Ex-Cop Chides Calvo for Questioning the Cops Who Nearly Killed Him

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Someone named Lawrence Schweinsburg wrote a letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun this week to criticize Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Mayor Cheye Calvo and to offer a general defense of the widespread use of SWAT teams. His letter is worth breaking down and addressing piece by piece.

To begin, as commenters at this site first discovered, Schweinsburg is a former police officer. Not only that, he spent the bulk of his career at the Prince George’s County Police Department, the same department that put up the gaudy SWAT numbers criticized in the article Schweinsberg is responding to. He later worked as the police chief for Crofton, Maryland. These are details you’d think Schweinsburg would have disclosed to the Sun or, if he did, that the Sun would have disclosed to its readers. They certainly provide some context for his opinions.

But let’s get to the letter itself.

Once again we are hearing from Mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights who seems to be determined to disband SWAT teams throughout Prince George’s County and perhaps the entire state (“Numbers paint portrait of SWAT team use,” Feb. 26).

Calvo has said no such thing, and in fact has said numerous times that there is a proper role for SWAT teams. His criticism is their increasing use to serve warrants for nonviolent crimes, and the fact that they’re too often the first option for warrant service instead of the last.

Mr. Calvo’s crusade is the result of one incident in Berwyn Heights in which a SWAT team, in a mistaken drug raid, killed his dogs.

Yes, the single raid at Calvo’s home is what got him interested in the issue. Understandably. But as he has explained in speeches and press interviews, he realized these tactics were an ongoing problem when he began asking around about other people victimized by these raids, and found numerous examples, including other examples in Prince George’s County, and other examples in and out of the county in which Maryland police officers shot and killed the dogs of people who had committed no crime.

If mistakes were made during the operation in Berwyn Heights, then those mistakes were no doubt identified and appropriate training and policy modifications put in place.

If Mr. Schweinsburg had read much at all on Calvo’s story before firing off his letter, he’d know that the most aggravating thing about the raid is that Prince George’s Officials—from County Executive Jack Johnson to Sheriff Michael Jackson—have stubbornly and shamelessly refused to admit that the police made a single mistake. The horrifying lesson to draw from that: It’s perfectly acceptable for the police to barge into a home of an innocent family without first doing any corroborating investigation, shoot and kill the family’s dogs, handcuff the home’s occupants for hours on end, lie about the circumstances leading up to, during, and after the raid, then refuse to turn over any information about the investigation and raid when the wrongly raided family requests to see it. No mistakes were identified because Jackson has determined none were made. No training and policy modifications will be put in place because Jackson doesn’t feel any are appropriate. This is why “micro-managing” SWAT teams is necessary. Because police and public officials have come to the mind-numbing conclusion that something as atrocious as the Calvo raid can occur . . . and yet still believe that no one made any mistakes.

Approximately 30 years ago, law enforcement agencies began to be established in reaction to serious challenges facing law enforcement. Police agencies wanted to ensure that the best, most highly trained officers were used for high-risk operations.

That was the original intent of SWAT teams as they were first formed in larger cities about 40 years ago. By the early 1980s, they were being formed in increasingly smaller cities and doubling and tripling up in larger cities because the Pentagon started giving away surplus military equipment to local police departments, and because politicians started using war rhetoric when discussing the need to up the ante with respect to drug prohibition. Soon, SWAT teams were training with military units, and federal grants tied directly to drug policing egged on the move toward more tactical units.

The goal was not only to enhance officer safety but also to increase the chances that victims and suspects would be recovered with as high a level of safety as possible.

You don’t enhance the safety of officers, suspects, and victims by creating violence where no violence existed prior to the deployment of the SWAT team. When SWAT teams are used to defuse an already violent situation, the passage excerpted above is apt. When they aggressively enter the home of a suspected drug offender, poker player, or other transgressor of a consensual crime, they’re creating confrontation, and inviting violence even from people who might not be otherwise inclined to use it. Invading someone’s home, usually as they’re sleeping, triggers the flight or fight response. And for most, flight isn’t an option. The idea that this is the safest way to serve routine warrants for everyone involved is absurd. These raids are violent even when all goes according to plan.

That goal has been met thousands of times throughout this state and the nation. SWAT training has become more and more sophisticated and effective. Critical Incident Response teams, including hostage negotiators, work with SWAT to try to ensure the best possible outcomes at high-risk incidents.

If that’s how SWAT teams were primarily used, we wouldn’t have an argument. But again, that isn’t how they’re primarily used.

Over the years it became apparent that narcotics raids were becoming more and more dangerous for officers. The old practice of a few patrol officers accompanying a few narcotics detectives on raids was not safe. Officers were encountering drug suspects who were heavily armed, often with weapons much more deadly than those carried by patrol officers.

There’s no evidence for this. As I documented in my Cato paper Overkill, in a 1991 Independence Institute study (published about a decade after the SWAT surge began) that surveyed dozens of cities, Dave Kopel and Eric Morgan found that less than 1 percent of weapons seized by police fit the definition of an “assault weapon.” They also found that less than 4 percent of  homicides nationwide were committed with a weapon other than a handgun. Finally, they found that less than one eighth of one percent of homicides were committed with a weapon of military caliber. Kopel and Morgan’s findings were essentially duplicated a decade later by a National Institute for Justice study commissioned just before the expiration of the assault weapons ban, which found that so-called assault weapons are almost never used by criminals. Moreover, surveys of no-knock raids done by newspapers over the years routinely show the vast majority of raids turn up no guns at all, and only a very, very small percentage turn up the sort of high-powered weaponry claimed by proponents of police militarization.

