department?

I don't think this has anything to do with individual police officers per se. Events like this are a result of stupid policy and stupid laws. The paramilitary stance of modern American police departments is simply baffling, but excessive use of force is certainly a matter of widespread police policy, not the decisions of a few bad officers.

So I think it is fair to generalize to every police officer in every department, but only to the extent that drug laws coupled with paramilitary equipment and training force officers to act like idiots.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:41 PM on August 7, 2008 [17 favorites]


Probably not, HuronBob. But I'm with you.
posted by spicynuts at 6:43 PM on August 7, 2008


This sort of no-knock warrant bullshit is why I support decriminalization - as far as I can see, the only progress made in the war on drugs is erosion of Fourth Amendment rights and gratification of the more authoritarian sectors of our law enforcement.
posted by Oxydude at 6:45 PM on August 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


It's a bad week to be a Labrador.
posted by william_boot at 6:45 PM on August 7, 2008


Agreed that bruatality against pets is not even in the same ballpark as brutality against humans.

At the same time, it freaks me right the hell out that, if a bunch of cops get an an address wrong and decide to raid our apartment, it's entirely possible that they'd shoot our dog as a precautionary measure.

I'm pretty sure they wouldn't shoot -me- as a precautionary measure. I mean, egad, the paperwork-- but my dog? Who would almost definitely start barking up a storm under such circumstances? Her I worry about. I just hope she'd have the sense to hide, as she does whenever we break out the vacuum cleaner.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:49 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


So where can I buy a door that will resist SWAT teams, but not firemen? It would need to be a steel door set in a steel frame, with an electronic latch and a microphone to detect sirens.
posted by ryanrs at 6:53 PM on August 7, 2008 [6 favorites]


HuronBob writes "Is it possible that, here on MeFi, we can keep this focused on the event in question and avoid generalizing to every police officer in every department?"

You seem to be under the impression that this isn't a systemic problem, tacitly encouraged by politicians who need a perennial bogeyman to "fight", and exacerbated by asset forfeiture laws and for-profit prisons that make excessive zeal and excessive force profitable for all involved.

I wish this were as simple a one or two "bad cops", because one or two bad cops could be prosecuted and removed fromthe policeforce.

But in fact we have a system that takes young idealistic helpful cops and makes them into cogs in this engine of brutality and remorselessness, wearing them down until they don't care about warrants or family pets or civil rights or anything beyond surviving to pensioned retirement. (If you hear in this description an echo of the public school system, consider that similar forces are at work there.)
posted by orthogonality at 6:54 PM on August 7, 2008 [40 favorites]


I'm pretty sure they wouldn't shoot -me- as a precautionary measure.

But they might give your mother-in-law a heart attack, or maybe taser you kids. As a precautionary measure, of course.
posted by ryanrs at 6:57 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is horrifying.

I think one good thing will come out of it, though. Now that someone in/with power has had this happen to them, perhaps we'll start seeing a change?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:59 PM on August 7, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy writes "Now that someone in/with power has had this happen to them, perhaps we'll start seeing a change?"

What, are you a soft-on-drugs hippie commie? We have to think of the children!
posted by orthogonality at 7:01 PM on August 7, 2008


So where can I buy a door that will resist SWAT teams, but not firemen? It would need to be a steel door set in a steel frame, with an electronic latch and a microphone to detect sirens.
posted by ryanrs at 6:53 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


Just make the doorway narrow enough so that they can't fit their huge brass balls through it.
posted by basicchannel at 7:04 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Brass balls? These guys are nothing but thugs dressed in ballistic nylon and qualified immunity. Cowards.
posted by ryanrs at 7:14 PM on August 7, 2008 [7 favorites]


Incidentally, while this happened in a white-majority town in PG County, the county is a majority black with an older, majority white police force widely seen as racist.

The last several times dogs came up in the context of PG cops, it was because officers were letting their police dogs maul homeless people and black suspects.

But even as the county's police force has become more integrated, and come under a black political leadership, it hasn't gotten any better:
...Prince George's County, where the police force killed more people during the past decade than any police force in America, and where no officer during that time has been fired or demoted for shooting somebody, the police department is 41 percent African American.
posted by orthogonality at 7:20 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Labrador retrievers? They might lick the cops to death.
posted by netbros at 7:22 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


The upsetting thing about brutality toward pets is that there is no recourse. The law treats pets as property, whereas most pet owners think of them more like family members. So while I'd rather lose thousands of dollars worth of property than have my dog killed, the most I can collect in court is his $200 adoption fee, which won't hurt the bastard who killed him one bit. And I think the bastards know this, and target pets for that reason. It's a way to really hurt someone without any legal difficulty.

So yes, it would be more upsetting if the cops wrongfully shot a person, but then at least there'd be a decent chance of real punishment. Not that I am not hoping for some severe punishment in this case. Not surprised it was PG county, either.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 7:23 PM on August 7, 2008 [9 favorites]


So where can I buy a door that will resist SWAT teams, but not firemen?

I think, unfortunately, that they would see that sort of action as 'proving' you've got something to hide.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:24 PM on August 7, 2008


the most I can collect in court is his $200 adoption fee, which won't hurt the bastard who killed him one bit

You wouldn't be able to sue for pain and distress? Perhaps tacked on to a bigger suit, alleging things like illegal search and seizure (wrong perp, which it looks like they should have known), lack of warrant, etc etc?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:26 PM on August 7, 2008


If they really didn't bother to find out who may have been on the other side of that door before knocking it down it sounds like pretty shitty police work.
Pistol packing crips? Russian mobsters with an M60? Yakuza assassins with swords and hatchets? Little old lady baking cookies?
Ah what the hell, let's go boys!
posted by 2sheets at 7:26 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Now that someone in/with power has had this happen to them, perhaps we'll start seeing a change?

