Cheye Calvo Gets It

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo on the police raid on his home earlier this month:

"The reality is that this happens all the time in this country and disproportionally in Prince Georges county and most of the people to whom it happens don’t have the community support and the platform to speak out. So I appreciate you paying attention to our condition but I hope you’ll also give attention to those who may not have the same platform and voice that we have."

Good for him. And he’s right

Prince George’s County police have now cleared Calvo and his wife of any wrongdoing (though they still won’t apologize for the raid), and the FBI is investigating possible civil rights violations.  Here are a few excerpts from Calvo’s letter to the Justice Department requesting that investigation:

My mother-in-law was made to lie face-down on the floor in the kitchen, several feet away from where Payton was bleeding to death. Her hands were restrained with plastic handcuffs behind her back. She laid there on the floor with her head held down by police so that she could only see Payton’s lifeless body for a considerable period of time.

The officers called for me to walk downstairs backwards with my hands up, which I did. The officers then directed to me to kneel down in the living room by the open front door in my boxer shorts with my hands restrained in plastic cuffs behind my back. I remained in that position for a considerable period of time, watching Payton’s body in the other corner of the room and my mother-in-law lying face down in the kitchen.

[…]

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.

[…]

Without ever investigating what happened or speaking to us, both the sheriff and the county police chief have announced public conclusions in this case defending the raid. More disturbing, we now have received reports of similar misconduct involving other innocent homeowners, including invasion of the homes of other innocent country residents and killing of other innocent family pets. This appears to be a pattern and practice in our law law enforcement agencies where a lack of training and supervision is apparent.

At this point, I’m pretty jaded about this stuff.  But that third paragraph nearly made my eyeballs explode.

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25 Responses to “Cheye Calvo Gets It”

  1. #1 |  Li | 

    Kudos and my love to Mayor Calvo and his family for his well said, and very true observation about the state of our police forces in this country. I am glad that someone with position and a loud voice in the community is taking up this cause, even if the path to his new found conviction was so very tragic.

  2. #2 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Thanks to Mayor Calvo for speaking up and telling the world that this was not an “isolated incident.” I hope that some kind of substantive change may come out of this travesty, though it won’t make up for the trauma inflicted on the Calvo family. Drug prohibition is putting innocents in harms way and dragging American police agencies into a gutter of incompetence, corruption and brutality. It doesn’t have to be this way. Show some spine America and end this sordid affair before more people are killed, terrorized or corrupted by its influence.

  3. #3 |  Helmut O' Hooligan | 

    Oh, I need to make a comment regarding Detective Kim’s non-chalant behavior. If this is an accurate account, this is very disturbing. Making a vetrinary appointment, detective: must be nice to have LIVING pets. You found this raid “exciting,” detective. Umm, note to Prince George’s County P.D.. Please take the time to send Detective Kim to a psychologist. She is showing some classic signs of psychopathy.

  4. #4 |  freedomfan | 

    Kudos to Calvo for doing the right thing and drawing attention to this while making it clear his family are not the only victims.

    BTW, I am very glad he mentioned those two phone calls. That the calls were made should be verifiable. Woe betide the cop who claims she didn’t make them.

    Something I hope reflects the public consciousness on this:

    [Calvo] has the support of several lawmakers who are calling for action.

    “When I heard about this, all I could think of was, my goodness, this could have happened to anybody,” said Sen. Jennie Forehand.

    (Emphasis mine.) BINGO! That’s the takeaway message: This isn’t just something that happens to criminals or people who somehow deserve it because of other things they’ve done or where they live or anything else. That the Senator seems to grasp that is critical.

    We could go through the comments at several of the sites reporting on similar cases where people without quite the clean-cut profile of the Calvos were terrorized and we’d find apologists for outrageous law enforcement behavior declaring that, “Well, maybe LE didn’t act totally properly, but those [victims] were no saints either.” As if that mattered. And, all of those comments are predicated on the notion that somehow the police would never bust down their doors, guns blazing, and kill their pets as they run for their lives. These naysayers don’t believe that they could have their family trussed up on the floor next to the cooling pool of blood for a couple hours while the cops call their buddies to gossip about the exciting raid they were on.

    People are willing to ignore an outrageous amount of despicable behavior as long as they assume it can’t be directed at them. This case, while no more compelling on the merits, is important because it helps dispel that illusion.

  5. #5 |  Veteran | 

    Justice Scalia. Are you listening?

    Here is YOUR new police professionalism in action.

    The Fourth Amendment is SUPPOSED to protect Americans from this sort of conduct. Not just federal Judges in gated communities (with new government-paid security systems) but everyone.