They were also encountering vicious dogs at many drug houses. The dogs were placed there by drug suspects for the purpose of hindering the execution of warrants and to hurt police officers, as well as to keep out competing drug dealers.

That may or may not be true. It rings true, but I haven’t seen any thorough research on the subject. That said, it isn’t an excuse for no-knock entry, which is only more likely to agitate the dogs. It also doesn’t explain why one officer can’t be charged with tranquilizing the dogs instead of killing them. It’s also no excuse fo the indiscriminate killing of dogs, regardless of whether or not they’re actually dangerous or aggressive.

In response to these new threats, law enforcement agencies began to employ SWAT teams on high-risk raids and warrant service operations. Once again, this increased the efficiency of the police operations and enhanced the safety of everyone involved, from citizens to officers to suspects.

Platitudes that aren’t backed by any actual data. It certainly didn’t enhance the safety of the 50 or so innocent people who have been killed during drug raids, or the at least 20 nonviolent offenders killed.  Or, for that matter, the dozens of police officers killed or wounded during these raids, including several who were shot by fellow officers. Getting in quick may help prevent your suspect from destroying his drug supply, but I just don’t buy that it enhances the safety of everyone involved. The margin for error is too thin, and the stakes are too high. Were police to serve drug warrants by knocking on doors and waiting suspects out, they might lose some arrests due to destroyed evidence, but even drug dealers know what happens to people who shot and kill cops. Seems to me cops are much more likely to get killed in the haze and confusion of a raid than a drug dealer who comes out guns blazing knowing there are police at the door.

The use of SWAT teams has provided law enforcement and the community with a resource that has been invaluable. Prior to this incident in Berwyn Heights, there had been no public outcry for anyone to micro-manage SWAT teams.

Well, there had, just not in Maryland. In Overkill, I document the outcry after at least a dozen botched SWAT raids in places like Denver, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and smaller cities and towns across the country. And of course there was the outcry in Atlanta after the 2006 drug raid death of 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston. And perhaps there would have been more outcry had the victims of prior raids in Maryland been someone with Calvo’s platform, instead of everyday folks like Cheryl Lynn Noel or Rick and Amato Johnson. That there was no mass public outcry doesn’t mean there wasn’t a problem.

Every year thousands of barricade and hostage incidents, as well as thousands of warrant raids, are carried out across the nation. Only a tiny percentage of those operations result in serious injuries to suspects, hostages or officers.

Several problems with this passage. First, we don’t know what percentage result in injuries because police departments aren’t required to record or report that information. Second, if SWAT teams were used properly—that is, too defuse already violent situations—you would expect high numbers of deployments to end in violence. That a high percentage of raids against low-level pot dealers don’t end in violence isn’t terribly surprising. Put another way, if we started using SWAT teams to apprehend people who are overdue paying their parking tickets, I suspect an even smaller percentage of those raids would end in violence. That doesn’t mean it’s a proper use of SWAT teams.  And overall, due to the volatile nature of these raids we’d still see a total increase in the total number of people hurt or killed in SWAT raids, just as we’ve seen as SWAT teams have been deployed en masse to apprehend low-level drug offenders.

Third, I’ve documented hundreds of cases in which a SWAT team entered a home and terrorized an innocent person or an innocent family. In fact, the Calvo case would fit Schweinsburg’s categorization of raids that inflict no “serious injuries to suspects, hostages or officers.”Schweinsburg may not believe what happened to Calvo and his mother-in-law is noteworthy, but just about everyone who has never worn a badge feels differently. The terror associated with these raids causes harm even if no one goes to the hospital.

Finally, even if there were no physical injuries or deaths from SWAT raids on nonviolent drug suspects, and even it the cops got the correct house every time,  it doesn’t mean that sending cops dressed as soldiers into private homes to terrorize nonviolent offenders is a state action we ought to tolerate. That only a small percentage end in death or serious injury is beside the point.

When that does occur it is almost always as a result of the actions of the suspects which require the officers to use some level of force.

I’ve seen no empirical data showing this to be true. I’ve documented dozens of cases in which innocent people have been killed or wounded in these raids due to police error. And once again, from throwing occupants to the floor, to pointing guns at them, to the use of flashbang grenades, these raids are violent by their very nature.. Schwiensburg’s wording in the passage above would also include people who’ve committed no crime, or had no intention of causing violence, but understandably mistook the police for criminal intruders and acted in home or self defense.  The blame for the violence in those cases lies with the police tactics, not with the suspects. When you’re using tactics designed to confuse and disorient the people in the house you’re raiding, you can’t then turn around and blame them when, disoriented and confused, they mistake the police for invading criminals.

SWAT officers are among the most dedicated, professional and highly-trained members of law enforcement, and they face the most dangerous situations regularly. They are not just people who “dress up in military gear and kick in doors.”

This is just empty, lofty rhetoric. I’m sure some SWAT officers meet this description. I’m sure some don’t. I’ve been told by cops that many don’t. Even it were true, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t demand accountability and transparency from them. And if they’re as professional as Scheweinsburg describes them, they should be more than happy to submit themselves to public scrutiny.

Perhaps if Mayor Calvo had ever had to face such danger he would understand.

Schweinsburg saves his most callous, oblivious comment for last. Calvo has faced such danger. He faced it when a bunch of armed idiots stormed his house and indiscriminately fired off rounds into his Labradors. He thought he was being invaded. If he’d had a gun in his home for self protection, he’d almost certainly be dead. That the danger in Calvo’s instance came from incompetent cops instead of thuggish drug dealrs wouldn’t have made him any less dead. The utter tone-deafness of this line from Schweinsburg is appalling. How dare this mayor question the cops who nearly killed him. It suggests that all cops, no matter what they do, should be immune from public scrutiny. It’s similar to a letter in response to Calvo’s case from a Milwaukee cop that we saw in National Review a while back. No empathy whatsoever. You get the feeling they believe Calvo ought to thank the Prince George’s deputies for having the courtesy not to kill him.

