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by Peter Moskos

November 29, 2017

RIP Sean Suiter

Detective Suiter's funeral was today.

I was fine. Until I clicked on this audio.



At least in New York City it's OK to cry in public.

An NYPD friend just told me they don't have do this in New York. It's a BPD thing. And I'm proud of it.

I don't know how the dispatcher manages to do this. It's not like she practices. It's all in the delivery. The slight annoyance as she can't raise an officer. The mundane tone because this happens every day. Going to the sequence number? That's a bit extreme. But why isn't 6443 answering the radio? Because, of course, 6443 is 10-7. Out of service. In this case, dead.

From this I learned that I was the 72nd officer hired after Sean Suiter, which means (since I was the last person hired in my class) Sean was in the class before me, 99-4. Our paths crossed many times, though I have no memory of him.

Here's what I wrote about this radio ritual in Cop in the Hood:
Twenty months in Baltimore wasn’t very long, but it was long enough to see five police officers killed in the line of duty. And there were other cops, friends of mine, who were hurt, shot, and lucky to live. A year after I quit the force, my friend and academy classmate became the first Baltimore policewoman killed in the line of duty, dying in a car crash on the way to back up another police officer.

Crystal Sheffield patrolled opposite me in the Western District. Occasionally I would switch my radio over to the Western District channel to see what she was up to. When she died, I returned to Baltimore, hitched a ride in a police car from the train station to the funeral, and stood in the cold rain at attention in my civilian clothes with my uniformed fellow officers. Police funerals are one of the few events that bring together law enforcement personnel. Funerals give meaning to that often clich├ęd concept of Blue Brotherhood. At an officer’s funeral, police-car lights flash as far as the eye can see. Thousands of police officers wearing white gloves and black bands on their badges stand at attention. Guns are fired in salute. Bagpipes are played. A flag is folded. The coffin is lowered into the ground.

At the end of a Baltimore police funeral, a dispatcher from headquarters calls for the fallen officer over all radio channels. The response, of course, is silence. After the third attempt the dispatcher states the officer is “10- 7.” Ten-seven is the rather unsentimental radio code for “out of service.” Ten-seven usually refers to a car, an officer handling a call, or an anonymous murder victim on the street. To hear your friend and colleague described as 10-7 is heartbreaking. In this way the few officers left working the streets know the burial is complete.

A few seconds later a routine drug call is dispatched or one bold officer reclaims the radio airwaves for some mundane police matter. A car stop. A warrant check. A request for a case number. The show goes on. Sometimes it just don’t make sense.
A few hours after today's funeral another Baltimore cop was shot. In the hand. Non fatal. But very possibly career ending. As I wipe the tears from my eyes, it doesn't make sense.

November 17, 2017

Baltimore Officers Cleared

The saga is finally nearly over for the officers involved in the 2015 arrest and deadly transport of Freddie Gray. Today Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer on scene was cleared of all administrative charges in relation to the case. Last week Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was acquitted of all 21 administrative charges. Two other officer agreed to minor discipline to avoid an administrative hearing. Had these officers been convicted of any administrative charge, they could have been fired at the discretion of the police commissioner.

There is still one more administrative trial on the docket, for Sgt Alicia White. But with the two officers most culpable acquitted (the van driver and the highest ranking officer), Sgt White will almost assuredly be acquitted as well. This is finally the end. All officers had previous been acquitted of criminal charges (or the charges were dropped). The family of Freddie Gray received $6.8 million dollars from the city. But the city itself has yet to recover from the two-thirds increase in deadly violence crime that immediately followed the 2015 riots.

RIP Sean Suiter


Baltimore City Detective Sean Suiter was shot and killed two days ago while doing his job.

I didn't know Sean, but he also came up in 1999. He had 18 years on. Were I still a Baltimore Police Officer, that could be me. His killer has not been arrested.

After his shooting I glued online to KGA, Baltimore police radio dispatch. The sadness in the voices of the dispatchers and officers was palpable. But the show goes on. The calls kept coming. There is no time-out in policing. And the routine bullshit calls keep coming. Kids were fighting in the downtown Starbucks. A man named Precious Romeo wanted his a woman removed from his house (I'm not making that up). An officer in the Eastern was at the front door of a caller but his bodycam wouldn't activate. He was told to 10-18 (return to the district) to fill out related paperwork (thanks, federal consent decree). I wonder what the caller thought about that. And there were two other unrelated shooting victims within a few hours. One victim walked himself into Shock Trauma, adding to the chaotic scene there. There weren't enough crime labs available for all the crime scenes. Another man was shot in the Eastern District. The Central and Western Districts were all but shut down by police activity. Officers and dispatchers were snapping at other (which is rare).

After a few hours of crazy chaos, things returned to the usual choas. Detective Suiter would live another day, but we knew it was futile, with the gunshot wound to his brain.

Rest in peace, Detective Suiter. My heart goes to his wife, his five children, and all who loved him. Rest in peace.