  6. #6 |  Dave Krueger | 

    After reading about raid after raid, I am convinced that the way occupants are treated has a lot more to do with intentional macho humiliation and intimidation than any kind of functional necessity. These cops see themselves as the good guys, by definition, and whatever they do is also, by definition, good guy stuff. Everyone else is a bad guy. And, as everyone knows, bad guys don’t matter.

    This is precisely the kind of retarded self obsessed mentality that takes joy in throwing puppies off of cliffs.

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #4 freedomfan
    BTW, I am very glad he mentioned those two phone calls. That the calls were made should be verifiable. Woe betide the cop who claims she didn’t make them.

    They won’t be verified publicly. That would intrude upon the precious privacy of law enforcement demigods.

  8. #8 |  db | 

    “When I heard about this, all I could think of was, my goodness, this could have happened to anybody,” said Sen. Jennie Forehand.

    I’d like to think she means that out-of control police raids could happen to anyone, but the annoying little pessimist in the back of my mind thinks she means: “…drug dealers using an innocent’s address for their evil plans could have happened to anybody.” There’s a difference. Does she “get” the real tragedy here?

  9. #9 |  Gerald A | 

    Will keep happening until the people revolt. I ever sit on a jury, I’ll already know the cops are cowardly liars, and vote accordingly.

  10. #10 |  vinnie | 

    Not big on law suites. I hope the good mayor sues the city for enough money to run for governor or president.

  11. #11 |  pickle | 

    The comment about the raid being “exciting” provides some confirmation about my (and many others’) hypothesis: Those involved in the raid were so worked up over the possibility of making a high-profile arrest, they let common sense go out the window. To make a no-knock entry required the officers to believe that 30+ pounds of marijuana could be flushed, and/or the mayor was likely to engage them in a violent gun battle if they knocked and announced. They made the decision to enter the house and open fire without any recognition of possible consequences to anybody other than themselves.

    It’s clear that the “Chief” doesn’t feel that investigation is a part of his duties, either before or after the fact. It’s unfortunate that our legal system all but removes any criminal and civil liability in such cases of gross negligence. Why are private citizens held to standards orders of magnitude higher than those who are sworn to protect us?

  12. #12 |  old fart | 

    Thank you Mayor Calvo. I have 4 greyhounds, and if a raiding party of cops ever shot my dogs, some of those cops would wind up dead. If I wasn’t killed first.

    Join the f’ing service if you just want to shoot stuff. There are way too many Barney Fifes in law enforcement now. Join the Marines, travel to far off lands, meet interesting and new people, and kill them. Stop shooting Americans and their dogs.

  13. #13 |  tjbbpgob | 

    Get rid of r.i.c.c.o. statues and this will go away, or just shoot the bastards.

  14. #14 |  Cornellian | 

    Re the third paragraph, if that’s what happened, the police are lucky that I don’t live in that area and am therefore not eligible to be on the jury when the mayor’s damages claim gets to trial.

  15. #15 |  HtownGuy | 

    from Pickle

    Why are private citizens held to standards orders of magnitude higher than those who are sworn to protect us?

    Yup, many orders of magnitude. And Citizens lose their freedom and sometimes lives for acting rationally when surprised by police violence, whereas the police rarely lose anything for knowing and intentionally violating the public they are responsible for serving.

  16. #16 |  nemo | 

    I would like to think that this will lead to some kind of sea-change in how the War on Drugs is conducted, but I am reminded of something that happened 7 years ago: the shoot-down of an aircraft carrying White American Christian missionaries over the Amazon by a CIA-controlled Peruvian Air Force plane (which they wouldn’t have had been able to ‘buy’ without ‘aid’ courtesy of US taxpayer dollars). This resulted in the serious wounding of the pilot, the missionary husband flying with him and the deaths of his wife and their 6-month-old adopted child.

    In response to criticisms regarding this crime committed with the US taxpayer’s dime and time, then-Represntative Porter Goss (R) said:

    “”It’s a shame what happened. But this is a war and, unfortunately, there are casualties.”

    Chiming in, we also heard from Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R):

    “While not excusing or minimizing the tragedy, we must bear in mind that nearly 16,000 Americans lose their lives each year from the use and sale of illicit drugs, many of which originate in the Andean region.”

    I s**t you not. They said it, it’s a matter of public record. Thus was the aerial butchery excused.

    This is the kind of mentality harbored by the DrugWarriors, which makes everyone they come into contact with a potential ‘statistic’. This is why we don’t hear an apology from those who were so clearly in the wrong. Hizzoner and his wife are bloody lucky to be alive, for the DrugWar is in indiscriminate killer…and those who support it don’t care how many innocents die to achieve their drug-free utopia.

  17. #17 |  Ben | 

    What happened to the idea that the government is supposed to protect our freedoms and not take them away.

    And I’m not just talking about the Drug War, althogh that’s a large part of it. Can anyone remember a piece of legislation passed in the past year (or even 10 years) that gave freedom instead of took it away?