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92 Responses to “Ex-Cop Chides Calvo for Questioning the Cops Who Nearly Killed Him”

  1. #1 |  Brian | 

    Excellent takedown of a disgusting letter to the editor.

  2. #2 |  Troy | 

    Awesome analysis.

  3. #3 |  zendingo | 

    well said! the truth speaks volumes…….

  4. #4 |  Scott | 

    You are doing the Lord’s work (and I say that as an atheist). Better to light up one fascist than curse the darkness.

  5. #5 |  BMB | 

    You get the feeling they believe Calvo ought to thank the Prince George’s deputies for having the courtesy not to kill him.

    Umm…pretty much that. Yeah.

  6. #6 |  Nando | 

    I hope this idiot gets a visit from the SWAT team on a mistaken home raid (but I hope his dogs stay alive if he has them). I just want him to go through the humiliation and THEN write a letter commending the officers and saying how everything was textbook and proper, according to procedure.

  7. #7 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Schweinsburg.

    “Schwein” means “pig.”

    How fucking awesome is that?

    So he’s a former cop. Is he a former coward? I’m guessing not. I’m guessing he still pisses his pants at ths sight of a chihuahua.

  8. #8 |  jeebus | 

    Bravo. Well said.

    It honestly comes down to Lord Acton’s axiom on power and corruption and these people have way too much power and wield it with absolute impudence. I despair at when, or if, the public will ever realize this.

    Keep up the good work Radley. You’re the reason I subscribe to, err, Reason

  9. #9 |  Kevin | 

    Jesus, Radley. That was awesome.

  10. #10 |  Jeremy | 

    You are a hero, Radley. Keep up the excellent work.

  11. #11 |  InMD | 

    Well said. I think that half of the battle on this would be won if not for the institutional arrogance that seems to pervade police departments faced with criticism.

  12. #12 |  Highway | 

    I know it would lose something in condensing, but is there any chance of getting a version of this in the Sun as a response to that letter?

  13. #13 |  Over the River | 

    Very well done!

  14. #14 |  JD | 

    I saw something else I think is telling. “They were also encountering vicious dogs at many drug houses.” In other words, SWAT teams _expect_ dogs. They don’t, however, take any particular precautions because of this, as far as I can tell. In other words, Schweinsburg is saying they know they’ll encounter dogs, and they don’t have a plan for dealing with this other than “start shooting”.

  15. #15 |  Jim Chrystal | 

    Great analysis. Thanks for taking the time to pen this.

  16. #16 |  pam | 

    I don’t see much difference between drinking wine and smoking pot. I’m confused, drug raids, SWAT teams, war on drugs, prisons overflowing, dead dogs, orphaned children, I just don’t get it. I mean, I enjoy my wine, why shouldn’t someone be able to enjoy their pot? What’s the panic about? I suppose if wine became illegal I would want to find a supplier, I mean I wouldn’t count it out. That would make me and the supplier a criminal. I don’t feel like a criminal but suddenly I would be one and the supplier probably isn’t a criminal or bad person either. The whole thing is absurd. It’s like a national nightmare. Maybe we should go back to the beginning. What a mess.

  17. #17 |  divadab | 

    @Pam – I agree – prohibition of cannabis is Tyranny, pure and simple. The state has no business interfering in private behavior. It’s my body, not the government’s!

  18. #18 |  J sub D | 

    Please tell me you CCed the Baltimore Sun with this excellent response to an odious letter to the editor.

  19. #19 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #17 J sub D

    Please tell me you CCed the Baltimore Sun with this excellent response to an odious letter to the editor.

    Exactly what I was going to suggest. They might not print it, but it sure would provide them with a little balance. And who knows, they might be a little miffed that the writer didn’t spell out his connection with the issue, instead pretending to be an unbiased voice of the community.

  20. #20 |  J sub D | 

    I admire your restraint, Radley.

    Any response i would have made woulve been rife with profane and obscene language sprinkled with a healthy dose of gratuitous insults disparaging the manhood, intelligence, and circumstances of birth of Lawrence Schweinsburg.

    While I’m very proficient at that form of communication, it doesn’t play well in Peoria. Hell, it doesn’t play well in polite company anywhere. ;-)

  21. #21 |  CEH | 

    Excellent response Radley….I, like many other seasoned LEOs, agree with you.

  22. #22 |  A.G. Pym | 

    Thank you, Radley. Now I’m all riled up for my afternoon meeting – a good thing, I think.

  23. #23 |  Marty | 

    I’ve witnessed properly executed swat teams a few times and was impressed- these guys were in harm’s way and did a great job. they were very pumped up and clearly ready, able, and willing to shoot. I can’t imagine facing this force because I was playing poker or smoking weed… it’s amazing more people/cops/dogs aren’t killed or injured.

  24. #24 |  Mattocracy | 

    This cop needs to be on the receiving end of SWAT Raid in the middle of the night. Maybe he’d change his toon after his dogs were killed and he was charged with murder for defending his home from intruders.

  25. #25 |  Jason | 

    I agree with the two above posters, you need to submit this and see if they will print your rebuttal.

  26. #26 |  Mattocracy | 

    toon equals tune by the way.

  27. #27 |  David | 

    It suggests that all cops, no matter what they do, should be immune from public scrutiny.