Mayor of Maryland town (Population in 2000: 2942) ≠ Power

This guy will have to go through the same legal bureaucratic bullshit like the rest of us.
posted by clearly at 7:32 PM on August 7, 2008


orthogonality: You seem to be under the impression that this isn't a systemic problem

Not only is this not really about cops, you're also not thinking big enough. This is less about a systemic problem with police (though that's a relevant topic) and more about just overall incompetence, which you'll find EVERYWHERE. People fuck stuff up day in and day out all across God's own green. It's just that the fuckups are a lot more tragic when they involve someone carrying a gun.
posted by dhammond at 7:35 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mr Bunnsy: And I think the bastards know this, and target pets for that reason. It's a way to really hurt someone without any legal difficulty.

Wouldn't surprise me. On a side note, I have my doubts that this is an accident - I don't think cops usually roll into rich neighborhoods to arrest locally well-known political figures over something fairly minor like pot. It causes too much political enmity, too much public sympathy, and is too dangerous from a legal standpoint. Can you imagine the future lawsuit here?

I think the cops had a bone to pick with the mayor and used this excuse to get their message across. Look at the other incidents listed above - I bet we're dealing with some very, very dirty cops here.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:35 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


If they really didn't bother to find out who may have been on the other side of that door before knocking it down it sounds like pretty shitty police work.

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that granting expanded powers to enforcement agencies tends to lend itself not only to abuse but also to serious inaccuracy. If you don't have to work to back up your suspicions by building a real case, suddenly some real incentives designed not only to protect people but encourage accuracy and thoroughness in investigation are gone. Some people will do the right thing in the absence of those incentives anyway, but some people -- maybe even otherwise good people -- will just do their job at the level the system lets them.

Look at how accurate broad powers to detain and declare people "enemy combatants" has made our federal and military agencies.

Getting good results is never as simple as "pulling out all the stops" and "no more Mr. Nice Guy." But for some reason, a lot of us tend to treat it that way whenever the political discussion rolls on over to the idea of "getting tough on crime."
posted by weston at 7:40 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't think cops usually roll into rich neighborhoods to arrest locally well-known political figures over something fairly minor like pot.

Well it was about $150,000 worth of pot.
posted by Tenuki at 7:41 PM on August 7, 2008


It'd certainly make a great photo-op and press story if you did bust a mayor for getting 30 pounds of pot delivered to his house, and I'm sure that was the thought process. I've seen Super Troopers, I know how these people think.
posted by jeffkramer at 7:43 PM on August 7, 2008


Is it possible that, here on MeFi, we can keep this focused on the event in question and avoid generalizing to every police officer in every department?

No, actually, focusing on this specific event misses the point completely. Every time one of these fuckups happen the police call it an "isolated incident". They are not isolated incidents. The militarization of police forces is a widespread and pernicious problem, and your call to ignore that is nothing but special pleading on behalf of police officers.

If you or I fucked up in the way that police regularly and routinely fuck up we would be dead or in jail. This isn't theoretical. It happens. Which is not to excuse the use of thuggish military style raids even if they manage to get the right target and NOT shoot unarmed women and children.

The people most invested in keeping us focused on the "isolated incidents" are the cops who like feeling like soldiers going through the breach wearing flak jackets, kevlar helmets, and carrying assault rifles or semiautomatic shotguns.

This is not an isolated incident. It is a problem with cops in general around the country. Even the ones who do not go on these raids are generally supportive of the ones who do.
posted by Justinian at 7:43 PM on August 7, 2008 [15 favorites]


You know, it's one thing when you just tase a dog a few times and then club it to death, but outright shooting allegedly unarmed canines like that just seems wrong.
posted by uosuaq at 7:54 PM on August 7, 2008


dhammond writes "It's just that the fuckups are a lot more tragic when they involve someone carrying a gun."

It's only a fuckup if you mean to do right.

Given the laxity of the investigation and the macho bad-ass recklessness of the raid and the police not following the warrant and then writing under oath that they did, I don't see this as a "fuckup". I see this as callousness at best, but more probably cowboys run wild, and possibly corruption as Mitrovarr suggests.
posted by orthogonality at 7:56 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it possible that, here on MeFi, we can keep this focused on the event in question and avoid generalizing to every police officer in every department?

You're right. It's not every cop in every department. But neither is it just a few "isolated" screw-ups. Cops have powers we don't and yes, power does corrupt. I used to have neighbour who was a cop. The deepest thought I ever got out of the guy (after a few drinks) was the notion that as long as the ratio of cops killing innocent people versus cops being killed on the job is 1:1, then the system is working. We never discussed how this would apply to dogs.
posted by philip-random at 7:58 PM on August 7, 2008


I think mayors across the country just drove some "Mayor Lives Here" signs into their yard.

I'm going to put up one that says "I am Sparticus" so it's like the house is also Sparticus, hehe.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:59 PM on August 7, 2008


Read a couple articles on this, and am still curious about one thing: while the suspect was in his underwear and socks, handcuffed and on the floor of his house, along with his elderly mother-in-law and his dead dogs of course, did he ask for a lawyer during the multiple hours he was interrogated? If he did (and one would imagine that he did), and still wasn't granted one, this would be a much, much bigger deal than screwing up a no-knock warrant, or shooting dogs, or communication difficulty between law enforcement agencies.

And I thought DC was bad...
posted by Football Bat at 8:04 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Let's see, this past Tuesday at 7pm (the day and time of this particular raid), I would have just been returning from Taco Tuesday after-work drinks and would be thusly buzzed. If I somehow ended up at my mother's place, she would have two dogs - a ridiculously cheerful Rott-Lab mix and an overweight Yorkie - barking their brains out at the advancing shock troops. Both dogs would probably be shot to prevent their slobber from befouling the copper's kevlar body armor, my mom would be hysterical, and the alcohol in my veins, the sight of dead pets and the sounds of a distraught mother, would have me yelling all sorts of cruel language and spouting off about my quaint notions of "constitutional rights." Such a reaction would probably get my loud-mouthed, uncooperative, liberal ass shot off.

