Skip to comments.More of the Same: My Two Cents on Lawless Law Enforcement
Posted on 08/09/2008 9:40:03 PM PDT by Natty Bumppo@frontier.net
Armed men in street clothes and masks kicked down the doors of innocent citizens, guns blazing, and rounded up the residents. When they left, the floors were smeared in blood.
It reads like the first line of an intense novel, a Reuters story from Darfur or Zimbabwe, a history of the conflict in Kosovo, or a smuggled-out account of the Chinese pre-Olympics roundups. Recently deceased Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the scourge of the abusive Soviet leadership, could have written it. Sadly, it comes from far closer to home: Marylands Prince Georges County.
Last week, the PG County Sheriffs SWAT team stormed the home of a local town mayor, shooting his two Labrador Retrievers, and trussing up the mayor and his mother-in-law. After several hours of interrogation, the police departed, no arrests made. Since then, it has been reported that the raid was a mistake.
It certainly was. The mayors wife was randomly targeted by drug smugglers, who mailed a package of marijuana to the mayors house, and planned to intercept the delivery. Good policework in another state identified the illicit contents however, and the PG County Sheriffs Department, without consulting with the local police chief, decided to personally deliver the package to hizzoner, then arrest him if he touched it. The package was recovered, unopened, inside the mayors house.
By failing to coordinate with the local police, the un-uniformed SWAT members might very well have been legally gunned down by other police officers. The SWAT team entered the house without prior identification, knocking down the doors of a citizen with no known propensity to violence or prior public record except being elected mayor. The team shot two dogs immediately, despite their near proximity to other people in the house and an apparent lack of aggression by the dogs. By all accounts, the worse those dogs might have been expected to do was a friendly lick or two.
Chief Melvin High, the County Sheriff, already set to retire at the end of this month, has defended the actions of his officers and notably failed to apologize to an elected official for the mistaken raid and the needless slaughter of household pets. Outrageous as it may seem, its just more of the same in PG County. One might say the cops have gone to the dogs lately, but it seems more accurate to say that they are simply going after them.
In Tennessee, a family watched as the highway patrol shotgunned their family dog at a mistaken traffic stop. In Wisconsin, police showed up at the wrong address for an intruder alarm, and shot the dog while the thief was getting away next door. In a big country with lots of police officers, a few of these unfortunate misunderstandings are bound to happen, but in PG County, Maryland, it happens all too often.
Earlier this summer, a PG County officer was killed in the line of duty, and his suspected killer showed up mysteriously strangled in a solitary cell only hours after being arrested. In 2007, PG County police served a warrant at the wrong house, and shot the dog while figuring it out. In 2001, a PG County policeman followed a young man into another state, and killed him in a hail of gunfire. A former PG County officer was recently convicted of shooting two furniture movers in his home. Another officer has been convicted of setting a police dog on a homeless man, and yet another officer was sued for the mauling and disfigurement his dog inflicted on a sleeping woman. The County has paid multi-million dollar settlements in a number of police brutality and excessive force suits.
The FBI has been called in to investigate the raid on the mayors house, but that comes as scant comfort in a County where a recent Justice Department Review has been conducted without any appreciable improvement in the way the police treat citizens. The County has bled millions in settlements, seen officers imprisoned, citizens abused, and endured the humiliation of allowing a high-profile prisoner to be murdered while in custody. But the PG County Sheriff seems incapable of getting the point.
No amount of FBI or Justice Department probes will change that. The retirement of the incumbent will not change that. Only a clean sweep, top-to-bottom, of the entire PG County law enforcement community can begin to root out the persistent thuggery. There are certainly many good cops in PG County but there are far too many bad ones.
The PG County motto is Semper Eadam Always the Same. Lets hope not.
Serve and protect=raise money and exercise ego
Reminds me of an old SNL skit where the police (Akroyd/Belushi) bust into an apartment with guns drawn and proceed to throw two marijuana smoking women out the window, and then solemnly proclaim “another drug related homicide”.
