Sunday, August 3, 2008

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Mayor's Dogs victims of PG County SWAT Team

It is a pretty strange story and it is even stranger for me because it happened pretty close to home. Berwyn Heights mayor,

Cheye Calvo

arrived home from work and found a big box on his porch with his wife's name on the label. Ah, maybe something she ordered for the garden. He picked it up and brought it in the house.

A few minutes later, he is upstairs changing his clothes, in his underwear and socks, when he hears crashing and a SWAT team blasts into his house. Guns go off, Calvo's two black Labradors are dead on the floor and he and his mother-in-law were cuffed and interrogated for hours.

Most everyone is outraged that the police busted into this home and killed the two dogs especially when no one can believe Cheye or his wife, Trinity, could be involved in drug dealing. Both work for the government and are highly respected and well-liked citizens; the town itself is quiet and unused to actions such as this. Besides, this is the MAYOR!

So, the question is, were the police completely wrong in their actions? Was such violent force necessary or could they have simply knocked on the door? Did they do a proper investigation before they decided to use a no-knock entry? Was there really probable cause enough that a judge signed the warrant? Or is there major misconduct here?

Before we conclude that the police were remiss, let's look at the other side of the equation. Is it possible they DID do a thorough investigation and had ample reason to believe Cheye Calvo and/or his wife Trinity Tomsic was involved in some drug transactions? The package would have netted them anywhere from say $60,000 to $100,000? Even if they appear to be upstanding citizens, does this mean that one or both of them might not have another side to them we have not seen? It wouldn't be the first time that government workers or politicians have been involved in some scheme to raise their standard of living.

I don't know this man or his wife so I have no idea if they are the most wonderful people on earth or not. I certainly think they are not the most typical people to be targeted in a drug bust. I feel sorry for the dogs, but if the no-knock entry was necessary for some reason, I can see that the cops have to protect themselves (and I would say the folks who believe the Labs would only lick intruders need to get a reality check).

Horrific as this event was, we will need to wait and see what led the police to resort to this kind of action. If the Calvos are totally innocent, I really feel bad for them. If the police did not have probable cause and busted in, thereby terrorizing innocent citizens and killing their pets for nothing, I can understand the purpose of a lawsuit.

However, if it turns out the police were justified, well, then I would say good, they did their job. I personally believe all drug dealing, including marijuana, does nothing good for a community and those people who feel free to break the laws to spread this stuff should get taken down. I wouldn't want the police to do less.

I am looking forward to the answers.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Preraphazon said...

Anytime politicians are involved, who all have detractors, you have to ask how anyone knew there was marijuana in the package and what is to stop a political or otherwise enemy from setting him up.

On the other hand, pot isn't much of a political hot potato, so if it was a setup, why not something more hardcore?

All things considered, I don't think ANY package of pot is worth killing a dog over, no matter how it got there. It's not even as destructive as alcohol, and we should have decriminallized it decades ago so that we could better free up resources to fight more destructive drugs and crime.

Pat Brown said...

Calvo could have been set up but this seems unlikely for two reasons: one, he is the mayor of a very small town and has no particular enemies that we know of. He is not like Mayor Barry of Washington DC who that "bitch set up"!::laughs::Actually, if he hadn't been caught in the act, Barry was a big player in politics and certainly no shy guy, so I could see him having someone who might want to take him down. Calvo? I doubt it. Berwyn Heights is so small it is lucky to even have someone willing to spend the time being mayor.

The second problem with the package being a set up is the cost of the herb. Quite frankly, if I were going to get the mayor caught with something, I don't think I would toss THAT much money! I would use a heck of a lot less marijuana to do the job.

I would agree about the dogs IF it were nailing someone for personal use or even for distributing about the neighborhood a pound of the stuff. But 32 pounds? IF the mayor were really involved, we would be talking someone who was higher up in a network and if the only way to bring the drug ring down would be to SWAT the house, well, then I would guess the dogs were in the wrong place with the wrong people.

Ronni said...,0,4563211.story

This article states that the package was deliberately mis-addressed, and was one of several. Package delivered, left on porch, pick up person gets it before addressee gets home--delivered pot with the addressee none the wiser.

I say the cops were totally out of line. No communication between agencies. I hope heads will roll over this.

Put yourself in the family's position, and see how sympathetic you feel towards the police then. I am disgusted by the arrogance of this act.

Pat Brown said...

I was at the mayor's house yesterday for the press conference and got to meet the man. I was very impressed by him and his attempt to be fair in the midst of his anger and devastation. Very good man and I feel so very sorry for him and his wife.

The recent news of the arrest of the two delivery men makes me wonder who didn't bother to do much in the way of investigation before the raid. PG County is an increasingly violent area and drug dealing needs to be dealt with, but the decision to move forward as the police did WITh knowledge that other innocent people had already been recipients of drug packages on their porches raises great concern for the judgment of the police agencies involved.

Ronni said...

With me, it raises concerns about the direction police work is taking. Period.

There was recently (well, six months or so ago) an incident in my home town, in which police called to a domestic disturbance found a naked man in the street. When they tried to apprehend him, he got hold of one of their night sticks and was flailing around with it. Three of them shot him. He died. The officers involved were found innocent of any wrong-doing. I think that, if they are innocent, we need to redefine police procedures, because that seems a bit extreme. I had it all explained to me by an officer, and I can see their POV, but still...

Like the mayor, it makes me think of Nazis.

