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Old June 6, 2009, 11:55 PM   #1
Dust Monkey
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SWAT Team oversight. A good start. A good idea. Lets hope it goes nationwide

This is what I, and many who think SWAT teams have been overused, has been waiting for. While I do not think it goes far enough, it does not punish agencies or individuals, it is a start to some sort of oversight other than the agencies policing themselves. I would like something like this to be public record for all to see. And I would love for it to go nationwide. I have already sent a copy to my state reps.

Law Enforcement: Maryland Bill Would Require SWAT Team Monitoring
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from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #573, 2/20/09
Last July, police in Prince Georges County, Maryland, made national news headlines when their SWAT team raided the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo. Police had tracked a box containing marijuana to Calvo's porch, and when he carried the box inside upon returning home, the SWAT team struck. Team members broke down the door, restrained Calvo and his mother-in-law for hours, and shot and killed Calvo's two Labrador retrievers, one while running away.

http://http://stopthedrugwar.org/chr...WAT_bill?print

PolitickerMD cartoon about the Berwyn Heights raidIt would have been just another SWAT raid, except for two things: Calvo and his wife are well-liked public figures, and Calvo was an innocent victim. The real culprits in the case artfully protected their marijuana shipments by having them delivered to unknowing people, in this case the mayor of Berwyn Heights.

Now, in the wake of the Calvo incident, as well as other well-known SWAT raids gone bad, such as the one last year in which a 26-year-old Lima, Ohio, woman was killed and the one a few months later in which a Pennsylvania FBI agent was shot dead by a homeowner who claimed she thought she was defending her family from intruders, a handful of Maryland legislators are trying to rein in the SWAT teams.

A bill filed earlier this month, SB 447, would require police departments to monitor their SWAT team use and report it annually to the governor and the General Assembly. As the bill puts it:

"On a monthly basis, beginning January 1, 2010, a law enforcement agency that maintains a SWAT team shall report the following information to the office of the attorney general using the format developed under subsection (c) of this section:

(1) the number of times the SWAT team was activated and deployed by the law enforcement agency in the previous month;

(2) without identifying an exact address, the approximate location within or outside of the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency to which the SWAT team was deployed for each activation;

(3) the reason for each activation and deployment of the SWAT team;

(4) the legal authority, including type of warrant, if any, for each activation and deployment of the SWAT team; and

(5) the result of each activation and deployment of the SWAT team, including:

(i) the number of arrests made, if any;
(ii) the type of evidence seized, if any;
(iii) whether a forcible entry was made;
(iv) whether a weapon was discharged by a SWAT team member; and
(v) whether a person or domestic animal was injured or killed by a SWAT team member."

"This bill is an important first step that doesn't restrict [SWAT] use," Calvo told the DC Examiner. "It merely brings transparency."

And that would be a much needed beginning to reining in the SWAT teams, which were originally intended for hostage situations and other high-risk affairs, but have ended up being used routinely in drug raids and other law enforcement endeavors. If the bill passes, Maryland would be the first state in the nation to demand accountability from its law enforcement agencies when it comes to SWAT teams.

