Heavily armed tactical police in Prince George’s County, Md., adjacent to Washington, D.C., raid more homes than any other law enforcement agency in Maryland, say newly released data from the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention reported by the Baltimore Sun. In the last six months of 2009, police there conducted 195 tactical entries, 105 involving crime deemed nonserious felonies and misdemeanors. State legislators required police across Maryland to submit the data after the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Md., was handcuffed by sheriffs deputies who burst into his home with automatic weapons and shot his two dogs. Drug dealers had sent packages of marijuana to unsuspecting homeowners and waited until postal carriers left them on front porches, with the hopes of intercepting them before the owners came home.
Mayor Cheye Calvo, who was cleared of wrongdoing, has sued the county, arguing that police routinely use SWAT team tactics on even the most routine of raids, and that the raid on his house could’ve been avoided with a little prior investigation. A county police spokeswoman said that even in cases where minor crimes are alleged, most are for drugs, and police assume there are weapons. Critics say police, since the Sept. 11 attacks, have armed themselves like never before and are increasingly using military-style tactics that amount to paramilitary operations to arrest people on minor crimes. Calvo said police raided a house in his neighborhood looking for someone wanted for writing bad checks.