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by Peter Moskos

April 15, 2010

Chief Hylton... Where were you?

Prince George's County Police Department Chief Roberto L. Hylton has been very quick to express outrage at the beat down a few of his officers gave to a college student.

I'm just curious where chief Hylton was that night.

Did he have somewhere more important to be?

Really. Where was he if not out there with his officers? I don't know if he was out there on the front line. I hope he was. But I have a feeling he wasn't. Because if there was real leadership there that night, the beating probably never would have happened.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

When a policeman arrests a regular citizen for felony assault or domestic violence, isn't the arrest usually based on much LESS information than what is shown in the video.

It doesn't mean that we have enough info to convict, but there was more than enough evidence that the policeman who beat the suspect should have been arrested at the scene by the other 23 police officers who were right there with them. Now there is this nonsense about how they can't identify the beaters. IOW, the alleged felons escaped because they were not immediately arrested. For that dereliction all 26 police officers in the vid should be terminated.

I don't mind if the beaters get a jury trial like anyone else would, but they also needed to be arrested like anyone else would. It is not like the other 23 police officers were preoccupied with more serious crimes happening in front of them because the video shows that that wasn't happening.

Anonymous said...


--that the 3 policemen--

Anonymous said...

My guess is that there would have been less property damage and personal injury done that night if there were drastically fewer policemen and they were not deployed in military equipment in a military formation.

I have seen real, actual riots up close and personal. Even the picture with the ripped out traffic sign didn't necessarily look like a riot, and the scene happening just before that kid got beat looked NOTHING like a riot.

Over at the police board they said that it was a riot because the policemen showed up in riot gear. I don't think that is the test.

I am not saying that there was definitely no riot no place in that town that night, but I haven't yet seen or heard strong evidence that there actually was.

PCM said...

I like the point that "just because police show up it riot gear does not a riot make."

But I'll give police the benefit of the doubt and assume they were tired, exhausted, and poorly led.

Police are damned if they do and damned if they don't. One guy with a sign breaks a store window. Somebody else starts a fire. Somebody gets a bloody head. Then suddenly everybody is screaming at the police for inaction.

If police act too soon, they are blamed. If police act too late, they are blamed. And even if police act at just right time, they are still blamed.

But as I said before, this was not a anti-police riot. There should be plainclothes police in the crowd identifying trouble makers and uniformed officers in the crowd so that people can identify trouble makers to the police. And then there should be a team of officers to nab the bad guys out of the crowd quickly.

Conveniently, this is one of the rare crowds that police officers can blend into quite nicely.

Riot police tend to provoke crowds by their presence. Having a line of riot police standing around does nothing but encourage one asshole to lob a bottle or brick. And then what do you do?

Riot police are needed to break up riots. And if you've reached the point where you need to close down the party, do something like this:

1) Make clear and understandable announcements telling people what is about to happen, "Go home, disperse, this is a riot situation, and tear gas will be launched to disperse the crowd at precisely 2AM."

2) Make sure to give people who then want to leave the means and direction to do so (don't have one group of police telling a crowd to go east and another group on the east side telling the crowd to go west).

3) At 2AM, very few people will have left. So lob in precisely one small tear gas canister. Now give the crowd time to leave. Make another announcement and come in strong at 2:15AM.

And be willing accept the inevitable screaming that will come from some circles the day after.

But hopefully with good policing at the early stages, nothing would get out of control.

Anonymous said...

Good suggestions.

I have seen too many commenters at police boards subtly extolling the virtues of using a classic pincers formation to trap "rioters" in order to experience the joy of making arrests on people they do not like. I have also heard stories of people who claim that they were not trying to be part of a "riot" and got caught in the "riot" and arrested. One thing I can say about my personal experience with actual riots is that you can detect them and escape from them (even as a regular citizen) before you get caught in the middle of them. With "riots" (in quotes) I am not so sure that is true.

While I would normally give police the benefit of the doubt about whether a riot or a "riot" is taking place, this gets less true over time as a greater proportion of policemen seem joyfully excited by the prospect of working a "riot." Also, the lie about the beating and the fact that no policemen have stepped forward to identify the masked beaters makes me not trust any member of Prince Georges police ever again about anything. I think you can see why I would feel that way. If the Prince Georges police department says there was a riot, then that means there was NOT a riot. They have shown their true colors. their cred is in the potty tank. No riot.