http://http://mlis.state.md.us/2009r...sb/sb0447f.pdf

EXPLANATION: CAPITALS INDICATE MATTER ADDED TO EXISTING LAW.
[Brackets] indicate matter deleted from existing law.
*sb0447*
SENATE BILL 447
E4 9lr1314
CF 9lr2326
By: Senators Muse, Frosh, Haines, Mooney, Peters, Raskin, and Stone
Introduced and read first time: February 4, 2009
Assigned to: Judicial Proceedings
A BILL ENTITLED
AN ACT concerning
Public Safety – SWAT Team Activation and Deployment – Reports
FOR the purpose of requiring, at certain intervals beginning on a certain date, a law enforcement agency that maintains a SWAT team to report certain information to the Office of the Attorney General using a certain format; requiring the Police Training Commission, in consultation with the Office, to develop a standardized format that certain law enforcement agencies shall use in reporting certain data relating to the activation and deployment of certain SWAT teams to the Office and to certain local officials; requiring a law enforcement agency to compile certain information as a report in a certain format and to submit the report to the Office no later than a certain date following the period that is the subject of the report; requiring the Office to analyze and summarize certain reports of law enforcement agencies and to submit a report of the analyses and summaries to the Governor, the General Assembly, and each law enforcement agency before a certain date of each year; providing that, if a law enforcement agency fails to comply with the reporting provisions of this Act, the Office shall report the noncompliance to the Police Training Commission; providing that the Commission shall contact a certain law enforcement agency and request that the agency comply with this Act under certain circumstances; providing that, if a certain law enforcement agency fails to comply with certain reporting provisions within a certain period after being contacted by the Commission, the Office of the Attorney General and the Commission jointly shall make a certain report to the Governor and the Legislative Policy Committee of the General Assembly; defining certain terms; and generally relating to the activation and deployment of SWAT teams.

BY adding to
Article – Public Safety
Section 3–507
Annotated Code of Maryland
(2003 Volume and 2008 Supplement)

2 SENATE BILL 447
SECTION 1. BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
MARYLAND, That the Laws of Maryland read as follows:
Article – Public Safety
3–507.

(A) (1) IN THIS SECTION THE FOLLOWING WORDS HAVE THE
MEANINGS INDICATED.

(2) “LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY” MEANS AN AGENCY THAT IS
LISTED IN § 3–101(E) OF THIS TITLE.

(3) “LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER” MEANS ANY PERSON WHO, IN
AN OFFICIAL CAPACITY, IS AUTHORIZED BY LAW TO MAKE ARRESTS AND WHO IS
AN EMPLOYEE OF A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY THAT IS SUBJECT TO THIS
SECTION.

(4) “POLICE TRAINING COMMISSION” MEANS THE UNIT WITHIN
THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES
ESTABLISHED UNDER § 3–202 OF THIS TITLE.

(5) “SWAT TEAM” MEANS A SPECIAL UNIT COMPOSED OF TWO OR
MORE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS WITHIN A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY
TRAINED TO DEAL WITH UNUSUALLY DANGEROUS OR VIOLENT SITUATIONS AND
HAVING SPECIAL EQUIPMENT AND WEAPONS, SUCH AS RIFLES MORE POWERFUL
THAN THOSE CARRIED BY REGULAR POLICE OFFICERS.

(B) ON A MONTHLY BASIS, BEGINNING JANUARY 1, 2010, A LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCY THAT MAINTAINS A SWAT TEAM SHALL REPORT THE
FOLLOWING INFORMATION TO THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL USING
THE FORMAT DEVELOPED UNDER SUBSECTION (C) OF THIS SECTION:

(1) THE NUMBER OF TIMES THE SWAT TEAM WAS ACTIVATED
AND DEPLOYED BY THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY IN THE PREVIOUS MONTH;

(2) WITHOUT IDENTIFYING AN EXACT ADDRESS, THE
APPROXIMATE LOCATION WITHIN OR OUTSIDE OF THE JURISDICTION OF THE
LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY TO WHICH THE SWAT TEAM WAS DEPLOYED FOR
EACH ACTIVATION;

(3) THE REASON FOR EACH ACTIVATION AND DEPLOYMENT OF
THE SWAT TEAM;

SENATE BILL 447 3

(4) THE LEGAL AUTHORITY, INCLUDING TYPE OF WARRANT, IF
ANY, FOR EACH ACTIVATION AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE SWAT TEAM; AND

(5) THE RESULT OF EACH ACTIVATION AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE
SWAT TEAM, INCLUDING:

(I) THE NUMBER OF ARRESTS MADE, IF ANY;

(II) THE TYPE OF EVIDENCE SEIZED, IF ANY;

(III) WHETHER A FORCIBLE ENTRY WAS MADE;

(IV) WHETHER A WEAPON WAS DISCHARGED BY A SWAT
TEAM MEMBER; AND

(V) WHETHER A PERSON OR DOMESTIC ANIMAL WAS
INJURED OR KILLED BY A SWAT TEAM MEMBER.