With our civil rights sand-blasted down to their current state, with the near impunity with which the "War On XYZ" is being prosecuted, I seriously fear the government breaking down my door more than I do a criminal organization. If it's the local crack salesperson, at least I can fight back and the community might even back me up (posthumously, if things go awry). Police or FBI? I don't have the kind of money or clout it takes to defend my name and livelihood (or my family's, posthumously, if things go awry) against that kind of invasion.

Also, I've personally heard n00b cops laughing over beers about "raids" they've done on college parties, where they got major jollies off rolling up to the house with their shotguns out ("I totally pumped it with one-hand *Kachik* while walking up to them! Badass!"), yelling at and roughing up the "punks," trashing the house to look for "evidence," and how they detained all the "hot chicks" for questioning afterward. I'll bet anything that whoever shot that mayor's dogs is having a similarly satisfied chuckle about the whole thing.
posted by krippledkonscious at 8:06 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


Mitrovarr's theory that this happened for political reasons is definitely plausible. But it could just be a culture of brutality in that police department, as mentioned upthread. Amnesty International wrote them up six years ago, and looks like nothing's changed.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 8:07 PM on August 7, 2008


There are a lot of people who are far more concerned with the treatment of pets than they are other human beings

I don't think it's that animals are seen as more important than humans. I think a mayor's animal is seen as more important than a rank-and-file human.
posted by stammer at 8:09 PM on August 7, 2008


Steroids and knowing that no prosecutor will prosecute you is a hell of a combination.
posted by orthogonality at 6:31 PM on August 7 [+] [!]


Huh? What's with the steroids angle?


Incidentally, while this happened in a white-majority town in PG County, the county is a majority black with an older, majority white police force widely seen as racist.

The last several times dogs came up in the context of PG cops, it was because officers were letting their police dogs maul homeless people and black suspects.

But even as the county's police force has become more integrated, and come under a black political leadership, it hasn't gotten any better:

...Prince George's County, where the police force killed more people during the past decade than any police force in America, and where no officer during that time has been fired or demoted for shooting somebody, the police department is 41 percent African American.


posted by orthogonality at 7:20 PM on August 7 [1 favorite +] [!]


You should really live here before making those generalizations... especially since I'm not sure what your point is. Are you pointing out a racist angle? It just doesn't fit this issue.

So PG is a majority black county. What does that have to do with anything? Why are you linking to a story that is almost 10 years old in reference to police dogs mauling black people and the homeless? Is that even relevant?

In addition, the 'majority white police force' by your own account is 41% African American, which I'd gather is far and above a higher percentage of African Americans on most police forces across the nation. And again, you're referencing an article from 2001. I'd wonder what the percentages and age stats are today.

Lastly, your jab at things "haven't gotten any better" is ALSO from 2001. Jeez.

I'm not going to argue that PG County is the land of Milk & Honey - after all it's always in the news almost every night for one crime or another... but in relation to this issue about the mayor of a small town (that happens to be in PG County) getting the Swat Smackdown is off-base. Looks to me like you're just trying to flame up the issue.
posted by matty at 8:09 PM on August 7, 2008


Matty, the police force may be 41% African American, but the county is 66% African-American. Source.

That disparity can definitely be interpreted as significant.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 8:14 PM on August 7, 2008


matty writes "Looks to me like you're just trying to flame up the issue."

I was trying to give some background on the long history of brutality, callousness, and incompetence of PG police. No, I never lived there, but I lived close enough to read (it seems like every week) a story in the Washington Post about PG police "whoopsies".

While the police force is more integrated now, for years after the county became majority black, the police force, most hired when the county was majority white, remained majority white. In my opinion, the force was racist and this fed their contempt for suspects and suspects' rights, and that built up so much that the cops are now prejudiced not just against blacks, but against anyone not wearing blue.

So, yes, I think the trends ten and even twenty years ago give insight into what happened in Berwyn Heights last week.
posted by orthogonality at 8:21 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


lol, I accidentally misread that as "A SWAT team in Maryland raids a city's mayor's house and kills his dogs"!









...oh.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:23 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


The police force (as sourced) was 41% African American in 2001. What is it now?

Regardless, what does the race issue have to do with this post about a white mayor in a white-majority town? So if the town is a white majority, with a police force that is still most likely a white majority, what's the point of the race call-out?
posted by matty at 8:24 PM on August 7, 2008


I'd buy what you're saying orthogonality... and to an extent you're probably right. It's more about policy and ingrained culture in the force than anything to do with current race relations.
posted by matty at 8:27 PM on August 7, 2008


The police force (as sourced) was 41% African American in 2001. What is it now?

60% brown shirts.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:34 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


matty writes "what's the point of the race call-out?"

matty, I was just trying to background PG county, Berwyn Heights, and county police force's racism for people not familiar with PG County. I'm sorry, I'm trying to do this from a laptop with a crap keyboard with an only semi-working spacebar, and I guess I failed to google up the perfect and perfectly balanced and recently enough written article to link to, and I guess didn't take the care composing my comment that you would have, and I know you'd have done better, and I hope that before I die I'll one day be able to live up to your exacting standards.
posted by orthogonality at 8:36 PM on August 7, 2008


Is anyone else thinking back to that scene in Brazil where a dazed woman looks at the ruins of her apartment and her husband laying dead on the floor, and cries out, "My name is Buttle!"
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:38 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Orthongonality - please scroll up two posts prior to your last post. I pretty much agree with you in that context. Kisses and hugs.
posted by matty at 8:41 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's no way in the world that those SWAT guys didn't know it was the mayor's house. Of course they knew.

They did it anyway because:

A) "Cops Bust Corrupt Mayor in Drug Sting!" is a cool headline

or

B) It was political. Maybe a "message" to the mayor from one of his higher-up rivals.

