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As Long as We Remember...

August 13, 2008

They shoot dogs, donít they?

Kevin E. Dayhoff

In Prince Georges County on the evening of July 30, the home of the Berwyn Heights’ Mayor Cheye Calvo was the scene of a home invasion.


In an email, Mayor Calvo, 37, described the horrendous occasion: “… as my mother-in-law prepared dinner and I changed clothes hurrying to head to a community meeting, a heavily-armed county SWAT team burst through our living room door and shot and killed both of our dogs.


“There were loud voices. In the sights of two high-caliber weapons, I was ushered downstairs in only my boxer shorts before I was bound and forced to kneel on the floor. My mother-in-law was bound face down in the kitchen. The dead body of my bigger and older dog, Payton, laid in a pool of blood on the other side of the living room.”


The police did not have far to look to find those responsible for this heinous act; it was the Prince George’s Sheriff’s department – who made a mistake.


Oops! Oh – nevermind…


I have briefly worked with Mayor Calvo in the past, but I do not know him well. What I do know is that he is a very soft-spoken, kind, conscientious and extraordinarily capable and competent person, who loves his community and is extremely well liked.


When I first met him he worked for the National Conference of State Legislatures. The mayor was elected in the town of 3,000, located near College Park, in 2004. His wife, Trinity Tomsic, is a finance officer for the state.


An Associated Press account of the incident explained: “Calvo, who called his town “Mayberry inside the Capital Beltway,” gets a small stipend as mayor and works at the SEED Foundation, a nonprofit that runs public boarding schools for at-risk students.”


The mayor further explained: “I was told there was a warrant but was never shown one… I was told that they had intercepted a package addressed to our house that contained 32 pounds of marijuana. The large, white box, which I just had retrieved from the front porch, sat unopened on a living room table.”


In subsequent news reports, it was revealed that the package had been addressed to Mayor Calvo's wife, Ms. Tomsic.


A week after the home invasion WJLA-TV Channel 7 reported: “Prince George's County investigators announced Wednesday the arrests of two men in connection with an alleged plot to ship hundreds of pounds of marijuana to unsuspecting homes in the area, including the home of the Berwyn Heights mayor…”


The Washington Post said residents “of Berwyn Heights., meanwhile, have expressed outrage over the raid...”


Of the raid, Mayor Calvo’s email said: “The county police then proceeded to turn our house upside-down. I was moved to the kitchen, where I could see my little dog, Chase, lying in his own pool of blood.  My mother-in-law watched them shoot him while he was running away.”


“Sheriff's office spokesman Sgt. Mario Ellis says deputies ‘apparently felt threatened’ when they shot the dogs,” according to several news reports.


Getting beyond the fact that the police mentally and physically brutalized upstanding pillars of the community in their misguided pursuit of a box of pot, the glaring issue of the total ineptitude and lack of common sense on the part of a supposed elite police team rises to the forefront.


Even the police admit that investigators “had the mayor's home under surveillance after intercepting the 32-pound package of marijuana addressed to the mayor's wife at the Beltsville FedEx processing center. Investigators have reportedly identified several similar shipments to unsuspecting households in the area.”


Add to this the fact that the police scoped-out the modest home of a well-respected member of the community, in a nice “Leave it to Beaver” neighborhood. They still insisted on assaulting a horsefly with a hand grenade.


To make matters worse, if that were possible, “Berwyn Heights Police Chief Patrick Murphy said, according to The Washington Post: “I believe there is absolutely no credible reason why notification to my police department should not have been made, Murphy said. He said he is confident his officers could have entered Calvo's house without violence.”


This incident makes for another example of why there is currently a dangerous erosion of confidence in law enforcement on the part of public safety’s primary support-constituency – the average citizen. That is, everyday people who understand that without appropriate police protection there can be no community or quality of life.


These days, everyone has a story, whether it be their 90-year-old aunt separated for a special search before boarding an airplane, or their 76-year-old Mom isolated for an intensive interrogation at airport security because she could not negotiate her wheelchair through security.


Or perhaps it was when former U. S. Attorney General John Ashcroft “declared Ft. Detrick scientist Stephen Hatfill “a person of interest,” seven years back, in those 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five and left 14 hanging on to life,” as Roy Meachum explained so well last Friday on


“You know how that turned out. Dr. Hatfill received nearly $6 million for the damage the trial-by-media investigation caused to his career and personal life,” wrote Mr. Meachum, as he described why many doubt the FBI assertion that Dr. Bruce Ivins was responsible for the anthrax attacks.


Increasingly an adversarial relationship is evolving between law enforcement and law-abiding citizens predisposed to otherwise give the police the benefit of the doubt – and their support. Without that support, the job of law enforcement grows exponentially difficult.


At a time when the public is demanding protection from crime, doesn’t want to ride on an airplane with a terrorist and wants the scourge of drugs removed from our communities, the very citizens, for whom the police depend upon to do their job, are slowly but surely losing faith, trust, and confidence in law enforcement.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:


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