Let me get these off my chest. Late last night I wrote this to somebody:
As a description of police culture and day-to-day to policing, the report too often just doesn't get it. I found errors based on a few things I know or could fact check from home. And given that I know a few of the stories are bullshit, it makes me question all of them. This is the DOJ, not some anti-police rag. They need to make sure everything they say is true. And it's simply not.Page 37 of the report describes a loitering arrest that "violates constitutional due process requirements":
The officer then--without any warning--arrested the men for trespassing.... In September 2011, a BPD officer similarly arrested a man “loitering directly beside the 2501 E. Preston Street Greater Missionary Baptist Church.” The officer made the arrest after asking the man “why he was in the area” and learning that the man “had no business near the area of the [church’s] steps.” Each of these arrests violates constitutional due process requirements because the arrested individuals lacked notice that their apparently innocent behavior was unlawful.This is the DOJ. These are serious charges. They need to be right.
The loitering law does indeed state (among other things) that a person must be warned before being arrested. [The bigger violation among police in making loitering arrests is ignoring the essential "in such a manner as to interfere with the free passage of (pedestrian/vehicle) traffic" part of the law. But that's another story.]
[It's why, if you've ever been to Baltimore, there are so many "no loitering/no trespassing" signs on stoops. Those signs tell cops, "Yes please, go right ahead and keep people from sitting on my steps." Now whether or not we want police to make any loitering or trespass arrests is a another issue, but many residents (and churches) in Baltimore don't want to come home from work and find drug dealers on their stoop. Honest people may not want to leave their house and have to ask drunks to step aside. Huh? Imagine that. But the DOJ doesn't mention that a lot of low-level police enforcement is initiated by citizens and politicians. What are cops supposed to do? Ignore calls for service because it's "just" a minor crime hardly worth enforcing?]
Well I don't police that block anymore (never did much, actually, it was Sector 3), but we can all zip over to 2501 E. Preston on google streetview! (What a world we live in) There's a "no loitering/no trespassing" sign right there, clearly visible (if blurred out). Police do not have to issue a verbal warning for this trespass arrest, because the sign provides the warning. This is covered under §6-401 (formally Art 27 Sec 576, from which I'm copying): "...did trespass and enter upon the property of ______ said property being posted against trespassers in a conspicuous manner." This arrest is clearly not a violation of "constitutional due process requirements." How can the Department of Justice be ignorant of the law?
[Originally I said "loitering" when I meant trespassing. That makes me a bit ignorant, too. But along with being a bit rusty on all the BS charges, I was thrown off because the damn report says he was "loitering." Indeed, you arrest a loiterer for trespassing. I also think we would sometimes colloquially call such arrests "loitering." But the actual charge is "trespassing." I've updated the post a bit to reflect this.]