I'm not sure what's worse: heavily-armed but incompetent buffoons busting down doors in search of drugs and headlines or politically-motivated "police raids" designed to intimidate or even kill rival public officials.

Either way, we're basically living in Bolivia now.
posted by Avenger at 8:49 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else thinking back to that scene in Brazil where a dazed woman looks at the ruins of her apartment and her husband laying dead on the floor, and cries out, "My name is Buttle!"

Honest to god, we almost watched that movie tonight, but though my g/f has never seen it, I find it all too depressingly reminiscent of reality of late to do so.

However, I'm wondering when that's going to stop.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:50 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm quite pro law-and-order, and I firmly disagree with intimations that this is some kind of cultural, systemic problem in the U.S. Never ascribe to evil what can be explained by stupidity, I always say.

That said, the level of stupidity and incompetence displayed here is staggeringly stupid.

Just set aside the wrong warrant for a minute. Just set that fuck up aside. It's bad enough all by itself.

* If there's a bullet hole in the wall, that means the bullet traversed the dog and could've struck a person. This is why things like Glaser Safety Slugs were invented. They've been available for more than 30 years. Yet apparently, this SWAT team has never heard of them.

* Why is they *waiting* for someone to pick up the package? Clearly, it's to make a bigger bust. But that's just stupid. That's like you passing up a dollar on the ground right now for the chance of finding two dollars on the ground tomorrow.

I recall a friend of mine interviewed for a police position, and they posed a hypothetical question to him. Let's say you're following a car that you think has a drunk driver in it. While you're following him, you pass a car on the side of the road, and it looks like someone is in trouble. What do you do? Do you stop and investigate and let the possibly drunk driver go and hit someone? Or do you continue following the drunk driver?

My friend answered that he'd use the radio to call for help for the guy on the side of the road, and continue following the drunk driver.

He didn't get the job. He felt that his interviewer's reaction to this question was part of the reason he was turned down.

Years later, I posed that hypothetical to a real police officer, to see what his reaction was.

It's a trick question, he said. Why are you following a drunk driver? What, are you waiting to see what else he might do? Fucking pull him over there and then, he said. You're following a drunk driver and he passes someone stuck on the side of the road? What if he HIT the person stuck on the side of the road?

The incompetence stuns me. Know what really stuns me? The fact that a cop's starting salary probably works out to something like $12 bucks an hour. And then we give 'em guns. And then we're surprised when they fuck up.

And they fuck up so much that then we fuck up and think it's a conspiracy.

I don't want less cops. I want more. And I want them paid well and held to very, very high standards.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:03 PM on August 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Current marijuana laws are, in a word, retarded.

The cops that are enforcing those laws are, if anything, more retarded. There are infinitely more important things they should be doing.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:04 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mayor Calvo: the killing of his dogs "appears to have been done for sport." [Youtube]
posted by orthogonality at 9:10 PM on August 7, 2008


FBI to Review Raid That Killed Mayor's Dogs.
posted by gudrun at 9:20 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Having grown in in PG county and having known a few PG county cops personally, I can assure you that they're basically just gangsters with badges. Corrupt to the core.

Here's a charming joke my friends parents', both PG county cops told me once, when I was 16 or so.

"How many PG county cops does it take to push a n****r down a flight of stairs? --- None, he just fell."
posted by empath at 9:30 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, jesus, gudrun's link contains allegations that in another case, after police were informed they were at a different address than that on their warrant, the cops instead of leaving shot owners' dog, the dog outside in the yard.

In another case, after making a search by claiming to have a non-existent warrant, PG cops allegedly threatened to kill the owner's dog if they returned the next day.

Yeah, this goes beyond mere incompetence, this is cops killing dogs in order to intimidate, punish, or control dog owners.

Meanwhile, also from gudrun's link, the PG County's NAACP President "said Calvo experienced police action familiar to many young black men in the county."
posted by orthogonality at 9:32 PM on August 7, 2008


I'm quite pro law-and-order, and I firmly disagree with intimations that this is some kind of cultural, systemic problem in the U.S.

Yes, the first half of that sentence would explain the second half.

How many stories of this nature, taking place throughout the length and breadth of the USA, do you have to read before you will accept that the increasing paramilitarization of police forces and the tragic consequences thereof are systemic issues?

And they fuck up so much that then we fuck up and think it's a conspiracy.

'Conspiracy' and 'systemic problem' are completely different things.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:35 PM on August 7, 2008


I don't think you can bring up PG county politics without bringing up race. If you grew up in this area, you'd understand. It's a majority black county, that happens to have some of the wealthiest majority black neighborhoods in the US. It also has a lot of desperately poor black people, too -- urban, crime ridden neighborhoods near DC, and out further east, you've got folks living out in the country areas that don't even have running water and electricity.

As far as white folks, go. The Klan is still active in the south east parts of PG county -- at the grocery story I checked groceries in, the guy that invented Sea Monkeys (no kidding around) was a proud white supremicist and sported a Swastika tie tack and cuff links. The white folks I worked with peppered the word n****r into casual conversation pretty regularly. The schools are fairly segregated, as well, or at least were 10 years ago, when I lived in the area. I don't think it's a happy place to grow up black in. The police force there is brutal and racist, which is not a great combination.
posted by empath at 9:44 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


You people need protection from your protectors.
posted by cmacleod at 9:46 PM on August 7, 2008


How many stories of this nature, taking place throughout the length and breadth of the USA, do you have to read before you will accept that the increasing paramilitarization of police forces and the tragic consequences thereof are systemic issues?

I challenge the basis of your argument, that there is an "increasing paramilitarization."

If these guys had charged in on a proper warrant (they didn't), which they are lawfully allowed to do (and in fact lawfully required to do, for that is part of the nature of police work), and properly subdued the inhabitants (they didn't) with nothing more than harsh language and batons (they didn't), would you still call it "paramilitarization?"

