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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mayor Calvo: "There are too many people in Prince George's County employed solely to dress up in military gear and kick in doors,"

Numbers paint portrait of SWAT team use
Sun, 24 Feb 2010 (Hermann)
After tactical officers burst into Cheye Calvos's house, bound his hands, held his mother-in-law on the floor and fatally shot his Labrador retrievers, the angry Berwyn Heights mayor was convinced that sheriff's deputies and other police in Prince George's County were out of control.

Even when police were serving routine warrants, regardless of whether intelligence indicated a threat, Calvo - who was absolved of any wrongdoing - argued that the police as a matter of policy deployed paramilitary teams armed with automatic weapons. Police expressed regret for the raid on Calvo's house in 2008, but the outrage over their tactics sparked legislation requiring police agencies in Maryland to compile data on tactical entries.

The first batch of numbers, obtained by The Baltimore Sun in a Public Information Act request to the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, is now out. And Calvo said it proves his point: In the last six months of 2009, Prince George's County police made more tactical raids - an average of more than one a day - than any other jurisdiction in Maryland, more than double the number conducted by officers in Baltimore City.

Police in Prince George's used tactical officers in 105 raids involving what the FBI defines as Part II crimes - nonserious felonies and misdemeanors - and 90 for more violent offenses, such as murder, rape and aggravated assault. In Baltimore City, police raided 84 houses, 30 for nonserious crimes. Baltimore County officers conducted 62 tactical raids, only one of which involved a nonserious crime.

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"There are too many people in Prince George's County employed solely to dress up in military gear and kick in doors," the mayor said Tuesday. "How is this an efficient use of resources? They are creating situations where bad things can happen. Most of the time, things go fine, but sometimes the trigger goes off. Sometimes things go terribly wrong."

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