    Suggests? That’s exactly what he’s saying. “How dare the ungrateful public question how we provide their safety?” and “How dare they accuse a good cop of X for some scumbag?” are the default position whenever an officer is accused of something.

  28. #28 |  Sean L. | 

    Dude, you rock!

  29. #29 |  Sean L. | 

    They might as well just quote a movie:
    “I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post.”

  30. #30 |  nemo | 

    Institutionalized arrogance. On the part of a former, putative ‘civil servant’. Which is mirrored across the country in far too many police departments. An attitude that condones unlawful deaths of their paymasters, their paymaster’s children and family pets as perfectly acceptable and un-noteworthy ‘collateral damage’.

    Any wonder why the knowledgeable public shies away from involving the police in anything? And any wonder why the police feel increasingly ostracized in their own communities?

    Thank drug prohibition…and its’ enablers.

  31. #31 |  Aresen | 

    I’d love to hear Lawrence Schweinsburg’s letter read aloud by the late Danny Kaye dressed up in one of the outfits he would use when parodying military officers.

  32. #32 |  Kristen | 

    This cop needs to be on the receiving end of SWAT Raid in the middle of the night.

    Wouldn’t take much. Just become an anonymous “informant”. They’re willing to believe anything anyone says when raiding places like Kathryn Johnston’s house – why not this guy’s?

  33. #33 |  Steve Verdon | 

    These are details you’d think Schweinsburg would have disclosed to the Sun or, if he did, that the Sun would have disclosed to its readers. They certainly provide some context for his opinions.

    Interesing. I read that and I thought,”….hmmmm, there is another blogger who watches Radley’s posts and articles like a hawk. Any factual error said blogger pounces on them like a jaguar going after a peccry…I wonder if he’ll see this article note this inconsistency and send a letter to the relevant editor/omsbudsman/what-have-you?”

  34. #34 |  Whim | 

    #23 Marty:

    Actually, SWAT team members should be anything BUT pumped up.

    Police should stay relaxed, and listen. They are dealing with the public, not assaulting an enemy pillbox.

    Or, do they think they are assaulting an enemy position, i.e. a civilian’s residence?

  35. #35 |  Laura Victoria | 

    The war on drugs is certainly at the root of the problem with the SWAT raids, but police arrogance and unaccountability extends to middle-aged women being stopped and harassed, tased for expired plates. I think most of Radely’s fans here and at Reason, understand the essence of the problem. The left supports the cops because their union thugs, the right supports them because they’re phony law and order thugs.

    So what is the solution that is achievable politically. I live in Los Cabos, Mexico. The difference here in how the cops behave is night and day. There are no cop unions–the public would never allow it, and the President has complete control over them, not the other way around. They’re not allowed even to enter the driveway of a home without a warrant. One day, a neighbor was being followed by a local cop as he drove into my our condo complex. The security guard did the little Mexican “no, no” finger wag and closed the gate on the cop, and the cop didn’t say a word because he couldn’t–our guard was in the right.

    So, as I see it, we need to eliminate unionization and we need to radically reform or abolish qualified immunity. We can’t allow the local DAs to either prosecute individuals in any questionable police actions, nor allow those local prosecutors to (not) make charging decisions against the cops.

    I have been trying to call Baltimore Sun Ed. page editor, and I have a call into the byzantine self-promotion creation that is the Minneapolis PD. I previously talked to the smug scum at St. George’s county. Their local press are usually lapdogs–and this was also my same experience in Colorado. They don’t seem to care about outside media.

    Please, Radley and bloggers here. What do you think can be done? I keep repeating this question because I fear the answer is nothing. Bi-partisan support is alive and thriving in the pig-proection racket.

    It is particularly frustrating for me when the same conservatives who decry teachers union and SEIU scum, can’t seem to see that cops aren’t some government union GEDs magically sent from above who can do no wrong and merit exempt from the appropriate criticism these LE conservatives level at the other government entitlement holders.

    HELP! I will never step foot in the US again until this is done, and I want to go to New York to see some Broadway theatre some time in the next 20 years.

  36. #36 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Simply an awesome example of the divide between cops (and badge lickers) and sanity.

  37. #37 |  Laura Victoria | 

    Sorry for my typos, editing errors and desperate rant. I see that the title of this blog has a double-meaning, as I am so agitated every time I read these stories I think I’m about to have a stroke, even though I’m safely ensconced in the sundrenched land of beautiful beaches, where dogs run through the sand and splash in the waves, cops are nice and friendly, and margaritas can be held in to-go cups while strolling the quaint colonial streets.

    If no one has any ideas, I’d be happy to provide pro bono assistance about how you can move down here too. Even conservatives here think of the US as “one big prison.”

  38. #38 |  Marlon Perkins | 

    It also doesn’t explain why one officer can’t be charged with tranquilizing the dogs instead of killing them.

    Hi, this is Marlon Perkins. While Jim wrassles that pair of alligators into submission, let me take time out to explain to you that the fancy editing we use here on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom skips over all the boring minutes we have to wait before one of our tranquilized animals lies down and takes a nap — minutes during which he’d be gnawing our legs like a bucket o’ chicken if we were foolish enough to expose ourselves to him. Also, we have carefully calibrate our dose of anesthetic to the real or estimated weight of the animal before delivering it, so our four-legged friends don’t end up either dead or still a threat to us.

  39. #39 |  Matthew | 

    That was incredibly well said. Like others have said, you really should submit this to the Baltimore Sun.

  40. #40 |  MikeL | 

    I don’t mean to threadjack but unfortunately I’m not quite smart enough to figure out where to e-mail tips. Anyway, here is a story about the NYPD and quotas:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/investigators&id=7305356

    Sorry again for the threadjack.