I doubt it. So what does "paramilitarization" mean to you, exactly? Did a law change somewhere? Last time I looked, posse comitatus was still around.

Is it the tactics, then? Like I said, it isn't any different than what existed 20, 30, 50 years ago. Police served warrants and barged into houses back in the old days, too. How is it "increasing?" Do you fear the issuing of spurious warrants? We elect and appoint judges. Are you unhappy with their decision-making? Are you unhappy with the system of how warrants are issued or not issued?

Are you objecting to the nature of the military-style equipment? Is it the tactical gear and the submachine guns that set you off? I guess we could argue that, but I don't see the point. Do you want to limit what kind of gear they can use?

Or is it that you think marijuana should be de-criminalized? You'd have a point there. But that's a separate issue from "increasing paramilitarization." Again, whatever that means to you. Is there "increasing paramilitarization" in the enforcement of jaywalking?

In the end, I think those freely tossing around the term "increasing paramilitarization" are blowing about an 80 percent ratio of hot air to coherent, cogent thoughts, and just aren't thinking very hard about exactly which "systemic issue(s)" are the one(s) that is/are pissing them off.

But I guess it's just easier to post yet another "fuck the pigs" rant, because it won't make your head hurt too much.

There's plenty to be pissed off about, believe me. And as I said before, this is a case of staggering incompetence. But if you want to have more than a late-night dorm room bull session, you could start by tossing out the overheated, limp-dick rhetoric about Big Brother.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:08 PM on August 7, 2008


Forgive me if this sounds like apples & oranges, BUT:

In my time in the Coast Guard, we did lots of searches of suspected drug boats. Some of them actually had drugs on them. And I firmly believe, as I did back then, that I & the guys on my boat would've used deadly force had the situation been put upon us. (Thankfully, it never was.)

I don't think you could've gotten one of the guys on my boat to shoot a DOG unless the pooch was itself packing a shotgun. Seriously. When we were picking up Cuban refugees (the 1994 mass exodus), command ordered us to destroy any pets among the refugees. There was a unified expression of horror on the faces of the skipper, the XO and the crew when that order came over the wire. And yes, that order was roundly ignored.

So I don't know. War on Drugs doesn't of necessity equate to War on Dogs. I was pretty amped to catch dope smugglers, but I never thought it'd be cool to kill someone's dog over it. And yes, the issue of the dogs is to say nothing of how the "suspects" were treated or the nature of the evidence that this SWAT team was going on.

Everything about this story just says that this SWAT team needs one serious, fire-breathing Federal investigation.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:18 PM on August 7, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think police have a crappy job and I try to give them the benefit of the doubt but you hear so many stories like this and you know it's not an isolated incident.

It seems their policy is to shoot any dogs found at raid locations. What dog doesn't bark when a door is kicked in, especially in a sleeping household, whether it's a teacup chihuahua or a bullmastiff?

Why not have officers front and back and knock on the front door within a few minutes of the package being brought inside? And does the law require that the package be inside the house? The mother-in-law signed for it and left it on the porch, why not raid then? I mean was the plan to catch them counting big stacks of benjamins or making dime bags?

And unless you're at Guantanamo, don't let anyone interrogate you for hours.
posted by shoesietart at 10:23 PM on August 7, 2008


Just a small nitpick with the FPP -- the warrant wasn't wrong at all - they shouldn't have broken in, and shot the dogs. The cops were wrong.
posted by inigo2 at 10:27 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell,

I'd like to weigh in some evidence to support the idea of "increasing paramilitarization". Well, except that I'd go so far as to call it "increasing militarization" of our law enforcement agencies.

The first bit of evidence does have to do with the gear they carry. By and large the average officer that you see is wearing some form of BDU pant and technical/tactical boot and shoe covering. Add to that most localities require their officers to wear bullet proof vests during regular duty hours, not that I'm against the vests as they do save lives. And even in a supposedly safe city such as mine (Madison WI), when large events happen around our capital building and college campus the city, capital and campus police all turn out in half-riot gear and there are paddy wagons parked every few blocks. The clothing certainly would make any reasonable person get kind of funny in the head if that's what they wore every day of work, and putting it on in the station locker room with a few dozen other individuals would both heighten the sense of bonding in the group as well as the associations with that form of clothing from media consumption dealing with the military and violence does seem to put folks on edge.

If you doubt that even the terminology associated with police uniform has a distinctly militaristic odor I'd suggest you check out Gall's supply. They're one of the largest civil service (police, fire, emt ect) supply companies in the US and there's not a page of their magazine that doesn't have the word "tactical" on it somewhere.

Second bit of evidence is the perceived essence of what being a modern police officer means. Yes there is a significant portion of law knowledge. But, it seems (from talking to a cop friend of mine) that a goodly portion of police academy training is very physical and often borrowed directly from the military, with a good helping of possible lethal martial arts thrown in.

So training, clothing, environment... what's not militarization?
posted by Sam.Burdick at 10:33 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, two men were arrested in connection to the box o' pot. There was a delivery guy and an accomplice who were intercepting incoming boxes of marijuana:
Prince George's County police announced yesterday that they have arrested a deliveryman and another man who they say are involved in a scheme to smuggle marijuana by shipping packages addressed to unsuspecting recipients, including a delivery last week to the wife of the mayor of Berwyn Heights.
...
Police said the package was one of about a half-dozen retrieved by authorities in the past week along the route of a deliveryman in northern Prince George's. The packages contained a combined 417 pounds of marijuana valued at about $3.6 million.
Good policework all around! Goodness, you think these six boxes containing 417 pounds of drugs sent to PG County are connected somehow?

