Mayor Cheye Calvo got home from work, saw a package addressed to his wife on the front porch and brought it inside, putting it on a table.
Suddenly, police with guns drawn kicked in the door and stormed in, shooting to death the couple's two dogs and seizing the unopened package.
In it were 32 pounds of marijuana. . . . Calvo . . . said police apparently killed [his dogs] "for sport," gunning down one of them as it was running away.
"Our dogs were our children," said Calvo, 37. "They were the reason we bought this house, because it had a big yard for them to run in." . . .
The mayor, who was changing his clothes when police burst in, also complained that he was handcuffed in his boxer shorts for about two hours, along with his mother-in-law, and said the officers didn't believe him when he told them he was the mayor.
Equally troubling is the fact that:
Prince George's County Police Chief Melvin High . . . defended the way the raid was conducted. He and other officials did not apologize for killing the dogs, saying the officers felt threatened.
He said this despite admitting "that Calvo and his family were "most likely ... innocent victims." A later statement disavowed any implication of guilty or connection to the case.
The Washington Post reports:
Calvo described a chaotic scene, in which he -- wearing only underwear and socks -- and his mother-in-law were handcuffed and interrogated for hours. They were surrounded by the dogs' carcasses and pools of the dogs' blood, Calvo said.
Local cops, who were kept out of the loop, were naturally indignant:
Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick Murphy said his eight-person department has been besieged by phone calls from as far away as Louisiana from people who mistakenly believe his officers were involved.
Murphy said he is angry that, instead, his officers were not informed ahead of time of that the county planned a major operation inside the town limits, especially in light of a 2006 incident in which then-Prince George's Police Chief Melvin C. High expressed formal "regret" that Berwyn Heights police were not told of threats made to an abortion clinic.
"I believe there is absolutely no credible reason why notification to my police department should not have been made," Murphy said. He said he is confident his officers could have entered Calvo's house without violence.
I have a feeling that Chief Melvin doesn't have much of a future with the force after this little incident, and that a lawsuit for excessive use of force and wrongful arrest by the police is coming soon to a Maryland court near you. Sometimes, learning to say you're sorry, and throwing the guys who actually screwed up under a bus is the correct response.
If I were the Jack B. Johnson, the County Executive of Prince George's County (which is one of the more liberal suburbs of Washington D.C.), and had the authority to do so, Chief Melvin High would already have his termination letter in hand. Then again, Chief Melvin High's retirement effective August 31, 2008, which was announced just two days after the raid, may not be a coincidence (although the Chief claims that he informed the County Executive of his impending retirement in June).
This raid has undermined the credibility of every police officer in his force, because the Chief of Police has no sense of reasonableness and the cops are clearly lying.
One also hopes that the state of civics education for Maryland police officers improves a little over the next few weeks. It is pretty appalling that county police officers don't even know the names of the elected officials in their jurisdiction. These weren't state cops or federal agents.
This is particularly ironic because this is a police department whose K-9 unit and use of force policies have been under federal supervision for the past five years, an investigation that was either just completed or was on the verge of being completed:
Our reputation has been restored among our peers and with citizens, as we have worked through the Department of Justice Consent Decree on the K-9 Unit and the Memorandum of Agreement related to use-of-force. We made the transformation process a positive – a stepping stone in the interest of Constitutional Policing and to earn and maintain the best regards of our citizens.
Mr. Johnson, it was your vision for police reform and your understanding of the necessity to take decisive action that positioned and propelled the Department into the future and that vision was the guiding force for our early work together with the Department of Justice to end the investigations. Just last week we completed the seventeenth quarterly review by the Independent Monitoring Team, which reports to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, the U.S Attorneys Office, the Federal District Court and indirectly to our citizens on the tremendous progress we’ve made over the past five years.
I guess it is back to the drawing board time on that restoration of reputation among peers and citizens thing.