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by Peter Moskos

May 10, 2009

The End of a Glorious Tradition?

Now I haven't witnessed this first hand, but it's no great secret in the police world that every now and then somebody very troublesome may be picked up and dropped off far from home. Alas, this glorious police tradition may be on the way out, at least in Baltimore. Such is the usual fate in the light of media publicity.

This gambit--I don't know what it's called, but there's got to be some good slang. I propose "going on a field trip. This gambit has probably been on the decline for a long time, and certainly at least since the spread of cell phones. But the basic concept, a long lost late-night walk home, is a classic.

Peter Hermann reports:
And we still have to figure out why two city officers on a violent crime task force drove a teen-ager to a park in Howard County and left him there without shoes and his cell phone. ... I'm hearing he was [a drug lookout and] warning friends the cops were coming.

Regardless, cops can't abduct citizens and leave them places.... If he's really obstructing, then arrest him.... Both officers are under investigation. It boggles the mind.

Not really. More mind boggling is how Hermann, a smart and savvy crime-beat reporter, could argue that arresting a lookout is a valid option. It's hard to imagine a lookout even being charged in CBIF (must less prosecuted). You think the state's attorney will take an obstruction-of-justice case based on a report that says a guy shouted "hootie-hoo" every time po-po rolled by? Have you not heard of the 1st Amendment? Not to mention tourette syndrome.

There's nothing police can do. Does that justify abduction? Not usually. But under extenuating circumstances, I'm willing to tolerate it and laugh about it later. I've been there. It's too easy to understand officers' frustration.

If abduction of lookouts isn't the answer--and admittedly is probably isn't--the only realistic alternative is to do nothing. Them's the facts in the war on drugs.


Anonymous said...

It was called road-tripping someone in my neck of the woods. Usually only used on marginal cases like those outlined in the article. Depending on the infraction, some were only a short distance, others were quite far.

Sgt. T

Anonymous said...

In the Canadian praires they are called starlight tours, and have led to deaths.

Check out this story on the CBC web site.


Anonymous said...

here is the link again


PCM said...

Here is a working link to the story.