  41. #41 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    The war on drugs is certainly at the root of the problem with the SWAT raids, but police arrogance and unaccountability extends to middle-aged women being stopped and harassed, tased for expired plates.

    SWAT raids would be happening if there were no drugs and SWAT teams don’t care if you’re up for murder or jay-walking. “Just following orders” is the mantra of The Fist. It insulates them in some bizarre way that makes sense only to the guilty, politicians, and morally bankrupt.

  42. #42 |  AxiomThree | 

    Damn fine work, Radley, thank you.

  43. #43 |  MikeL | 

    Crap … I just saw the e-mail link to the left. In my defense, I did admit I wasn’t very smart in the last post.

  44. #44 |  Michael Chaney | 

    Laura nails the problem – labor unions. I always point this out to conservatives to give them a different perspective.

  45. #45 |  JOR | 

    #39

    Exactly. The root problem isn’t the drug war (though that’s a big problem of its own); the root problem is the pigs themselves – their little tribal subculture of self-worship, entitlement, and thuggery – and the way mainstream culture (such as it is) falls for all their fairy tales and reverts to hero worship.

  46. #46 |  J sub D | 

    Sorry again for the threadjack.

    And you should be. That was the first time anypne has dared post an off topic comment here at The Agitator.

    ;-)

  47. #47 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #38 MikeL

    I don’t mean to threadjack but unfortunately I’m not quite smart enough to figure out where to e-mail tips. Anyway, here is a story about the NYPD and quotas:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/investigators&id=7305356

    From the link:

    “I’m not going to keep arresting innocent people, I’m not going to keep searching people for no reason, I’m not going to keep writing people for no reason, I’m tired of this,” said Adil Polanco, an NYPD Officer.

    So, how the hell did this guy slip through the screening process?

  48. #48 |  AFF | 

    Excellent work Sir

  49. #49 |  Marty | 

    #34 | Whim | March 3rd, 2010 at 5:17 pm
    #23 Marty:

    I agree with everything you’re saying, wholeheartedly. maybe I need to state my position clearer. The swat teams around here do more training than deploying. They don’t see a lot of ‘real’ calls, so when they’re deployed, they are pumped up- lots of adrenaline. I feel this is a big reason they shouldn’t be utilized for calls other than hostage situations, etc. these guys are on edge, sending them into houses serving warrants is horribly dangerous because of this (and all the other reasons people shouldn’t break into homes).

    I think we’re on the same side of this issue.

  50. #50 |  Marty | 

    ‘So, how the hell did this guy slip through the screening process?’

    that’s what the ‘normal’ cops are wondering right about now!

  51. #51 |  MikeL | 

    #45

    When I read that quote my first thought was “what took so long?” My second thought was “now let’s talk about those innocent people you arrested and how you plan on getting them out of jail?”

  52. #52 |  MikeL | 

    #47

    Unfortunately, I tend to think that the average cop is having far more sinister thoughts than that.

  53. #53 |  Aresen | 

    Dave Krueger | March 3rd, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    So, how the hell did this guy slip through the screening process?

    Oh, it’s all right.

    They will just put him up front during the next SWAT raid and there will be a ‘tragic accident’.

    ;)

  54. #54 |  Chris Mallory | 

    #47
    I think the screening process went like this:

    Drill Sergeant: Gump! What’s your sole purpose in this army?
    Forrest Gump: To do whatever you tell me, drill sergeant!
    Drill Sergeant: God damn it, Gump! You’re a god damn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted, Private Gump. Listen up, people…

  55. #55 |  MikeL | 

    Dammit! My comment @ #51 should have been directed at Dave Krueger @ #47. My comment @ #52 should have been directed at Marty @ #50. I don’t know whats wrong with me today. Clearly, I fail at the internet … I quit.

  56. #56 |  Wavemancali | 

    Great pick apart of the article. Keep it up.

    Threadjack:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_14504898?source=rss

    Video beating and still no charges. Soon they won’t get charged when we video them killing people.

  57. #57 |  BamBam | 

    #56, they already get away with murdering people despite video and many witnesses.

    When will it be enough and people rise up and make these bastards fear for their lives EVERY SINGLE TIME they go out on a call?

  58. #58 |  Charlie O | 

    Well, DUHHHHHH. This guy’s attitude is exactly the attitude of nearly every cop, ATF agent, FBI, you name it, shit head with a badge in the US. And I’ve been saying it here and elsewhere for as long as I can remember. I used to post on a LE website. It drove the fuckwads crazy to the point you had to be verified as LE to post there. And I got to tell you, the responses to my posts were vile, violent, and all, absolutely 100% of the responders had the same attitude. How dare I, a mere citizen, question or criticize anything these small dick wonders did. I was threatened with home invasion, rape, murder, murder of family. All from so-called enforcers and protectors of “the law.” The best thing I’ve ever read about LEOs was right here. And I tell it to every cop I come in contact with. Thanks to whomever it was that said it first. “I would piss in your mouth if your lungs were fire.”

  59. #59 |  Guido | 

    Fantastic breakdown Radley. Well done.
    Schweinsburg is a typical robot douche cop.
    Attention LEO’s reading this:
    Being a threating menace to citizens does not command respect. Respect is earned not demanded from the barrel of a gun. You command fear not respect. Understand the difference. You are not heroes. You are government empoyees who work FOR the people. Nothing else.

  60. #60 |  Frank | 

    @24 This is not likely to happen. The “Thin Blue Line” license plates and stickers on this pig’s car will signal to the other gang members that he’s part of the “Only Ones” and he’ll get the preferred treatment denied to Mayor Calvo.

