Blurring the Line between Police and Military

By:  Bob Adelmann
Blurring the Line between Police and Military

Radley Balko's book Rise of the Warrior Cop could have been titled The Emergence of SWAT Teams and their Takeover of Local Law Enforcement.

Cheye Calvo, the mayor of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, was taking a shower in his home late Tuesday afternoon, July 29, 2008 in preparation for a meeting he had that night. He heard a loud explosion at the front door of his home followed by the screaming of his mother-in-law who was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Their two black Labs, Payton and Chase, started barking. Calvo told what happened:

My wife and I are still in our 30s and don’t have kids of our own. But we do have — or we did have — two black labs.

I was hosting a community meeting that evening, but before that I returned home from my day job to walk my dogs. Before I left on my walk, my mother-in-law, who was cooking, told me a package had been delivered and was on the front step. On the walk, I noticed a few black SUVs in the neighborhood, but thought little of it other than to wave to the drivers.

When I returned home, I picked up the box, which was addressed to my wife, and took it inside where I left it unopened on the living room table. I went back upstairs to get into business attire for my meeting.

I was in my boxer shorts when I heard my mother-in-law scream. It was a loud, fearful scream. I ran to the window, where I saw three or four men dressed in black with high-caliber rifles in my yard approaching my house.

I then heard an explosion, which was the sound of my door being blown open, followed by immediate gun fire. There were loud noises, the sounds of boots, and then more gunfire…

I could see my mother-in-law bound, lying face down on the kitchen floor. Payton, my older dog, was lying dead in a pool of his own blood on the other side of the living room. I soon learned that my younger dog, Chase, was dead in a back room, where he had been shot from behind as he ran away.

There were perhaps a dozen men in black, just standing around in my living room. I asked for a warrant. They said that they did not have it with them, but [that] one was en route.

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Photo of SWAT team in Arizona: AP Images

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