Pointing fingers at the cops and playing numbers games with the area's demographics doesn't change the simple fact: if we're going to have a war on drugs, we're going to have to accept some casualties.
posted by peeedro at 11:36 PM on August 7, 2008


That presupposes the concept that we want a 'war' on drugs.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:45 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, next time that delivery guy will remember address spoof poor people!
posted by delmoi at 11:50 PM on August 7, 2008


Are you objecting to the nature of the military-style equipment? Is it the tactical gear and the submachine guns that set you off? I guess we could argue that, but I don't see the point. Do you want to limit what kind of gear they can use?

I don't see what's wrong with complaining about equipment. Most of these cops, frankly, are idiots. If you give them a bunch of paramillitary gear then they are going to want to go on commando raids even when they are not necessary. If you restrict their gear, they'll have to behave in more sensible ways.
posted by delmoi at 11:54 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mr. Bunnsy has it exactly right. They shoot your dogs to hurt you, not because they need to.
posted by Malor at 11:55 PM on August 7, 2008


Additionally, I live about three miles from Berwyn Heights, this and tomato-stealing squirrels are all the talk on the local listserve. The Washington Post is covering this issue from many angles. One of the more interesting tidbits that I ran across was the lack of coordination between sheriff, county and city police (from the second link):
The case has highlighted friction between law enforcement agencies. The county police and Sheriff's Office have jurisdiction throughout Prince George's and typically handle major crimes, but they share jurisdiction with smaller police forces in some of the county's 27 towns and cities.

Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick Murphy has been highly critical of the county police for not alerting his eight-member department before the raid. He said his officers could have gained entry to the home without incident or informed county police that Calvo was unlikely to be violent.

Greenbelt Police Chief James R. Craze said yesterday that county officers contacted his 54-member department the day of the raid to ask whether his emergency response unit could serve the warrant. County police have said the Sheriff's Office was asked to participate because its team was busy at the time. Craze said it is not unusual for agencies to cooperate in such cases.

"From what I know, their SWAT team wasn't available, and that's why they were out shopping," he said.
It's not so common for police publicly piss on the legs of the comrades. But it's happening here.
posted by peeedro at 11:59 PM on August 7, 2008


I am a little astonished that you think your police forces have not become increasingly paramilitarized, CPB. But then I suppose a fish doesn't recognize that it's in water. What you grow up with, you accept as normal.

Suffice to say that what goes on in the US police forces is not normal by other country's standards.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:59 PM on August 7, 2008


417 pounds of marijuana valued at about $3.6 million

Around here that's about $1,981,000 worth of marijuana.
posted by Tenuki at 12:45 AM on August 8, 2008


So what does "paramilitarization" mean to you, exactly?

It means elected officials (legislators and jurists) enabling local, state and federal systems to:

1. Equip and train policemen and women like they are members of the military, which violates the spirit if not word of Posse Comitatus, where a hallmark of the classical Fascist state includes increased militarism

2. Further entwine private military and security contractors, taxpayer-funded budgets and law enforcement, where another hallmark of the classical Fascist state is the protection of corporate interests

3. Treat the United States like a war zone, so as to allow military-armed policemen and women freer rein to get away with increasingly unchecked and aggressive behavior, yet another characteristic of the classical Fascist state

The US may not be truly Fascist, yet, but what is not deniable is that it is taking on increasingly troubling characteristics of what are understood historically to be Fascist states. In this historical light, the widespread deployment of paramilitaries and their equivalents (i.e., "paramilitarization") does not help America be a Land of Freedom.

That's what I see happening in my United States of America, and I suspect others across the entire political spectrum are seeing that, too. I hope you're right that we're all wrong, but I don't think so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 AM on August 8, 2008 [13 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: The problem is that the "tactical" gear, the kevlar, the armored cars, the M4A1s or whatever are supposed to be for highly dangerous hostage situations or those once in a decade situations like the massive shootout at the bank in North Hollywood a while back. But when every podunk little town decides they need this shit to be "cutting edge" and blows its budget getting it, they've suddenly found themselves with a very big, very expensive hammer. And so they go looking for nails to justify the expense. And if it's not really a nail, well, you hit it anyway.

Suddenly you've got police serving warrants in suburbia for ridiculous little petty offenses in full tactical gear. Instead of beat cop officer Bob walking up to a guy and arresting him without a fuss, you end up with these idiots "slipping" and killing innocent people for no reason. It's ridiculous. It's unjustifiable.

Police should be walking beats and engaging the community, not treating neighborhoods like they're in fucking Baghdad. Oh, sure, there may be a few exceptions like parts of south central in the early 90s or whatever, but these cops are shooting up Mayberry.

The police do not use this equipment and these tactics for officer safety. There are far safer ways to handle most of these situations. They use this stuff because they think it's cool and because god forbid somebody should flush an ounce of mary-jane down the toilet when you knock on the door instead of coming through it with a flashbang and shooting up the place.
posted by Justinian at 1:54 AM on August 8, 2008 [13 favorites]


This is an interesting read, and it was published 1997 the situation has only gotten worse since 2001.
posted by Tenuki at 2:05 AM on August 8, 2008


Is it possible that, here on MeFi, we can keep this focused on the event in question and avoid generalizing to every police officer in every department?

Yes, let's pretend this is an "isolated incident." Because most cops would never do something like this.

Right.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:35 AM on August 8, 2008


If there wasn't DHS money for swat teams, I wonder if this would even be an issue. Police departments should have to pay (in increased oversight standards) for the privileged of these dangerous raids.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:50 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


"You people need protection from your protectors."

It's called the 2nd Ammendment.
posted by Eideteker at 5:04 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


My first reaction when I read about this in the Baltimore Sun was, "they were dumb enough to do this to a rich white guy? I thought that only happened to poor folk."

I go to police community meetings. I'm on a first name basis with a lot of the cops in my district and they are fine folks. I also live on the edge of a high crime area and have seen the flex squads doing just this kind of thing more than once. I watched 3 white cops beat up a cuffed black teen in front of my house. A cop who punched an internal affairs plainclothesman without provocation was just acquitted in court of assault (there had been brutality complaints).