  61. #61 |  Frank | 

    @58 There used to be a cop (or cop wannabe) on the usenet group talk.politics.guns that was the stereotypical badass cop. During the month of December he would end his posts with “Seasons Beatings.”

    Nice guy. Never did find out what department Sgt. (c)Rock worked for.

  62. #62 |  Warren | 

    Remember, this is this guy’s BEST judgment; this is how he thinks, what he is capable of thinking. By capable I mean both the upper limit of his reasoning ability but also his capacity for empathy. Not just him but plenty of other cops.

    If this is the best thinking they can do, why are they allowed to be in any sort of authority? How can anything they say or do be trusted? All of their actions are open to be second-guessed. And they do not realize or do not care which makes them even less competent. It’s all downhill from there. They cannot be trusted with power.

    As a free-market anarchist I know all this already, I’m glad that it is seeping out into the wider world. Eventually they will lose all their support and then what?

    That will be an interesting time.

    Continuing with that theme….

    @56

    1 and 20 everyday times however many are working plus whoever was disgusted by this news report….equals a whole lot of pissed off potential jurors.

    It takes 12 to convict but only one to hang a jury.

    I would love to see if the conviction rates are going down or hung jury rates are going up because of this idiotic policy.

    Also, I wonder if the cops there get pissed off when they need help form the residents and don’t get it. Do they understand why that is?

  63. #63 |  Mrs. C | 

    In memory of my son…Dr. Salvatore J. Culosi…who was shot and killed…by a Fairfax County SWAT officer…on January 24, 2006.

    It has been almost 3 years…since we filed our suit…and are presently…waiting for a trial date…as we keep a promise to Sal.

    God bless you Radley…for all you do…in speaking out…and keeping the public aware…of the countless…botched SWAToperations…that have terrorized people…taken lives unnecessarily…and destroyed families.

    You are a very special young man…and your response was excellent.

    http://www.justiceforsal.com

  64. #64 |  Michael Chaney | 

    To continue Laura’s theme up there, Bill O’Reilly gets really tripped up on his conservative quandary – “cops are always heroes” vs. “cops are part of the government that may harm your rights”. He had the guy from Oathkeepers on a couple of weeks ago and basically said the guy was nuts for wanting to obey the Constitution.

    Someone put this great video together showing O’Reilly taking the opposite side of the argument after Katrina. Just watch:

    http://gatewaypundit.firstthings.com/2010/03/dueling-bill-oreillys-he-was-for-gun-rights-before-he-was-against-gun-rights-video/

  65. #65 |  million | 

    there you go using reason, statistics, and facts again. silly taxpayer.

  66. #66 |  G-Man | 

    As a former fed, I have to rebut some of the things the cop-hating fraction of this comment stream has posted.

    First, PG county’s use of force is indefensible. It is sickening to me that they would use SWAT to serve a warrant on a non-violent offender. That the letter-writer would conflate hostage rescue situations with serving a warrant on a basement pot grower tells me that he probably never saw a hostage situation.

    Now, all that being said, cops in general are not the problem. The vast majority I have met and served with genuinely want to help and protect people, and care about doing it the right way. I wasn’t on a SWAT team, but I have cleared a couple of houses, and it was not something that I enjoyed or looked forward to. The guys who do it for a living (at least the ones I knew) had ice water in their veins. They were cool, calm professionals at all times. I doubt any one of them would have allowed a raid such as the one on Calvo to occur, and they certainly wouldn’t have discharged a firearm unless their life was threatened.

    If you want to blame someone, blame the individuals and the department for their attitudes (and I would argue corruption). PG County, for those who don’t know, is notorious around DC for high crime and terrible police. Guys who can’t get hired by DC metro (hardly one of the best in the nation) go across the river to get a job. It’s nice to see that this guy continues that tradition of excellence. I would say a top-to-bottom housecleaning is needed over there to completely change the culture.

  67. #67 |  Aresen | 

    Bless you, Mrs. C.

  68. #68 |  Audrey the Liberal | 

    #64: Bill O’Reilly is for white gun rights. Duh.

  69. #69 |  chuck | 

    If you can stomach it i suggest watching “Worlds largerst street gang”. its pretty terrible and heart wrenching but this is the reality we live in today where police are held above a normal citizen.

  70. #70 |  chuck | 

    Largest* sorry

  71. #71 |  Cynical in CA | 

    Assuming you are who you say you are, G-Man, blow it out your ass.

    All cops are cowards and bottom feeders.

    When stories such as the ones that come out of Prince George County become the rarest of exceptions, so much so that it takes virtually no effort for the citizenry to squash the evildoers, I will rethink my point of view. Until then, it’s war between private citizens and the blue mafia — a war begun by cops.

  72. #72 |  good luck | 

    #66

    You can say whatever you like, but the bottom line is that these abuses will continue for as long as they are allowed to continue.

    Whenever exceptional law enforcement officers break the blue wall of silence they’re quickly drummed out of their departments or otherwise neutralized or marginalized, so the argument that there are just a few bad apples carries no weight until the rest of the “good ones” stand up and refuse to work (and perhaps even arrest, although that is probably overly Panglossian) with these anti-American power junkie maniacs. Until then the good ones are just as guilty as those they shield in my opinion.

    Unfortunately it looks like it will be up to the people to stop these abusive home invaders as the local, state, and federal governments are not interested in decreasing their power to do whatever they want, whenever they want. And the wealthy and the corporations who ultimately own the governments and both major political parties have no interest in decreasing their pets’ powers.

    In my opinion, the situation is beginning to openly deteriorate to the point where it will become analogous to the British occupiers before they drove us to take action in their particular case.

