Dog lovers of the world unite. Our federal government's zero-tolerance anti-drug crusade reached a new low in Prince George's County, Maryland, when police killed two innocent pet Labrador retrievers while improperly conducting a SWAT-style drug raid on the mayor's house.
On July 29, police burst into the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo and immediately shot to death his two Labrador retrievers. They were there to conduct a search for drugs. The raid was conducted by county police narcotics officers and a sheriff's office SWAT Team.
The incident occurred after Calvo carried in a package that was addressed to his wife. The mayor's mother-in-law had told the deliverymen, who were actually undercover police officers, to leave the package outside of his house. When Calvo arrived home that night, he brought the package inside. That's when the police broke down the door and immediately opened fire on the mayor's two dogs as they ran away from the narco-cops.
Police began tracking the package at a Midwest post office where drug sniffing dogs had discovered that the package contained 32 pounds of marijuana. Calvo said he had no idea how the package arrived at his home and that the sheriff's deputies entered without knocking. Then they immediately executed Payton, his 7-year old dog first, followed by Chase, a 4-year-old Lab, as he ran to another room.
Upon further investigation, it was found that the police did not even bother to secure a needed no-knock search warrant. Timothy Maloney, the mayor's attorney described the incident as a lawless act by law enforcement.
Calvo has not been charged, though police said he, his wife and his mother-in-law are all "persons of interest" in an ongoing investigation. The mayor said, "These were two beautiful black Labradors who were well-known in the community. We walked them twice a day; little kids knew their names and would come up to them and pet them," he said.
What makes this case unique is that this raid happened to a well known elected official. What is not unique is that these gestapo-like tactics happen every day in communities across America.
The drug war is an endless crusade by our government to promulgate its senseless zero-tolerance drug policies by any means necessary. This war on drugs has created convenient vehicles for appearing "tough on crime" behind a shield of public safety. But that shield gets worn down when our basic rights are curtailed through its use. We need to promote policy alternatives to the drug war that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights. In doing so we can reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition, and seek solutions that promote safety while upholding the sovereignty of individuals over their own minds and bodies.
Anthony Papa is a communications specialist for Drug Policy Alliance