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March 30, 2009

Maryland House Passes Mayor Calvo’s SWAT Bill by 126 to 9 Vote

by Stephen Littau

Despite the objections of the National Tactical Officers Association, the bill championed by Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo passed the Maryland House by a wide margin:

Delegates adopted a bill, on a 126 to 9 vote, that would require law enforcement agencies to report every six months on their use of SWAT teams, including what kinds of warrants the teams serve and whether any animals are killed during raids. The bill was prompted by the case of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo, whose two black Labrador retrievers were shot and killed during a botched raid by a Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team in July.

Calvo has said he was surprised to learn that police departments use the heavily armed units far more routinely than they once did but that it is difficult to get reliable statistics about SWAT raids. The Senate has passed a similar measure.

Here’s hoping that the differences in the House and Senate bills are ironed out, that the Governor has the good sense to sign this bill into law, and that the remaining 49 states will soon pass similar legislation.

H/T: Reason Hit & Run

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  • Don Lloyd

    What will it matter to increase the number of violations of law by police departments by one every 6 months?

    Even state legislators are not dumb enough to not associate their support of enforcement of this law with the number of times they are pulled over for a DUI check.

    Regards, Don

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org/ Stephen Littau

    Don,

    It matters because right now police departments are not being held accountable. If the police know they will have to answer to the people, perhaps they will be more judicious in their SWAT operations.

    As far as I’m concerned, this is only step one. I think there needs to be even more restrictions on how and when police use SWAT. I also believe that every SWAT member should be required to have a camera attached to their person to document the raid from their unique vantage point. This would make falsifying reports more difficult.

    Finally, I would also like to see citizen review boards complete with full subpoena powers investigate any event that results in the loss of life or property.

    This is only a partial list of reforms I would like to see but the additional oversight provided from the Maryland bill will be a wonderful first step.

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