(THAT'LL teach them to hit the mayor instead of some Joe Sixpack, won't it, 
folks?)

Maryland Bill Would Bring Transparency to Use of SWAT Teams
                                Posted on February 6, 2009, 9:01am | Radley 
Balko
                                
                                Berwyn Heights, Maryland Mayor Cheye Calvo, who 
last summer was subjected to a particularly violent mistaken drug raid in which 
police shot and killed his two black labs, is helping push a new bill
in the Maryland legislature that would require every SWAT team in the
state to provide to the public "a monthly public report on its
activities, including where and when it was deployed and whether an
operation resulted in arrests, evidence seizures or injuries."This
is a terrific first step, and the Maryland legislature needs to pass
it. Part of the problem I've encountered reporting on this issue is
that police departments tend to to be stingy with this sort of
information. Even when it's available, it's often collected in ways
that aren't usable. Over the last few years, I've tried to file open
records request for copies search warrants, evidence return sheets, and
any other documentation of SWAT-related drug raids in several major
cities. In addition to being quoted prohibitive copying and labor fees,
I've also learned that search warrants and evidence return sheets are
usually kept in separate places, making it arduous to match them up
once a case has been resolved. In cases where a raid resulted in no
charges, the warrants are actually often thrown out. Of course, those
are the very cases we want to know about.The bill Calvo's
pushing would begin to make data about SWAT teams available, so we can
assess how often they're used, in what situations they're used, and,
when they're used in drug raids, how often they actually find not only
illicit drugs, but the high-power weapons proponents say make these
sorts of tactics necessary. In the few places this sort of analysis has
been done, the results have been less than convincing.Calvo's bill would also 
show how many often Maryland's SWAT teams hit the wrong home. It'll be 
interesting to see how the state's police organizations react. Commenters to 
the Washington Post article who appear to be police officers seem to be miffed 
at even this small bit of transparency. 
                                 
                        
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