  18. #18 |  Highway | 

    Ben, the whole point of the Constitution and specifically the Bill of Rights is to counter the fact that *all* governments do is take away freedoms. So they wrote a bunch into it about how the government can’t do this and can’t do that, and can ONLY do these certain things.

    They were trying to limit the freedom that the government took away. I know that it’s best when government IS the protector of the freedom of one person against another that would take it away, but government, by its nature, is generally the ones who take that freedom away. And when you have efforts by all branches of the government to ignore the Constitution, that’s what’s going to happen.

  19. #19 |  Bob | 

    Holy cow!

    After reading about this when it occurred, I did some research, which led me here.

    This was a serious wake up call for me.

    I can’t look at law enforcement the same way now, I now see why inner city types are leery of, and won’t cooperate with, police. They know full well that these “heroes in blue” are too often just adrenalin jacked thrill seekers with guns that are immune to prosecution.

    The utterly cavalier attitude of ‘detective’ Kim (And by ‘detective’ I mean ‘Uncaring Jack Booted Thug’) is … well, it’s appalling.

    Then the astounding attitude of County Prosecutor Robert F. Horan in the Salvatore J. Culosi case, where no amount of negligence on the part of police will result in prosecution.

    Horan strikes me as a prosecutor for whom ‘justice’ means nothing. Only the conviction of those he has already deemed guilty seems to matter to him. He brags about obtaining convictions in cases with the skimpiest of evidence, then refuses to hold his precious police responsible for any wrongdoing.

    These SWAT raids to serve non-violent warrants has to stop. There must be full transparancy and responsibility in the police departments. This attitude of “We’re just executing a raid, we can’t be held responsible” has to stop.

  20. #20 |  brian | 

    Maybe this is just the cop’s way of taking out their frustration at not getting dogs outlawed

    In all seriousness, what was the genesis of this kind of paramilitary raid of homes? Were they really losing that many cases to drugs being flushed? Were cops really getting killed when serving warrants?

    The cynic in me believes that this is more about the cops wanting more power as an organization, and – as is the case in all organizations – the ability to exercise that power in highly visible ways.

    Because it’s certainly done fuck-all when it comes to stopping the drug trade.

  21. #21 |  Bob | 

    Brian,

    I actually think that the reason the unwritten policy is “Shoot the dogs first” is twofold:

    First: They are aggressive, control obsessed bullies. That’s why they joined SWAT in the first place. It seems that’s why most cops join the force, and these guys are the most aggressive of the aggressive.

    Second: They know full well that there will be no ramifications to their actions. They have full immunity from prosecution. The only ramifications they DO face are departmental discipline, which is easily circumvented by claiming “I was threatened by the dog” knowing full well that the OTHER officers will lie through their teeth to back them up.

    If you’re an officer that has worked hard to make the SWAT team, you’re going to want to stay there. As such, you’re not going to make yourself out to be an ‘attitude problem’ that ‘Isn’t a team player’ by ratting out a team member that gunned down a dog in cold blood. You’ll just hide behind the “Blue wall of silence” and back up what’s in the report.

    Along the same vein… a SWAT team member isn’t going to second guess the authority of the mission once it’s underway. Sure, that looks like the home of a law abiding, middle aged guy in the suburbs, there is no way they can destroy 32 pounds of weed, and there is no reason to think any violence will ensue. But what SWAT guy is gunna say “Wait guys! Is this a good raid? Perhaps we should just knock first and be nice?” NO! It’s “Get in there and hold the Mayor hostage for several hours!” … after shooting the dogs.

    It’s a military mentality that we do not need on our streets.

  22. #22 |  Andrew Williams | 

    “Yeah, hi, I got your call…yeah, I’m busting the Mayor right now for receiving a package of a controlled dangerous substance…Oh no, it’s just pot.”

    The mind boggles, reels, tries to regain balance, then boggles again.

    I’ve said it many times but oh it bears repeating:

    Fuck. Tha. Po. Lice.

    Further, deponent sayeth not.

  23. #23 |  Frank | 

    #13

    No, use the RICO statues to prosecute the deputies and officers, and the chief/sheriff as well. They certainly meet the definition of “Corrupt Organization”.

    #16

    One of these days we will be conducting the “Drug War Crimes Tribunal” in the high school gym in Nuremberg PA. We’ll start with the jackoffs who murdered Donald Scott on go on from there.

  24. #24 |  Art Carden | 

    But I thought “the innocent have nothing to fear” from ramped-up enforcement. Right? Right?

  25. #25 |  Stop It at Ninth Stage | 

    […] reason is that being on a dynamic entry team is exciting, gives the cops a relatively risk free adrenaline rush.  The reason they shoot dogs is because […]

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