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by Peter Moskos

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).


Anonymous said...

The real reason he is angry is because police shot his attack dogs. He made up all kinds of lies, like "the dogs weren't attacking" and "the dog was running away" and "one of the police made an appointment for her dog at the vet while the suspects were still handcuffed there with the dead dogs."

I can't believe that you would give this liar space here by quoting him. Everything was by the book. Those dogs were a threat that had to be stopped. Officer safety is quite important.

PCM said...

I'm not not faulting the officers for the tactical decisions they made during the raid (as I quote a P.G. officer in a previous post: "We're not in the habit of going to homes and shooting peoples' dogs.... If we were, there would be a lot more dead dogs around the county.").

I am faulting the raid for happening at all. Doesn't it strike you as a bit absurd, to say the least, that the home of an innocent mayor was raided and his dogs were shot when the man did absolute nothing wrong? What the hell were police doing busting down his door in the first place?

THE POLICE WERE WRONG. Not the police officers taking part in the raid. THE POLICE.

Doesn't it strike you as absurd for the police to hand-deliver drugs to the door of an innocent man stranger and then raid the house "in order to keep drugs off the street."

This raid is an unfortunately great example of how mistaken and harmful the war on drugs is in a democratic and free society. As a former law enforcement officer, it shames me as it should shame all freedom loving Americans.

And the only reason it got any press was because they raided the house of a middle-class innocent white man who knows how to speak to the press. Luckily, unlike many of the homes of the more than 100 million other American who have ever tried marijuana, there was a joint somewhere in the house. Because then the raid would have been called a success. And if Calvo had been a poor black man with a criminal record, nobody would have believed a word he said.

If you think this was a good raid--not tactically, but conceptually--then I BOTH pity and fear your belief in the roll of police in a free society.

Anonymous said...

I guess my problem with Cheye Calvo is that he said that they should not have shot his dogs, and that the police officer made that vet appointment from the Calvo residence.

If he had just said, "I shouldn't have been raided, but since I was raided I am totally cool with the officers shooting my attack dogs" then I would have no beef with Mr. Calvo. However, when he made up all these crazy stories criticizing the officers for shooting the dogs, he crossed a line that he should not have crossed.

He needs sued for defamation because of the dogs part.

PCM said...

Oh, cut the guy some slack! He's not totally cool that officer shot his dogs. You wouldn't be either. I don't think the officers shot the dogs, "for no reason." But it's not like these were attack dogs trained to kill. His dogs got shot in front of him by police officers who shouldn't have been there in the first place. That's his perspective.

Anonymous said...

I am glad we at least agree that, once they were there, the police needed to shoot those dogs. I get very defensive when people challenge the police's authority to shoot dogs. Even the smallest chance that an LEO will be injured by a dog is plenty of reason to put it down with extreme dispatch. So many people (Cheye Calvo included) just do not understand that. This is not negotiable and it should not be a negotiable point for ANY police officer.

The only exception is for police dogs, but only because they are officers, too.

Marc S. said...

Anon, not to call you an idiot or anything, but when's the last time you've seen an Attack Lab?

Not exactly an aggressive breed...are worried they'd lick you to death? Postal workers get training through local SPCA's to identify aggressive dog behavior and seem to be able to deliver the mail without an M4. Police tactical teams are offered this training but almost never take advantage of it.

Anonymous said...


qintuq said...

Yeah...the other day the cops busted down my door and shot my dogs. Then I held a press confrence and said," I'm pissed about the door but I'm totally cool about the dogs. Seriously my chihuaha was a pretty bad*&& motherf*(ker."