Pat Brown said...

Unfortunately, each case is different. Sometimes, police officers do indeed act inappropiately as do doctors, teachers, politicians, etc. Not all of them are good at their job and not all of them have good characters. Unfortunately, when there is police misconduct or bad judgment, often the whole police force gets accused of being rotten. Yet, everyday they go out and risk their lives to try to protect citizens and get creeps off the streets.

We have to look at each case on its own merits (unless we do see a serious pattern that needs addressing). I don't know about the nightstick guy, but I have done enough ride-alongs with my daughter to realize that what appears to be an innocent person or just a slightly crazy person that can be contained nicely, can suddenly turn on officers and do serious bodily harm and it only take two seconds. Many police officers have seen it happen or been victims of such assaults, so they are pretty cautious and quick to protect themselves. When an officer says, "Don't move!" he really means it.

So, this case with the mayor is really sad and possibly horrific depending on the truth of the circumstances. I am still waiting to see how much validity the police had to enact this raid. It may be a lot like police chases. There is a lot of criticism of these, that they are dangerous and sometimes innocent citizens get killed in the process. This is true. On the other hand, one cannot stop carjackers (who are violent people who kill innocent people and who often are also committing armed robberies with the stolen vehicle) if they know the police will not come after them.

Kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. My guess is, right now, drug dealers are chortling that they will now be able to send packages with abandon because no one is going to conduct a raid on them after this unfortunate and tragic incident.

Preraphazon said...

Who has plenty of pot laying around to use for a drop like this is police.

And pointing to no particular end, but it is not at all unusual for there to be drug lords up the chain of both police and governmental agencies. Of course, this will be truer in "border" states like Florida and Texas than anywhere else. But no scenario is impossible in this situation. Nothing would surprise me.

Ronni said...

Drug dealers are not chortling for the reasons you state, Pat. The drug dealers never got raided. Did you read the article I linked? They put somebody else's address on the package, and collect it before the addressee gets home. When something goes wrong, it's the person the package is addressed to who receives the flak, not the drug dealer. The Mayor brought in the package before the dealer got there to pick it up. Sloppy drug dealing, IMO. The police were probably planning to follow whoever picked it up. Perhaps the dealer spotted the cops and decided to leave the package. When the mayor took it in, the cops unleashed.

The police need to have their facts straight before they go shooting people's dogs and cuffing their mothers-in-law. Shooting the dogs was a barbaric act, akin to shooting a child with a toy gun, because the gun could have been real.

Treating innocent civilians like criminals because of a package, without looking any deeper than the name on the box, is slipshod at best, and terroristic at worst.

Pat Brown said...

Ronni, you need to actually read what I say in my posts. I was AT the press conference at the mayor's house. I know every detail of this crime.

Yes, in this instance the dealers put another person's name and address on the package and had it delivered to another person's address. But, if do more research, you will also find many dealers put their OWN addresses on the packages and have them sent to their OWN homes. This is much more common. Most packages do not get caught by the dogs and are delivered. The reason they put OTHER people's addresses on the packages and then go pick them up is that some ARE afraid they will get raided if they have the packages sent to their own homes. Now, this last fear may disappear.

I also stated in my posts that the biggest concern I had with this raid was that the police did not do a proper investigation prior to making the raid. Had they done so, they might have made better choices.

Shooting the dogs is not a barbaric act IF it is necessary for safety of the officers. It is terribly sad but it may be unpreventable. IF this had been a well-investigated operation, and IF they had good reason to believe that in that house was a long-time felon with a history of major drug dealing and firearm charges, THEN this "no-knock" raid would have made sense and been perfectly acceptable. THEN, when they blew through the doors and the drug dealer's two vicious attack trained dogs were killed and the dealer shot down with two uzis in his hands, the police would have received an accomodation. No one would have said a thing about the dogs.

The reason everyone is upset is because this was an innocent citizen and a mayor. If the police couldn't figure this out before raiding his house, what happens to Joe Normal? The entire issue should be the question of the background investigation leading to the choice to do a "no-knock" raid, not the fact one was conducted.

One last thing not to forget, the criminals themselves. Essentially the mayor DID get framed by a crook who was willing to make him a target of police investigation. He is ultimately responsible for what happpened. Also, innocent dogs are used by drug dealers who destroyed their decency by their nasty training and living conditions, and they get their dogs killed by putting them in the line of fire USUALLY from other drug dealers (which is why they have them). Then these drug dealers go and destroy our neighborhoods, spread drugs and dealing through them, ruining our children's lives and sometimes getting THEM killed. Is any one complaining about all of this? I have read not only the article you cite, Ronni, but dozens of them, and I have been reading many, many of the comments, NO ONE to speak of is concerned about these criminals doing damage to our communities, our children, and our pets.

Ronni said...

I think it's a given. We live with the destruction caused by drugs. We applaud the police when they bring down drug dealers.

You are absolutely right that the reason we are upset about this is because an innocent family was treated as if they were drug dealers.

A lot of people seem to pass this off by saying, "Oh, well--the police thought they were drug's just a case of mistaken identity."

Not being a drug dealer, myself, I can only look at it as an innocent person to whom this sort of random attack could happen.

The investigations into this sort of police mistake seem to always focus on whether or not the police followed the SOP, not whether the SOP needs a little tweaking.

I want the police to catch the dealers. I just don't want them attacking innocent citizens by mistake.