The optimist in me hopes it will be hammer that improves the department and the lives of police officers and Baltimoreans. The report brings up problems I've spent over a decade bitching about. So good. Cops don't want to work in a dysfunctional police department. Maybe this will change that. (One can dream...)
And I hate zero-tolerance policing. But today's politicians are trying to pass the buck to the past for present failures. Stop blaming "the early 2000's" for what is going on today. And those horrible O'Malley days when I was a cop? Crime and homicide were lower; and there were no riots. That should count for something.
Too many of the examples of bad policing are A) good policing or B) completely misinterpreted/misunderstand on a situational and legal basis. And it bothers me because this isn't an undergraduate paper I can correct. It's the friggin Department of Justice! Of course some anecdotes are examples of bad policing. But take that that damn dragging a seven-year-old kid off his bike incident from 2007. That was an example of bad parenting (and bad reporting), not bad policing. If that's used against police, I don't know which anecdotes I can believe. Too many Terry Stops do become illegal searches. I know that. And too many cops are rude to people. I know that, too. Preach on and spread The Word. But is every damn complaint lodged against police God's unalterable truth? Get real.
I'll write more later, but for now I'm going to cut and paste (with permission) from my good friend Leon Taylor. He grew up in the Eastern. We were exchanging emails last night as we were both reading the report until I finished and went to bed under the glow of rosy-fingered dawn.
Police are a crime fighting entity, not a cost effective social outreach unit. Teach every officer that they police communities. Stop hiring white police who feel they're some sort of heroes, and whose friends laud them for working in a "war zone." Stop hiring Black Police who don't understand that they'll be disciplined more harshly than White Police.
Will somebody please own up to the fact that the same politicians who criticize Police are responsible for bettering the communities that Police serve?
The report only pays lip service to the real problem of socioeconomic disparity. People think of "The Police" as a faceless, soulless entity, when in fact, the "Police" experience more of the human condition than most scholars and politicians. You say "Stop Police Trauma"; I say "Stop Traumatizing Police."
Police everywhere are a direct reflection of the communities they serve. It's extremely difficult to have a functional police department in a dysfunctional community. We need to stop using police as a societal band aid to cover wounds that require complex surgical procedures and intense rehabilitation. There's no use touting police reform as the panacea to all of our social ills if that ends political reform. Political reform will have a lasting positive effect on the communities most at risk in this country.
Fuck community policing. It's just for show.
I know we try so hard to be cavalier about it, but the truth is we're not staying up all night reading this document because we don't care. Quite the contrary. We do. You can't police Baltimore the right way and come away from it unchanged. You can't forget what you've seen. I could sleep better if I could. And I can't imagine how those charged to improve the quality of life for Baltimoreans can sleep at all.
One one think "healing the city" would be a simple enough task, given the mayor appoints both the Police Commissioner and the Director of Public Safety. I mean, they do report directly to the Mayor's office.
Maybe the real issue here isn't to investigate the police in Baltimore, but to investigate the other social services services in the affected neighborhoods. If they're not up to par or non-existent, there's no way the police service can be up to standard. The level of dysfunction in the community is simply too overwhelming.
I'm reminded of former PC Batts, knocking on doors to talk to residents in high crime neighborhoods, never understanding, as any BPD rookie knows, that that's a good way to get someone killed. I'm reminded of Mayor Rawlings-Blakes' "those who wish to destroy" comment which precipitated the riots last year. Both are examples of presumably well meaning but woefully uninformed assessments of the realities of life in some Baltimore neighborhoods.
Ferguson and Baltimore are two completely different situations, but both play extremely well to the masses. You can't police Baltimore like Beverly Hills. Ideally, you should be able to -- that should be the goal -- but I'm too much of a realist to suggest it's even remotely possible. I'm all for making things better, call it police reform, if you will.
But we also need political reform. We need a societal overhaul to even begin to address the issues that drive violent crime in places like Baltimore. Where else in the U.S. (or the world) would anything less than 300 homicides a year for a population of 620,000 be cause for celebration?