Did you see this one, Natty?
Ever since the so-called War On Drugs (WOD) — actually the War On The Bill of Rights — began, our civilian cops have been undergoing MILITARY training. The authorities gentle it down with the prefix Para but those dynamic entry teams would be more at home in Baghdad than Boston. (Well, unless they hit John Kerrys front door at 3 am, Boston might not be a good example.) Watch Dallas SWAT for a dose of how it works.
I have long thought that that sort of activity within the ranks of otherwise civilian law enforcement was a push by those with an agenda to bypass posse comitatus for purposes BEYOND the WOD and other currently criminal behavior.
That the mass of that shrinking minority the American citizen (thank you Mr. Open Borders Bush!) has NOT objected to this erosion of personal liberty does NOT bode well for the future of freedom here.
I wonder what sort of body count of innocent grandmothers and others it will take before folks begin to grasp that they might be more at risk from the cops than the criminals and bring the situation back under control?
My Uncle Bob (R.I.P.) would be horrified.
My Uncle Bob was a 30 year veteran of a police force in suburban Cleveland. He was best man at my wedding 45 years ago. He served in an era when MOST cops embodied the now frequently hollow motto emblazoned on police units all over this country: TO PROTECT AND SERVE.
The last 10 years of his career were spent as the chief Juvenile Detective in his department. When he died, a number of the young men whose lives he had touched years before came forward to tell how his timely and sometimes tough-love intervention turned them around.
I know that many officers STILL try to live that creed today. I also know that there are officers out there who, despite the rulings by the Supremes that they have no obligation to specific, individual citizens (see Warren v. DC for some fascinating and frightening reading on that), would stand between one of us and a bullet and have.
Having said that, I must also lament that SOME cops are cowboys. Too many are simply power driven megalomaniacs who would have dropped on the OTHER side of the law had their lives drifted a degree or two off the course they did take.
I believe this to be especially true of far too many federal law enforcement types who have allowed their egos and hubris to become as bloated as the bureaucratic federal behemoth they serve. (See footnote below). Their mandate is no longer to protect and serve the citizens who pay their salaries: It is to crush any meaningful resistance to a growing body of procedures, regulations and policies too frequently enforced under severely tortured interpretations of the underlying legislative enactments (if any) and often put in place by executive fiat. The massively abused SEIZURE statutes laws the author of which now seeks to RESCIND! — spring to mind.
And one cannot but help to wonder how the clear to anyone with half a brain criminality of the Clintons and their subsequent avoidance of any penalty has played into the problem? There now seems to be a bright line between the easy, highly flexible, slap-on-the-wrist law for the rich and powerful and the rigidly enforced law against even the tiniest victimless crimes committed by those of us further down the food chain. Does anyone in his right mind believe THAT will NOT engender added disrespect for ALL law?
Could those things be a large part of the problem in some of the highly disturbing and DEADLY (on BOTH sides) confrontations we have witnessed over the past decade or so? Gordon Kahl, Ruby Ridge, OK City, Waco, Beck This list WILL lengthen and wed all better pray that WE will be spared.
Roman historian Tacitus warned that one could tell the level of corruption in a society by the NUMBER of its laws. Anyone doubt the level of corruption here?
Am I the only one who thinks were long overdue a serious review of the NUMBERS of laws under which we are now forced to exist and which are increasingly used not to assure our safety or well-being, but to COMMAND AND CONTROL us and KEEP US IN LINE.
Only the most tyrannical and power-crazed members of law enforcement could possibly object to that.
The modern counterparts of my uncle would not object.
It is THEY, after all, who are most likely to catch that bullet probably fired by someone who has symbolically screamed to himself IM MAD AS HELL AND IM NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE — referred to earlier when they sally forth to serve that flimsy warrant or make that bogus arrest.
