Question: Who’s safe from the brutal tactics of the zero-tolerance drug war?
Answer: No one, apparently.
A couple weeks ago, a D.C.-area sheriff\'s office SWAT team and county police narcotics officers in Maryland burst into the house of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo after they saw Calvo take a suspicious package inside. (The package, which contained marijuana, was intended to be intercepted by a drug smuggling ring that exploits unsuspecting addressees.) During the raid, they shot and killed the mayor\'s two Labrador retrievers.1 In the ensuing investigation, it was discovered that the police did not even possess a "no-knock" warrant for the botched SWAT-style raid.2
In November 2006, the Atlanta area was shocked when 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was gunned down by narcotics officers who kicked down her door (an incorrect address was supplied by an informant) in another bungled “no-knock” drug raid. Protecting her home from the sudden intrusion, Ms. Johnston fired one round before being shot 39 times by police; they then handcuffed her and, as she lay dying, planted marijuana in her basement to cover up their mistake.3
Each year, SWAT teams across the country conduct an estimated 40,000 raids, many of them directed at people suspected of nonviolent drug law violations.4 These brutal tactics — heavily armed police in military-style attire breaking down doors and tossing flash-bang grenades — have become routine. But it’s obvious such tactics are not justified for routine drug raids.
Send a note to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a national organization that unites mayors around policies and goals, and ask them to support an end to these tactics. Now that one of their own has been vicitimized, urge our nation\'s mayors to start a conversation in their communities about "no-knock" warrants and routine SWAT-style raids for drug investigations.
Take action now.
If you are as outraged as we are, please take another moment to forward this request to your friends and family.
Thank you so much for your support!
Director, National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance
P.S. Check out the resolution passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling for a new bottom line in U.S. drug policy.
1. "FBI to Review Raid That Killed Mayor\'s Dogs," Washington Post, August 8, 2008
2. "Prince George\'s Police Clear Mayor, Family," Washington Post, August 9, 2008
3. "Casualties of the Corrupt Drug War," FOXNews.com, November 20, 2007
4. "Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids," Cato Institute, July 2006