I hope that when the cops misread the address, and beat down my door, that they are good shots and cleanly kill my 15 year old, arthritic, deaf dog. And that my cats can hide before someone decides they are a threat, too.
posted by QIbHom at 6:16 AM on August 8, 2008


Speaking of increased paramilitarization, how about this raid on a house near Wilmington NC done by county and campus cops over the theft of a PS3. The kid and his dog were both killed after one deputy mistook the sound of their own battering ram for gunshots. Why were they doing a military raid over a PS3? Another suspect, who did not live in the house they were raiding, had pictures of guns on his webpage.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:25 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Be careful how you abbreviate.
posted by Pax at 6:31 AM on August 8, 2008


"You people need protection from your protectors."

It's called the 2nd Ammendment.


Are you suggesting that the mayor would have been better off if he had been armed, and had shot at the SWAT team as they breached the house? Or are you calling for a general insurrection? It's not obvious to me how gun ownership provides a typical law-abiding citizen with protection from military-trained and equipped assault squads that breach your house at night with no warning.
posted by Humanzee at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


"You people need protection from your protectors."

It's called the 2nd Ammendment.


I garantee you that if the mayor had brandished a gun in this encounter, he would have been shot too, many times shot. Waving a gun at police is not an effective way to protect yourself.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:32 AM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree, it wouldn't have done squat in this situation. I'm just saying the 2nd-A was designed to protect us from our protectors. But moreso by ousting our government officials every time they suggest something as ridiculous as a war on drugs (Seriously? On drugs? Drugs can't fight back. You mean a war on drug users, who tended at the time to be brown). By the time they're knocking at your door, it's already too late.

Tree of Liberty, Blood of Tyrants. My new album, coming soon to a Wal*Mart near you.
posted by Eideteker at 7:46 AM on August 8, 2008


Ah, looks like I entered "reddit.com" in my address bar accidentally.
posted by wastelands at 7:50 AM on August 8, 2008


Ta-Nehisi Coates has a really good article up about brutality in the PG Police Force:

Black and Blue: Why does America's richest black suburb have some of the country's most brutal cops?
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:02 AM on August 8, 2008


Regarding the tactical gear and equipment arguments ... guys, it just doesn't wash, I'm sorry. Anecdotally, I think it's safe to say that 90+ percent of all police-related deaths come from their day-to-day handguns, not the SWAT teams with the fancy stuff.

Interesting that no one wanted to discuss the warrant process, legal issues and police funding/training. You're mostly just hung up on guns and bulletproof vests, as if taking those items away would make the problems go away, too.

One thing I know from being a father is that taking the toys away from the kids doesn't mean they can't ever get into trouble all by themselves.

Sigh. More hot air and misplaced indignation on MeFi. I am unsurprised.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:15 AM on August 8, 2008


wierdo : There are a lot of people who are far more concerned with the treatment of pets than they are other human beings. I've never understood it, but I know a lot of people who are that way.

I'm that way, mainly because I didn't want kids. Instead, I've filled my house with pets that I hold in quite high regard, and some of them, like my parrot and my tortoise will probably outlive me by decades, so I have no reason to assume that I will have to mourn their passing.

If someone came into my house and shot my animals with absolutely no justification, I would dedicate my life to finding new and interesting ways to make them suffer.

The police are absolutely in the wrong here and every single person involved with the strategic planning of this raid should be fired.

Cool Papa Bell : I don't want less cops. I want more. And I want them paid well and held to very, very high standards.

Yes. Absolutely. Double their pay, and use the increased number of applicants as way of weeding out the undesirable candidates.
posted by quin at 9:32 AM on August 8, 2008


You're mostly just hung up on guns and bulletproof vests, as if taking those items away would make the problems go away, too.

Works for the UK, to some degree. Certainly, not spending as much on hi-tech guns and vests means the ability to spend more on police salaries and training.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:39 AM on August 8, 2008


Interesting that no one wanted to discuss the warrant process, legal issues and police funding/training.

the warrant process: They did not have a no-knock warrant and they didn't show the warrant to the house occupants. This is against the law.
legal issues: They broke into this guy's house and killed his dogs. This is against the law.
police funding: They must have a lot of money if they can waste it on this.
police training: Presumably they are not actually training people to act like this. In any case, they probably need better training.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:15 AM on August 8, 2008


You're mostly just hung up on guns and bulletproof vests, as if taking those items away would make the problems go away, too.

I'm not normally a fan of blaming objects for 'people problems,' but it's quite clear in this case that the tactics used by the police are intimately related to the equipment they have available for use. If you don't have battering rams and tactical gear and automatic weapons, you're a lot less likely to pull one of these ridiculous stack-the-door "raids" that seem to be more and more de rigeur.

And if you have that sort of equipment, well, who wouldn't want to use it? Particularly if you've spent a lot of time training to do it (which you have, because MOUT training is pretty fun and beats paperwork any day), it might seem like the obvious solution.

Of course, it's not. Both the weapons and tactics of SWAT are inappropriate for everything but a very small minority of police departments, because they're unnecessary in everything but a tiny number of police encounters. But because they're cool and appeal to people in law enforcement, and because both the equipment and training has been heavily funded by Federal, State, and local governments, SWAT teams and SWAT-appropriate equipment exist in far greater amounts than is remotely justified for domestic law enforcement use.

If you give people training and equipment, they're going to want to use that training and equipment in the real world. That's only natural, and it should be understood when training and equipment are purchased. Serving a warrant shouldn't look like a battle drill out of Army FM 7-8 -- but that's what happens when you train and equip police officers the same way.

The blame isn't on the equipment necessarily, but really on the people authorizing that sort of equipment for purchase and deployment to departments that have little or no legitimate use for it. However, the bottom line is that the equipment shouldn't be there.

