Simon also explains why, when it comes to crime stats, I only really trust homicides:
In the beginning, under Norris, he did get a better brand of police work and we can credit a legitimate 12 to 15 percent decline in homicides. Again, that was a restoration of an investigative deterrent in the early years of that administration. But it wasn’t enough to declare a Baltimore Miracle, by any means.Mayor O'Malley personally showed me that binder of reclassified stats in 2001. I couldn't analyze it of course. But yes, O'Malley -- right or wrong -- did reclassify the crime rate up after he took office.
[Q: So they cooked the books.]
Oh yeah. If you hit somebody with a bullet, that had to count.... In the Southwest District, a victim would try to make an armed robbery complaint, saying , ‘I just got robbed, somebody pointed a gun at me,’ and what they would do is tell him, well, okay, we can take the report but the first thing we have to do is run you through the computer to see if there's any paper on you. Wait, you're doing a warrant check on me before I can report a robbery? Oh yeah, we gotta know who you are before we take a complaint. You and everyone you’re living with? What’s your address again? You still want to report that robbery?
I mean, think about it. How does the homicide rate decline by 15 percent, while the agg assault rate falls by more than double that rate. Are all of Baltimore’s felons going to gun ranges in the county? Are they becoming better shots? Have the mortality rates for serious assault victims in Baltimore, Maryland suddenly doubled? Did they suddenly close the Hopkins and University emergency rooms and return trauma care to the dark ages? It makes no sense statistically until you realize that you can’t hide a murder, but you can make an attempted murder disappear in a heartbeat, no problem.
But these guys weren't satisfied with just juking their own stats. No, the O'Malley administration also went back to the last year of the previous mayoralty and performed its own retroactive assessment of those felony totals, and guess what? It was determined from this special review that the preceding administration had underreported its own crime rate, which O'Malley rectified by upgrading a good chunk of misdemeanors into felonies to fatten up the Baltimore crime rate that he was inheriting. Get it? How better than to later claim a 30 or 40 percent reduction in crime than by first juking up your inherited rate as high as she'll go. It really was that cynical an exercise.
And Simon continues:
We end the drug war. I know I sound like a broken record, but we end the fucking drug war.... The drug war gives everybody permission. And if it were draconian and we were fixing anything that would be one thing, but it’s draconian and it's a disaster.Now I never heard of "the bounce." Granted I didn't work in the Western. But Simon best knows an earlier era of policing than I experienced. What's always, in police circles, looked back on as the "good ol' days: the "rough ride," the "beat-and-release," the barefoot drop-off, the street corner mass macing? They all had their time. But times change.
You didn't ask me about the rough rides, or as I used to hear in the western district, "the bounce." It used to be reserved — as I say, when there was a code to this thing, as flawed as it might have been by standards of the normative world — by standards of Baltimore, there was a code to when you gave the guy the bounce or the rough ride. And it was this: He fought the police. Two things get your ass kicked faster than anything: one is making a cop run. If he catches you, you're 18 years old, you've got fucking Nikes, he’s got cop shoes, he's wearing a utility belt, if you fucking run and he catches you, you're gonna take some lumps. That’s always been part of the code. Rodney King.
But the other thing that gets you beat is if you fight. So the rough ride was reserved for the guys who fought the police, who basically made — in the cop parlance — assholes of themselves.
I’m talking in the vernacular of cops, not my own — but even in the vernacular of what cops secretly think is fair, this is bullshit, this is a horror show. There doesn’t seem to be much code anymore – not that the code was always entirely clean or valid to anyone other than street cops, and maybe the hardcore corner players, but still it was something at least.
I do not believe that the wagonman gave Freddie Gray a "rough ride." And there was another prisoner in the van who said as much. Cops knew Gray as low-level hustler and occasional C.I. He didn't fight cops. He did what he had to do to get by. That's not the worst crime in the world. But here's what interesting, as told to me: Gray wouldn't resist arrest, but he would go limp every time he saw the wagon: "I think he was an undiagnosed claustrophobic. I could arrest him with no problem. But he would go limp when he saw that wagon. He didn't like the wagon."