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First things . . . Richard Falknor on 17 Mar 2013 06:10 pm

UPDATED! Tracking The Right Use & Misuse of SWAT Teams

UPDATE MARCH 22: Hear yesterday’s testimony (click here) from delegate Neil Parrott on his HB 1520 where he states that a ‘friendly amendment’ would incorporate the substance of his measure into HB 1178. Listen (click here) to the extensive March 12  testimony from mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights, Maryland on delegate Kriselda Valderrama’s HB 1178 as well as the pushback from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. HB 1178’s companion measure SB 590 (click here) passed the Maryland Senate yesterday 47-0. Several members of both parties on the House Judiciary panel were clearly not taken in by the thinly reasoned opposition to SWAT reporting requirements from Maryland law-enforcement voices.

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Next Thursday March 21 at 1 PM, the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary panel will hear testimony on Neil Parrott’s HB1520 entitled “SWAT Team Reports — Required Information and Extension of Sunset” (click here).

 The Washington County Republican delegate’s measure would extend the sunset date on existing SWAT-information-collection legislation from June 30, 2014 to June 30, 2017, and expand the information required. (Click here for the bill’s text.)

The back story on this measure is the uproar over the questionable use of SWAT resources in Washington County in a November misadventure which outraged local citizens. 

Ann Corcoran (PTPR)  covered this Sharpsburg incident extensively (click here).

Whatever the legislative outcome of HB1520 this late in the session of the 2013 General Assembly, next Thursday afternoon’s hearing  can be a valuable teaching opportunity for conservatives as they testify in support of  continuing and expanding SWAT reporting.

Sharpsburg is not the first SWAT incident in the Old Line State to come under public criticism.

On August 15, 2008, we posted End SWAT Team Overreach in Maryland and Virginia

“The security of one’s family and property against gross misuse of state power must always be a central conservative concern. Thus we invite the attention of readers to the case of the SWAT team here invasion of the home of mayor Cheye Calvo of Berwyn Heights, Maryland.
Here is what the DC Examiner said this week about the Berwyn Heights case….”

Click here for our entire post wherein we cited Cato report “Overkill” by Radley Balko here with an interactive map and much Virginia data.

In our August 15, 2008 discussion, we made these points —

  • “We suggest the attorneys-general of Maryland and Virginia should develop sensible state-wide guidelines for the use of SWAT teams along the lines originally intended. They should hold public hearings to illustrate the dimensions of the current SWAT problem in their respective states and weigh possible remedies.
  • “As Mr. Balko has written: ‘L.A. police chief Darryl Gates invented the [SWAT] concept in the 1960s shortly after the Watts riots. Gates wanted an elite team of police who could defuse dangerous situations like riots, hostage-takings, or bank robberies. For about a decade, that’s how SWAT teams were used, and they performed marvelously.’”
  • “Conservatives should seek Congressional review of Federal SWAT team employment, and the extent of past and current Federal SWAT subsidies to local police departments. Critics suggest this Federal help (including large quantities of ‘surplus military gear’) is responsible for the ‘mission creep’ of SWAT teams.”
  • “This is rather a tale of blind Federal largesse here to local police departments. It is a story of pork gone rancid.”
  • “Gun owners might consider this extract from the Cato white paper [Overkill]: ‘Police say that [one suspect’s] concealed-carry permit indicated he was potentially dangerous, which necessitated the involvement of the SWAT team.’” (Highlighting supplied throughout for today’s post.)

See all three current Maryland reports on SWAT use required under existing law.

See also a three-year summary of these reports.

As analyst Radley Balko suggests, continuing transparency is essential to getting the rules right for the employment of SWAT teams.

That is why the Maryland House of Delegates Judiciary panel should extend the sunset on SWAT required data collection, and expand the required information.

Readers may wish to revisit our other posts relating to SWAT teams:

Another Swatting! But Who Else in the GOP ‘Will Keep the Bridge?’

Protecting Free Speech: Where Is the Other 64% of the House GOP?

New Threat to Our Free Political Speech: “SWATTING” Bloggers

No longer “Live Free or Die” in the Granite State?

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