At a cocktail party back in the late 80’s, I struck up a chat with a fellow — his name was Joe M. — whom I’d met on one or two previous events. After my first encounter, Joe’s neighbor and my boss at the time told me that Joe was an alcoholic who had just retired from 25 years with the IRS. Needless to say, I was guarded in expressing my political views to Joe as the IRS had helped my dad into an early grave in 1977 — at age 59 over an estate matter. Joe was pretty deep into his cups at the function in question and began telling IRS “war stories.” Most had to do with clear cases of criminal conduct by not very nice people. Joe — who was a few years short of 60 — sounded to me like someone who enjoyed helping getting really bad people off the street and I asked why he’d retired early. He told me that what he called “the service” had changed for the worse. Then I asked him about the new people coming in. He shook his head, actually teared up and said that many of them were “really bad.” I pressed. “Really bad” meant incompetent? “No — DANGEROUS,” he responded “they like to hurt people.”
It was then that I think I understood why Joe drank.
The police have largely lost the minorities and lower socioeconomic classes. Now they’re in the process of driving away the white middle class, too. And they have only themselves to blame. Unfortunately, the good cops will suffer for the actions of their bad apple brethren. When they walk into a diner, the conversation stops and everyone turns away—or worse, when they’re in a life or death jam on some dark night and no citizen stops to help or call 911—they need only look to incidents such as this for the reason why.
I think the term is “totalitarian anarchy”.
If LE were to knock on my door..I’d let them in. I have nothing to hide.
I have an acquaitance who nearly went apoplectic during the Waco event.
His shouted comment to me: You don’t know what it is like to have the Feds surrounding you.
My comment to him: I guess you are right.
One of the saddest JBT stories recently was the murder of a very old woman defending her home from an Atlanta police SWAT team. The police lied in a deposition to a judge, got a search warrant, decided to assault the place (if you’ve got a SWAT team, you might as well use it they reason) and went in with authomatic weapons. The old lady tried to defend herself and was shot dead by the JBTs. They then realized she wasn’t a drug dealer, so they planted some dope on her. They then (that is to say AFTER they murdered the woman) tried to intimidate one of their informants to say he saw drugs being sold out of the house. The “informant” actually told the truth and the cops are not looking too good.
The unintended (perhaps intended) consequence of liberalism. The guilty go unpunished by liberal prosecutors and judges. This breeds lawlessness. Unfortunately the most favored solution is a draconian, authoritarian, crackdown. With wise leadership this can be accomplished somewhat justly. Unfortunately wise leadership is selected by a wise electorate. P.G. County votes 80% Democrat. C.f. Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.”
And when they don't knock, violate the warrant, shoot your dogs, and then leave you with your bloody mess, I suppose you are going to thank them as they leave?
Before you start blaming liberalism for this, was not Reagan the one who started this b.s. WOD?
War on the Bill of Rights is what he should have called it.
If this is the story that I’m thinking of, a couple of the cops pleaded to a manslaughter charges and received jail time. I think she actually nailed a couple of them with a .38 before she died.
Maryland has severe gun control laws. I suspect the police have little to fear from the average citizen. The Founders understood this very well.
To punish and oppress.
“My Uncle Bob was a 30 year veteran of a police force in suburban Cleveland”
Then your Uncle Bob was a jackbooted thug, a cog of the machine, serving only to raise money and exercise his ego, a man whose death in the line of duty would probably have been “deserved” and “come-uppance” rather than tragic if it had gone down that way.
At least, according to the arbiters of righteousness on FR.
It’s threads like these (not the subject - the subject is something for which heads should roll) that make me realize that sometimes the stereotypes of this place have a ring of truth.
I hate to post this, but I have to.
I have a very close family member who is a former police officer. In fact, he led a narcotics task force.
In one of their no knock raids they knew nobody in the house was involved in the drug trade, they knew there was nothing drug related in the house. But they were able to get a warrant and they exercised it solely to intimidate the family of a drug dealer. Their own testimony in the case confirms all of this.
During the raid they fired through the walls in to a room they knew to have innocent women and children, and shot a dog that was doing nothing but lying there. Nobody in the house made an aggressive mood during the raid. Honestly, the entire event sounded more like a home invasion than anything you’d attribute to law enforcement.