    There will be more widespread civil disturbances to come as the systemic strip mining of the economy over the last three decades becomes apparent to even the most ardent uncritical flag-wavers, at least so far as I can see. And sooner or later there will be an atrocity committed against unarmed demonstrators, which will lead to more demonstrations, which will lead to more atrocities, etc. etc. And we all know where that ends, especially in a well-armed country like the USofA.

    In a dark and cynical sense I welcome new abuses because they hasten the day that must come if we want to regain even the semblance of freedom in this country. But personally I intend to stay clear of the violence and profit as much as possible from the ensuing chaos. When there’s blood in the streets and all that.

    I hope that I am wrong though.

  73. #73 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Now, all that being said, cops in general are not the problem.

    So long as they abide by the “code of silence/thin blue line” mentality then yes, they are part of the problem. The enable bad cops to remain on the force and engage in bad behavior which undermines the public’s support of law enforcement. This is a bad thing on many different levels. To be so tone deaf to it suggests that you yourself are part of the problem as well.

    The vast majority I have met and served with genuinely want to help and protect people, and care about doing it the right way.

    I’m sure they do, but when they see wrong doing and corruption within their ranks how many of them do nothing out of a misplaced sense of loyalty or out of fear of retalitation? You know the saying about evil, all it takes is for good men to do nothing.

    ….and they certainly wouldn’t have discharged a firearm unless their life was threatened.

    Bravo sierra. Standard operating procedure: shoot the dog. So they would indeed shoot even when their life is not endanger.

    If you want to blame someone, blame the individuals and the department for their attitudes (and I would argue corruption).

    You mean the culture and rhetoric has absolutely nothing to do with it? Like that we are “at war”? That there are LEOs and there are the rest of the people? The “think blue line” mentality? Bravo sierra again, I’m afraid. It isn’t just individuals or a failure of training and such, it is a failure of the culture and the mindset that has been engendered in police officers. Look at your own post you can see its presence there.

    You are part of the problem. You need to look at what you are doing and think if it is evil or not. Initiating force against someone who has not initiated force against you or someone else is evil. Initiating force against another for their own good is utterly despicable and something you’d see in a authoritarian regime. I know you’ll like think I’m full of crap and just leave, but until you consider what you do and how you do it, you are part of the problem.

  74. #74 |  Ray | 

    Hmm, Well written. Expose the impostors, here we go again, We hire Mercenaries to look for and stamp out severe Career Criminals and then, the powers that be, misuse those Privateers, in a manner which is inconsistent with the Law, law, or LAW and then instead of voting the bums out or Firing them for Misfeasance,Malfeasance, or Nonfeasance we as a Citizen Nationals or even as a Corporate Foreign State Residents demand to know and figure out what went wrong. Question Why do we continue to revisit something that is OUR problem? Is it because we as a civil people have become so lazy that we have to hire everything done for us, to the highest bidder. These men obviously have a job to do and getting killed in the line of duty isnt my idea of a good day on the job. Some one was more than likely misled to a (Fraud of the mind) situation in which they believed a lie. However these men acting on that Lie did what they had to do, when confronted with not knowing what else to believe. I think I, in this situation would Attack in a manner that was appropriate to what best intel stated. Oh and by the way I am usually very critical of POLICY ENFORCEMENT AGENT PERSONNEL But more critical of Judges who let them get away with it. Let me remind you, if they do not have stripes on there sleeves, they are not officers and have to verify all moves with Sargent and Lieutenant, Captain Rank. But ultimately, they are responsible to the Civil Rule.

  75. #75 |  Sheri | 

    Thank you.

  76. #76 |  LivingPre911Still | 

    Awesome take down… the verbal equivalent of a knee in the back, face mashed to the pavement while twisting the cuffs to maximize the pain and humiliation…

    However… there can be no officer designated with a tranquilizer gun for the simple reason that tranquilizers are not instantaneous… someone in charge of the dog or dogs is a good option… proper padding and a noose/snare… Officers could wear snake proof leggins which don’t allow teeth to penetrate… put that over tin skin clothing.

  77. #77 |  Archie1954 | 

    I read a while ago that a farming family were invaded by a swat team putting the farmer, his wife and children through hell. Their criminal act? Selling unpasturized milk to neighbours. What about the widow of a famous hollywood doctor who lived in a castle in Hidden Valley, California? She and her two 15 year old daughters were blasted awake in the middle of the night by an LA swat team that were all dressed in black with balaclavas. The woman trying to protect her daughters, shot at the raiders and was blasted in return. She survived and sued. She received a large settlement but it never made up for the terror they were put through. Apparently two of her hired help who lived in a small house on her property were pot smokers. She not know about it as the caretakers cottage was not in direct view of the big house. There are also numerous cases of police planting evidence. Civilian control of par military forces has diminished in recent years and has to be reinsituted.

  78. #78 |  Dave | 

    Responses to the responses:

    Laura Victoria: I have recently traveled in many countries around the world, and while the majority of people may not quite consider the USA one giant prison, that isn’t far off the mark. I met a number of people who are appalled at what passes for good governance in the USA, and an Australian made his apologies while informing me that Australians tend to think of Americans as stupid. (The joke here is that AUSTRALIANS think Americans are stupid.) Of course, it isn’t so much that Americans are stupid as that we have a policy of deliberately miseducating the public, but it still speaks volumes.

    G-Man: I am also concerned at the indiscriminate cop-bashing. Mind you, there’s a lot of cop-bashing that needs to be done, but it should not be indiscriminate. I have met a few principled police officers, and many more who are trying to do the right thing but aren’t sure what that is. We should not confuse those with the cowards and criminals that hide behind a badge.