(C) THE POLICE TRAINING COMMISSION, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, SHALL DEVELOP A STANDARDIZED
FORMAT THAT EACH LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY SHALL USE IN REPORTING
DATA TO THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER SUBSECTION (B) OF
THIS SECTION.

(D) A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY SHALL:

(1) COMPILE THE DATA DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (B) OF THIS
SECTION FOR EACH MONTH AS A REPORT IN THE FORMAT REQUIRED UNDER
SUBSECTION (C) OF THIS SECTION; AND

(2) NO LATER THAN THE 15TH DAY OF THE MONTH FOLLOWING
THE MONTH THAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THE REPORT, SUBMIT THE REPORT TO:
(
I) THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL; AND

(II) 1. THE LOCAL GOVERNING BODY OF THE
JURISDICTION SERVED BY THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY THAT EMPLOYS
THE SWAT TEAM THAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THE REPORT; OR

2. IF THE JURISDICTION SERVED BY THE LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCY THAT EMPLOYS THE SWAT TEAM THAT IS THE
SUBJECT OF THE REPORT IS A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, THE CHIEF
EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE JURISDICTION.

4 SENATE BILL 447
(E) (1) THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHALL ANALYZE
AND SUMMARIZE THE MONTHLY REPORTS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
SUBMITTED UNDER SUBSECTION (D) OF THIS SECTION.

(2) THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL SHALL SUBMIT A
REPORT OF THE ANALYSES AND SUMMARIES OF THE REPORTS OF LAW
ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES DESCRIBED IN PARAGRAPH (1) OF THIS SUBSECTION
TO THE GOVERNOR, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AS PROVIDED IN § 2–1246 OF
THE STATE GOVERNMENT ARTICLE, AND EACH LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY
BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1 OF EACH YEAR.

(F) (1) IF A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY FAILS TO COMPLY WITH THE
REPORTING PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION, THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL SHALL REPORT THE NONCOMPLIANCE TO THE POLICE TRAINING
COMMISSION.

(2) ON RECEIPT OF A REPORT OF NONCOMPLIANCE, THE POLICE
TRAINING COMMISSION SHALL CONTACT THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY AND
REQUEST THAT THE AGENCY COMPLY WITH THE REQUIRED REPORTING
PROVISIONS.

(3) IF THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY FAILS TO COMPLY WITH
THE REQUIRED REPORTING PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION WITHIN 30 DAYS
AFTER BEING CONTACTED BY THE POLICE TRAINING COMMISSION WITH A
REQUEST TO COMPLY, THE OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL AND THE
POLICE TRAINING COMMISSION JOINTLY SHALL REPORT THE NONCOMPLIANCE
TO THE GOVERNOR AND THE LEGISLATIVE POLICY COMMITTEE OF THE
GENERAL ASSEMBLY.
SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this Act shall take effect
October 1, 2009.
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Old June 7, 2009, 12:28 AM   #2
teeroux
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Wow what a waste of resources. Isn't all the information already accessible by the Attorney General through arrest records, reports, call sheets, and ect. through the policing agency?

The only thing this bill seems to do is instead of the Attorney General having to have someone from their office get the info, it will be delivered to the office monthly.

Also it would only require warrants served by SWAT teams be reported, not any warrants served by other teams or officers. Supposedly the bill is to make sure there is no abuse of rights or over stepping of powers but will only serve to monitor the least warrant serving division of most police aggencies.