Even after he left the task force, due to even more misconduct, there were repeated cases of abuse and misconduct by members of the team, with two of them currently serving time for criminal behavior.
It pains me to bring this up because this is a person I love dearly and, honestly, for years held in very high esteem because of his accomplishments as a law enforcement officer. But after this event, and conversations with many others who are very close to him, I realize that something about the power that goes along with the “War on Drugs” brings to many officers has the ability to bring about serious changes in an individual, and there are far too many people being given power they just can’t handle.
As strange as it is to say, I wish I could believe this was an isolated event, even though it would mean that someone I love was uniquely morally deficient. But there are enough stories of similar raids, coming from all over the country, that I truly believe the War on Drugs is reaching the point where it proves the axiom “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
I agree that some of those who post here (and they MAY be DU moles!) go off the scale of logic and reason.
Having said that, stories such as this one from Maryland even push ME to the edge.
There is NO excuse for this sort of behavior by “law enforcement” in an ostensibly free nation. The WOD has been a huge national error and has promoted these sorts of intolerable excesses.
Even Newt has remarked that the dough — and the freedoms —we have thrown at the WOD would be far better spent on treatment. Now that the WOD has become a lucrative national industry with a huge constituency, that will be difficult or impossible to do.
Perhaps if the DC SWAT boys had invaded the White House during the klintoon maladministration...?
It is way past time for the State Government to take over the County government completely and investigate every county employee of that county, elected or other then...oh nevermind, the state is Maryland.
LE doesn’t knock much any more. They smash in and shoot whatever four-leggeds are in the area. Sometimes I think it is dangerous not to have a dog or two on the property when the police come by ‘accident’ to your house. What if they don’t have a dog to shoot? They obviously feel entitled to shoot SOMEone.
There was some question as to the source of the “shrapnel” that hit the combat vests of the two cops. It seems their own gunfire may have accomplished the hits. Considering the level of candor of the officers I don’t think anyone can even say with any certainty that the old lady fired or even had a gun.
I would very much like to see your defense of the officers in Maryland and the ones in Atlanta. Surely you know more about it than any of the rest of us.
The WOD started in the late 1960's.
I pinged Wiki on this and interestingly enough it says Nixon signed the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) into being in 1973. Thus, if true, I'd still argue that we have a non-liberal as the genesis of this problem. Things that make you go hmmm. Though, wait, if the FBI was tasked to enforce these laws before the DEA got them, then, hmmm.
Would not the elimination of the "no knock" warrant go a long way to fixing this problem?
What I would like to see would be a recognition of juries' legitimate role in deciding "reasonableness". If twelve ordinary people would conclude that the manner in which a search was conducted in a particular case was not reasonable, the search should be legally regarded as unreasonable and therefore (per Article VI) illegitimate.
Defendants need to be allowed to have juries informed about the background and execution of searches, and told that they should regard as illegitimate any search that was not reasonable, along with any evidence from such a search. If juries were so informed, policemen who wanted to win their cases would have to refrain from SWAT tactics except in cases where a reasonable person would judge them appropriate.
It's why I turned against the war on drugs
I actually have been anti-WOD for some time, even though I am opposed to drug use, and even when I had a family member involved.
There are just far too many stories of abuse for those of us on the right to pretend it’s just media bias. I truthfully believe the real “law and order” types recognize that a certain segment of law enforcement is just as unlawful as those they are sworn to protect us from.
I grew up in the era of Adam-12 and CHIP's when the police were considered the good guys.
Now because of the war on drugs and and the lower standards and ever increasing militarization along the no knock warrants.The US is turning into a banana republic where the cops are to be feared and mistrusted.
Unfortunately the only way we can stop this kind of stuff is bypass the government and pass a constitutional amendment outlawing no knock warrants and repealing the drug laws
Unfortunately the only way we can stop this kind of stuff is bypass the government and pass a constitutional amendment outlawing no knock warrants and repealing the drug laws