  79. #79 |  TC | 

    Lawrence Schweinsburg….. A fine example of the GED requirement to become a gun toting badge packin enforcer.

    Haven’t we already determined that “following orders” is NOT a valid defense?

  80. #80 |  Steve Finlay | 

    Is Lawrence Schweinsburg for real, or was his letter a really incompetent April Fools joke, in the wrong month? I’m fairly sure that his name means “city of pigs”, which is a pretty amazing coincidence.

  81. #81 |  Warren | 

    @69

    I watched that video, and it was disgusting. The sad thing is, even at an hour long it would take hundreds of these videos to capture all the abuses that happen.
    http://fluxview.com/USA/Worlds-Largest-Street-Gang

    I don’t believe that I ever heard of the thing in Minn/St.Paul. My search-fu is weak and I cannot find anything on it anywhere.

  82. #82 |  G-Man | 

    Totally unrelated to my previous post, any cop named “Schweinsburg” should immediately resign and / or petition for a name change.

    BTW, there’s a reason I am a FORMER fed. It has everything to do with how the place is run, and I don’t mean the elected portion of the management.

  83. #83 |  ezrydn | 

    Didn’t SWAT originate out of the North Hollywood Bank Holdup? How did we get from that to SWAT endangering children and killing animals? SWAT seems to be made up of people with no care, really, for others. The leave the mess they made and head for the local cop bar to raise bottles to their “good day.” I would imagine the SS did the same thing in Germany.

    Yes, there’s a place for SWAT. As in the Hollywood robbery. But to unleash them on unsuspecting citizens within their own homes is simply unacceptable. They’ve turned into a bunch of hired murderers.

  84. #84 |  Roundup – Gone with the Pope « The Heat Death Hour | 

    […] Ex-Cop Chides Calvo for Questioning the Cops who Nearly Killed Him [The Agitator] […]

  85. #85 |  Heath Jay Mannix | 

    Scott #4 – you rocked it – “Better to light up one fascist than to curse the darkness” Get that put on T-shirts or bumper stickers and I’ll buy one.
    People wonder why more and more cops are perceived as gutless thugs who only have balls when they strap them on along with their Big Bad Macho Man body armor.
    Well – surprise – a lot of us think of our dogs as family – and a lot of us are combat vets who would have NO qualms about putting down some nazi-dressed armed bastard who raided our home or harmed our animals. I would suggest to any jack booted thugs who think that they are the right hand of allah – to be real f*ing careful whose doors they kick on, unless they want to learn what we old geezers call ‘beaucoup seven six two.”

  86. #86 |  SteveinSoCAL | 

    G-Man – I agree with most of what you said in #66. I consider police, in general, to be an extension of my desire to live in peace. They are OUR police. I disagree with: “If you want to blame someone, blame the individuals and the department for their attitudes . . .”
    Instead I blame myself, and my fellow citizens.
    We have a government supposedly by, of, and for the people. Someone said (too tired to look it up now): The price of freedom is eternal vigilance (close enough).
    Sadly, most seem to want to set some rule or procedure in place, and think they’re done with it. We have to remain in control, vigilant. As soon as we stop, someone else will fill the void. History repeatedly shows the results of that are often very bad.

    Many here seem to be very polarized, and of course, the site is called theagitator.

    I would suggest that there are some that would benefit from being able to drive a wedge between the people, and their own police. I doubt that they are very nice, or have our best interests in mind. If the wedge were effective enough, we would become just like many of the other countries I have been to. In many places the police/military are little more than tools to control the population, rather than serve them. Some places may be getting like that here in the US, but not most, not yet.

    Radley – great rebuttal! I read Schweinsburg’s letter first, and was tempted to reply to it. You’ve done a much better job than I probably would have.
    We do have to regain control, and keep it.

  87. #87 |  Givemeliberty! | 

    What kind of judge gives a warrant on such crappy affidavide of probablecause .Theres more wrong here than meets the eye.

  88. #88 |  Joe M | 

    Excellant article. Concur with sending this to the Sun. My only suggestion would be to add something about others victims like Ryan Frederick, convicted recently for self defense during a raid.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-536-Civil-Liberties-Examiner~y2009m2d5-Police-raid-victim-convicted-for-act-of-self-defense

  89. #89 |  George Orwell | 

    “Men sleep peacefully in their beds at night
    because rough men stand ready
    to do violence on their behalf.”

    George Orwell

  90. #90 |  Bob Baker | 

    The war on Drugs/People is an excellent cash cow for all those on the take.

  91. #91 |  Yogi Charles | 

    I have been following this incident involving Mayo Calvo since the story broke on CNN in August of 2008. If Sheriff Jackson and his fellow officers think people will eventually forget and get beyond this incident, he needs to think again if he has the mental capacity to do so.

    I am aghast at the polarization in this country between the police and ordinary law abiding citizens. I have never been in trouble with the law but at this time I am more afraid of the police than I am of criminals. I drive with my wallet on my dashboard in case I do get stopped by a police office, hopefully, I will not get shot because the police officer thinks I am going for a gun while showing my driver’s license!

    As a yogi, I believe in Karma. The poor, innocent dogs that were shot by the SWAT officers will never have to be reborn as they have learned their lessons very well. The SWAT officers involved in the shooting will be reborn many times as they have failed to learn their lessons.

    Thank you for reading.

    Charles

  92. #92 |  Yet Who Would Have Thought The Old Dog To Have So Much Blood In Him? | Popehat | 

    […] on the other hand, don’t have to shut up.  This could never happen to me. I’m a white male lawyer of good family and reputation, not an old black lady.  So I’ll […]

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