All that's not to say that the judges issuing the warrants, or the DAs requesting the warrants, aren't complicit also. Although I'm not clear in this case whether there actually was a warrant at the time of the raid at all, much less a no-knock warrant, there was no legitimate reason for anyone to request or issue a no-knock.

These "incidents" have become common enough that it's obvious there's a systemic problem going on, which is going to be very difficult and costly to fix. I agree with you that the solution needs to involve dramatic increases to officer pay, in order to increase applicant quality, but it also needs to include a major shift in training focus, away from military-derived tactics and back to more traditional, community-focused police skills.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:29 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Regarding the tactical gear and equipment arguments ... guys, it just doesn't wash, I'm sorry.

No, you're not. You're also wrong. Color me unsurprised.

You're deliberately misunderstanding the argument. It's not that "taking away their toys" would magically solve all problems, it's that the increasing militarization of police nationwide is a symptom of fundamental structural issues. And it's a symptom that should be treated. That doesn't mean it solves the fundamental structural issues, but it's a good place to start.

You seem to be saying that taking TheraFlu or Tylenol or whatever if you have the flu is pointless because it doesn't get rid of the flu. Well, no, but it makes the situation better while you address the cause.
posted by Justinian at 12:29 PM on August 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sigh. More hot air and misplaced indignation on MeFi. I am unsurprised.

Admit it -- you're not here for the hunting.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:39 PM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I find it interesting, in this particular force, that there was the money to buy all this fancy gear, but apparently not enough to train some competent, strategic-thinking investigators.

Or for that primitive but useful police tactic of surveillance.

Because it seems to me that if they knew that X individual was going to receive a Big Box o'Weed, they might have investigated that person first, finding out who they are, what they do, who they live with, that sort of thing. They'd perhaps watch that person - seeing as how they were controlling the arrival of the box - for a while to see if s/he met with known drug offenders or other persons of interest. They'd maybe start trying to put together evidence to prove something beyond receipt of a Big Box o'Weed, because getting the box could only be the start of a criminal enterprise.

Once the box was in the house, they could have had people watching. Listening on the phones, to see who X individual called when they got the Big Box o'Weed. It seems to me if I'm a law abiding citizen and I bring a box into my house with my name on it, open it up and find that it's a Big Box o'Weed, my immediate thought is that I'm either being set up, that something very wrong happened somehow and bad people are about to come after me (a la Layer Cake) or I am otherwise now involved in something I want no part of, and my first move is to pick up the phone and call the police. If the X person doesn't call the police, you step up the watching. If someone comes out with smaller boxes, or a bag or something, that they could be transporting the weed in, then you act. You might try some more following and watching.

There was an opportunity here to, perhaps, bring down a network of drug dealers. But that probably wouldn't have involved a chance to use the big bad noisy toys. It would've required nuanced, careful, discreet activity by thoughtful law enforcement whose interest is actually apprehending criminals rather than a flashbang show by enforcers who want a bust. And apparently those things are just sadly, seriously passé.
posted by Dreama at 12:56 PM on August 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


It seems to me if I'm a law abiding citizen and I bring a box into my house with my name on it, open it up and find that it's a Big Box o'Weed, my immediate thought is that I'm either being set up, that something very wrong happened somehow and bad people are about to come after me (a la Layer Cake) or I am otherwise now involved in something I want no part of, and my first move is to pick up the phone and call the police.

A problem with this is that, depending on who you are, calling up the cops with "I found these drugs and would like to report them" can just get you thrown in jail. I read about this from time to time, though it's hard to search for an example article.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:33 PM on August 8, 2008


Georgia and I then were interrogated by police. Georgia was questioned by a detective named Kim, who in the course of her questioning managed to talk on her cell phone and to make a veterinary appointment for her dog. Georgia overheard Kim tell her friend that, this was her first raid and that it was "exciting" because it was the mayor's house. Finally, after nearly two hours, the officers released the restraints on my mother-in-law and me after I complained about losing feeling in my right hand. The officers ultimately decided not to arrest me or any member of my family and indeed found no evidence linking any of us to the box's contents.
posted by Kwantsar at 11:28 AM on August 9, 2008


In Hudson v. Michigan (2006) the U.S. Supreme Court decided:
A violation of the "knock-and-announce" rule by police does not require the suppression of the evidence found during a search.
I don't mean to imply Mayor Calvo will be charged with a crime, of course. But in legitimate busts, conducting a no-knock raid without the proper warrant will not prevent the evidence from being used in court. No wonder the cops don't bother knocking.
posted by ryanrs at 9:10 PM on August 9, 2008


Puppycide in Prince George's County
posted by homunculus at 2:39 PM on August 11, 2008


It's better when the police department doesn't give the wrong-house raiders a medal for doing it!
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:28 PM on August 13, 2008


I firmly disagree with intimations that this is some kind of cultural, systemic problem in the U.S.
...
he fact that a cop's starting salary probably works out to something like $12 bucks an hour. And then we give 'em guns. And then we're surprised when they fuck up.


CPB, stop arguing with yourself.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:43 PM on August 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is nuts? So you're saying all you have to do in order to get someone fucking arrested and have their dogs killed is to mail them some drugs? Seriously? 1) Who the fuck was the package *from*? 2) Who's stupid enough to mail drugs?* It so obviously looks like a set-up. Someone doesn't like the mayor, so they send him drugs. So fucking stupid.


* Okay I guess people who do drugs might be that stupid.
posted by airways at 5:15 PM on August 17, 2008


Also,
It was delivered to the house by police posing as deliverymen and left on the porch on the instruction of Calvo's mother-in-law.
Isn't that very much like entrapment?
posted by airways at 5:18 PM on August 17, 2008


Internal Investigation: Slaughter of Mayor's Dogs During Botched Drug Raid Justified
posted by homunculus at 8:03 PM on September 6, 2008


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