Last edited by teeroux; June 7, 2009 at 04:42 AM.
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Old June 7, 2009, 12:33 AM   #3
Dust Monkey
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Quote:
Also it would only require warrants served by SWAT teams be reported, not any warrants served by other teams or officers. Supposedly the bill is to make sure there is no abuse of rights or over stepping of powers but will only serve to monitor the least warrant serving division of most police aggencies.
Not when SWAT teams are being overused IMO. Its a start, and a good one. I am sure the stats are kept in the department, now another set of eyes will get to look at them. Thats a good thing..
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Old June 7, 2009, 02:19 AM   #4
mskdgunman
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Lets just kill another tree with a useless bill which has little, if any purpose. As was pointed out, all of the records the bill wants are available from open sources already. Just what we need when most agencies are cutting budgets is to add another thing to do. The information will go into the great boondoggle of the AG's office and you'll have a legion of armchair QB's second guessing every SWAT deployment and dictating policy in situations about which they know almost nothing...kind of llike our federal government

Our SWAT team executed MOST of our drug warrants and we have, as part of our op's plans, an assessment of the anticipated risks which the brass uses to decide if we have to use SWAT or if we can do it without them.

The assessment includes things like does the suspect have a violent history, is the site fortified, are there counter surveillance devices, weapons or fortifications etc. We (the drug unit) have done many of our own when there is no indications of any of the above issues. I have to say that in most of these cases we've found firearms in the house (guns and dope just seem to go together) and things could have gone badly.

When possible, I've always been a fan of the low profile thing as it's usually easier to get someone to flip when no one knows the cops are there. I guess they'll let us keep doing our own until something bad happens and the armchair QB's will say that SWAT should have done it.

You have to remember that at many agencies, it may not be a "SWAT TEAM" that does the actual execution. It could be a bunch of the drug guys in raid gear with a ram or a task force team who are not, by definition, a SWAT team but may carry similar gear specifically long guns, rams or other breaching tools, shields and helmets. At our local Sheriffs Office, the SWAT teams does not do drug search warrants unless it's really a bad situation, This job generally falls to the narcotics unit and they're not a SWAT team. The bad thing is, they do more actual "live fire" entries then the SWAT team and do it with less formal training

Sadly though, it may be a matter of economics that will have us serving more of our own warrants without SWAT. As the City cut's budgets, they get cranky about the whole call out pay for SWAT espicially if we have 4 or 5 warrants in a month. As usual, it's the dollar and not common sense or officer safety which will dictate how we do things. "do more with less" is the war cry now and should it continue, we'll be doing everything with nothing

For all those who get aggraved by the "militarization" of the cops, I'll make you a deal...if you can stop the militarization of the BG's we'll follow suit
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Old June 7, 2009, 02:33 AM   #5
sholling
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Sounds good to me. Too many people have died due to SWAT being sent to the wrong address or other misuse. This doesn't tie any hands, all it does it create much needed oversight.
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Old June 7, 2009, 02:50 AM   #6
Dust Monkey
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I like how it defines a SWAT Team. As in how you are equipped, and not in name only. The only folks who will not like this are the folks who don't want a flashlight on what they are doing. Do it right, do it within the law, no problem. If one gets upset at this bill, that does not tie anyones hands, I wonder what they have to hide.

Also. Who ever stated above about the criminal element being militarized. Show me the evidence. Haven't heard of any criminals using APC's. Or other types of military weaponry. And don't throw out the bank of America card. It's over used.
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Last edited by Dust Monkey; June 7, 2009 at 03:51 AM.
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Old June 7, 2009, 04:52 AM   #7
teeroux
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Well it ties no ones hands and doesn't shine a light on anything that wasn't already there.

As I said before anytime there is a case or investigation the proper documents are solicited for review.

It is a useless bill it simply takes the same information that would be solicited and puts it in a manila folder every month for the A/G that same info may not even be viewed and just filed away if there is no case or investigation.

Double filling bureaucratic bs IMO.
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Old June 7, 2009, 05:16 AM   #8
divemedic
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I don't agree with you. Sure the info is available from other sources, but to get the data under the current system, the AG would have to comb through thousands of pieces of paperwork from hundreds of departments. This way, the review process is easier.

Fire departments file a similar report and deliver it to the state for every call they run, why not the cops?
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Old June 7, 2009, 07:55 AM   #9
Al Norris
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A bill that requires a unit of law enforcement to make reports to the State AG...

Where is the civil rights question? Where is the legal question?

It is a General Political Discussion... Closed.
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