The Laundry List

Democratic Delegate Candidate Michael Jackson got his name in the paper again this week. Though not necessarily for a reason he really likes:

An Owings resident is involved in a federal lawsuit against the state for alleged employment discrimination by the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office up until July 19, 2010, involving then-sheriff Michael A. Jackson, who is now running as a Democratic candidate for the Maryland State House District 27B, which covers part of Prince George’s County and northern Calvert County. 

Thomas Lay was employed by the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years, according to the complaint filed by Lay’s lawyer in September 2013. Lay, who achieved the rank of captain, sustained injuries on the job resulting in severe migraine headaches, which are exacerbated by night shift work. 

“After satisfactorily serving in his assignment, he was, without reason, assigned to perform night shift work, a shift that no other Captains were forced to work,” the complaint states. The complaint continues to claim the night shift work exacerbated Lay’s condition to the point that the migraines were frequent and debilitating, so Lay applied for leave and requested reasonable accommodation of his disability. 

“Without any reason, Mr. Lay was denied his request for reasonable accommodation of his disability: to simply change his shifts to day work, even when no other deputy sheriff who achieved the rank of Captain was forced to work nights and even though two other Captains volunteered for the same night shift Mr. Lay was assigned,” the complaint states.

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For lack of a better term, Democratic Delegate Candidate Michael Jackson during his term as Sheriff of Prince George’s County was discriminating against the very law enforcement officers that the people of Prince George’s County elected him to lead.

If you think that the name “Michael Jackson” connected with Prince George’s County before, you aren’t imagining it. Because Michael Jackson, while serving as Sheriff, was a central figure in one of the most notorious acts of “policing” in State history;

A SWAT team raided the home of a Washington, D.C.-area mayor, killing his two black Labrador retrievers and seizing an unopened package of marijuana delivered there. 

Prince George’s County Police said Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo brought a 32-pound package of marijuana into his home that had been delivered by officers posing as delivery men. The Tuesday evening raid was conducted by county police narcotics officers and a sheriff’s office SWAT Team. 

The package was addressed to Calvo’s wife, Trinity Tomsic. His mother-in-law had asked the supposed delivery men to leave the package outside. Calvo has not been charged, though police  said he, his wife and his mother-in-law are “persons of interest” in an ongoing investigation. 

“We never opened the box. We have nothing to do with this box,” Calvo said. 

Sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Mario Ellis says deputies “apparently felt threatened” when they shot the dogs.

Jackson has been defiant about his role in this insane drama, going as far as to saying in 2010 “We’ve apologized for the incident, but we will never apologize for taking drugs off our streets. Quite frankly, we’d do it again. Tonight.” He also defended the role his deputies played in this sordid affair. And investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Department under Jackson’s leadership cleared everybody of wrongdoing. Radley Balko, in a damning piece recapping the incident, notes:

…the most aggravating thing about the raid is that Prince George’s Officials—from County Executive Jack Johnson to Sheriff Michael Jackson—have stubbornly and shamelessly refused to admit that the police made a single mistake. The horrifying lesson to draw from that: It’s perfectly acceptable for the police to barge into a home of an innocent family without first doing any corroborating investigation, shoot and kill the family’s dogs, handcuff the home’s occupants for hours on end, lie about the circumstances leading up to, during, and after the raid, then refuse to turn over any information about the investigation and raid when the wrongly raided family requests to see it. No mistakes were identified because Jackson has determined none were made. No training and policy modifications will be put in place because Jackson doesn’t feel any are appropriate

Sadly, that’s not the only botched case under Michael Jackson’s watch as Sheriff. As D.C. Russell noted here at Red Maryland in 2008, there was a second case where Deputies shot an innocent family pet and in a separate case threatened to shoot the dog of individuals whose home Deputies demanded to search without a warrant.

The only positive impact so far of Michael Jackson’s time in public office is the fact that his Department’s bungling of the Calvo raid led to requirements for local police departments to record and report on SWAT activity and the revelation of the amount of gear local departments have obtained from military surplus. 

Democratic Delegate Candidate Michael Jackson has a long record of public service. It just so happens that much of it has ended up in either investigations or or in the courtroom. Jackson has a luandry list of reasons as to why he should never again be entrusted with an elected office. The people of District 27B deserve better than this, and the people of Maryland can ill-afford another corrupt Democrat member of the House of Delegates. The people of 27B do have a choice in solid conservative Phil Parenti

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