I'm not quite certain whom Batts is trying to win over with his op-ed in the Sun. It seems like maybe he should have thought twice before pressing the send button.
The first half of Batts' article is spent recounting how bad the police department used to be, before Batts showed up to save the day:
The decade before I arrived saw more than 50 officers arrested, according to news reports. The public consciousness is filled with names like William King and Antonio Murray, who were sentenced to hundreds of years in federal prison for robbing drug suspects.... The cycle of scandal, corruption and malfeasance seemed to be continuing without abatement.Now I was already gone a decade before he arrived. So maybe the department went to hell the second I left, but I doubt it. Now King and Murray were criminal cops caught up in the war on drugs. They were arrested (thanks to the Stop Snitching video) and convicted after taking the stand in their own defense.
The tow-truck scandal was less serious but more odd. It was like a throwback to low-level corruption from the 19 friggin' 60s. But since it involved more officers, it is worth looking at. This scandal was also very much linked to a 2006 effort to hired Spanish speakers officers: "Baltimore can also lure Puerto Rican applicants with higher pay: The department's starting salary is $37,000, compared with $25,000 for a starting job in a Puerto Rican police agency."
Well perhaps it would have been better to simply offer Spanish classes in Baltimore.
Because in 2008 it seemes like the whole damn Puerto Rican police department got busted. (And the Puerto Rico PD apparently still hasn't cleaned up their act.) So apparently some high-ranking genius went down to Puerto Rico and poached a dirty police department of some of its dirty police officers. But hey, you want US citizen Spanish speakers and only have $37 grand to pay? I got a deal for you! (To be clear, many but not all of the officers caught in that scandal were linked to that hire. Likewise, not all the officers hired were dirty.)
Anyway, Batts is right about this:
Many officers will be unhappy reading these words. Many want me to outright defend the department and say nothing is wrong with the way this organization engages in police work. For the overwhelming majority that is true. However, when people go on television wearing masks, allege themselves to be police officers and are cloaked in the shadows espousing their own indifference to violence as children are shot, I am troubled. This is not the Baltimore Police Department that I know.One problem is that Batts has never known the Baltimore Police Department. Or Baltimore.
Then Batts takes on black officers:
I challenge the leadership of The Vanguard Justice Society, an African American advocacy group for police officers, to stand and project their voice in this African American city, where people who look like them feel treatment is unfair. Speak out against the beating of a resident at a bus stop or the selling of narcotics on the back porch of a police station. Where is the concern over scores of African Americans arrested and college scholarships lost? Don't allow yourself to be used as a tool of a bygone strategy from times long since past.Did the police commissioner just call his black officers a bunch of Uncle Toms? Well, that's not going to go over well. Now the Vanguard Society has never been an advocate for business as usual in the policing world. In some ways black police organizations exist as opposition to the older, whiter, more conservative FOP/PBA world. And to the credit of the Vanguard Society, they've also called out Batts for his job poorly done.
Batts continues, taking credit where none is due:
I will not apologize for bringing professionalism and integrity to the forefront while eliminating greed, corruption and intolerance from the rank and file. Policing in any environment is difficult on a good day. That does not mean we have, or should ever have, a blank check to treat the public with callous disregard.So what exactly are Batts' reform accomplishments? Because I honestly do not know. Or is his vague call for "reform" simply be a cover for incompetence, a riot, a demoralized police department, and a homicide rate that has more than doubled? Because I think it's the latter. So let me be the first to nominate Paddy Bauler for commissioner. He's the Chicago politician famous for one line: "This city ain't ready for reform!"
Continuing these reforms also means that organizations and individuals, who have profited, either materially or through position, will continue to fight against the reforms we are enacting. It means that people will throw mud, call into question my leadership, or lament days gone by. They will attack with innuendo, rumor and supposition. We will respond with fact, with evidence, with the things we have done.
Reform is not easy. It comes with a cost. It is a cost we should be willing to pay for the future of our city.
[Batts, known for his fuzzy math (though he may be basically right about the number of officers terminated), comes out with these stats:
We have seen the lowest police involved shootings since 2004, a 54 percent decrease in discourtesy complaints, a 45 percent decrease in excessive force complaints and lawsuits at the lowest levels in years.If true, that's interested. Especially when combined with arrests being down 65 percent from their peak. It sure seems to go against the idea that the "uprising" was some inevitable rebellion against bad and over-aggressive policing.]