More Than 6500 SWAT Raids in Maryland Since 2010
Maryland law enforcement agencies conducted more than 6,500 SWAT raids over the last four fiscal years.
Maryland law enforcement agencies that maintain a special weapons and tactics unit are required by law to report specific action and deployment data to the Maryland Statistical Analysis Center, within the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention. The reports were mandated into law in 2009 in the wake of the Prince George’s County Police Department’s mistaken SWAT raid on the home of Berwyn Heights, Mayor Cheye Calvo, which resulted in in Calvo’s two black Labrador retrievers dead from gunshot wounds and no criminals apprehended.
According to the four published SWAT reports for fiscal years 2010-2013 show that SWAT units in Maryland conducted 6,560 raids an average of 4.5 raids per day.
Prince George’s County conducted the most raids by far of any agency over that time period 1,195 accounting for 31 percent* of all SWAT raids, followed by Baltimore City and Montgomery County with 11 percent each. The Maryland State Police conducted 201 SWAT raids during that time.
The overwhelming majority reason for SWAT deployments each year (90 percent) was to execute search warrants. In FY2013 the majority of SWAT deployments (54 percent) were activated to through the commission of Part II crimes as defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the FBI, Part I crimes consist of homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, breaking and entering, larceny/theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Part II crimes are described as a “variation of offenses.” In other words the majority of SWAT deployments last year were activated to respond to non-violent crimes.
SWAT units deployed between FY2010-FY2013 used forcible entry on 68 percent of deployments, and seized property on 84 percent of deployments.
The public’s eye has turned to the “police militarization” with the civil unrest marked by heavily armed police clashing with protesters in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson Missouri sparked by the shooting of Michael Brown, an African-American teenager, by a Ferguson police officer. The expansive use of SWAT teams and proliferation of use surplus military equipment by civilian police forces through the Defense Logistics Agency’s 1033 program.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Maryland law enforcement agencies have received more than $12 million in surplus military gear from the 1033 program, including 2,000 assault rifles, 873 semiautomatic handguns and 220 12-gauge shotguns—many of the same weapons the state’s recent Firearms Safety Act bans private citizens from acquiring. Queen Anne’s and Wicomico Counties acquired armored mine resistant vechicles through the program. Wicomico County Sherriff, Mike Lewis told the Delmarva Daily Times that he secured the 48,000-pound MRAP armored vehicle for use in the event of mass shootings and barricade incidents.
The Baltimore Sun’s Ian Duncan posted a spreadsheet of all equipment and value of military surplus transferred to Maryland law enforcement agencies since 2006.