Wednesday, January 9, 2008

pigtown crime, etc.

I wonder what our blogger Carol Ott makes of all the TV and newspaper articles about the crime in pigtown. Though I'm sure the burglar caught did a fair number of jobs, I doubt that he was alone. One little tidbit in the paper I did catch was that he (and others) broke into houses with alarms, and ripped the sirens off the wall, figuring they could get away before the cops came. Hmmm. Not such a great police response time, huh; but whaddaya expect when half or more of the day shift is sitting in court? And the others are handling accidents and taking other reports.

Most burglars shy away from alarmed premises, and the fact that some are not is scary. People, the alarm just means that they've now arrived. You also need good locks, and doors, and grates, and windows to delay their entry.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

College campus risks

Just received my issue of Campus Law Enforcement Journal. On the cover is a group of officers taking down and arresting an "active shooter". (Active shooter is a phrase which has come into police/college lingo over the last several years since Columbine and now Virginia Tech. Most shootings happen and are over and done with by the time police arrive; active shooter implies the guy is going around repeatedly shooting people right now.) While it is important to plan a response to something like this, the notion that campus police would captre an "active shooter" is, I believe, overstated. Very few active shooters are going to be taken alive--if any. They shoot who their messed up mind tells them to shoot, and then, usually at the approach of police, shoot themselves.

Despite the gravity of VT and Columbine, an active shooter is still the rarest of events, thank goodness.

In the same issue, sexual assault against women in college is also covered in the back in a smaller article. It is much more likely to happen than an active shooter, and schools are struggling, sometimes more, sometimes less, to get a handle on it.

As with all emergencies or crisis, the manager should prepare for three phases in dealing with it: prevention, response/mitigation, and recovery. Buz argues that always, the most important is prevention. Once an active shooter, becomes "active", in essence, you've already lost, you can only hope to mitigate by your response--even if you're able to do that. In almost all these kinds of cases there are what Gavin de Becker calls "pre incident indicators": usually the suspect(s) will say or otherwise do someting to indicate they are deeplky troubled and//or vioilently inclinded. If only those who heard/saw could have effectively done something. The Virginia Tech police did their part, but really, he had sent several red flags up and needed to be suspended from campus. Oh, I forgot, he had rights to privacy, etc.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Death of an officer

So sad to see a person of such niceness struck down by a hit-and-run drunk driver (we think).

Here's hoping:

*That the MDTA police and the Maryland Transportation Authority recognize the high risks of the situation the officer was placed in: darkness, New Year's Eve and its concurrent heavy drinking, and working on an interstate. Flares and barrels won't protect your number one asset: personnel! These kind of situations need vehicles between the speeding and aggressive interstate drivers and the officers--preferably those big MDot dumptrucks with the bright flashing lights and arrows. It's no panacea, but ideally the driver will notice and not hit that, but if they do, some protection will be afforded the people. By the way, is there any way in hell we can get people to slow down on the interstates?

*That they make a case against the Block stripper who almost certainly was driving and hit this officer. They've got an uphill battle, though, since one of the elements of drunk driving is that the offficer or witnesses see the suspect actually in control of the car. Perhaps one of her Block bar bunkies can be pressured to reveal they saw her get into the car.......even that is weak. Maybe her insurance company will raise her rates.

*That somebody figures out how that suspect vehicle made it all the way from the accident scene to the rest stop in Cecil County without being noticed. Buz thinks that there were two few cops on the interstate and they all rushed to the scene, or were tied up off the highway with arrests or handling accidents. That car had half the windshield cracked!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Ten worst things for security that happened in 07

Some thoughts on the top ten BAD things to happen insofar as security went during the past year:

1. Rape and home invasion of a woman (grandmother) in the Tuxedo Park neighborhood of Greater Roland Park in Baltimore by two men--just down the street from Eddie's supermarket. Very unusual crime for this area. The perpetrators of this are still at large as we speak. An initial arrest was made on a detective's hunch, because the extremely violent offender he had in mind really fit. Unfortunately, he was released when no DNA recovered at the scene matched him. The woman spent several weeks in the hospital as a result of physical injuries. No telling how long the emotional injuries may take to heal.

2. Rape of a woman employee leaving the offices of the Govans Ecumenical Development Corporation in the Govans area of North Baltimore. She was beaten and robbed by three men. Buz senses a possible connection, due to the similar violent nature of the crimes and the closeness geographically, but wonders if anyone in the police department has thought about that.

3. The interesting statistics that: homicides are up, shootings are up, sex offenses are up, but the department tells us that violent crime is down! Huh!? Buz wonders that the same violent people committing the first three offenses are somehow not robbing or assaulting people in other ways. What's up with that!? Buz thinks that robberies and aggravated assaults are simply not being reported (unless the victims are shot or killed) because such a huge part of Baltimore is mired in the drug world--and those crimes cannot be reported to the police. Drug use, purchasing, or selling are not legitimately-protected enterprises. Only predatory lending is.

4.Our city leaders lost an opportunity to have a teachable moment when poor little 7 or 8 year-old was arrested on a dirt bike in East Baltimore. Of course, the officer shouldn't arrest a kid that young! And he could have taken him home........but to the home of mom who bought him the very small child-size dirtbike with helmet to match!? Someone should have said: dirt bikes are illegal to ride in the city; especially for a child so young; they are extremely hazardous to the rider; especially to a child so young; on some days hordes of dirtbikes take over whole blocks and neighborhoods in the city while law-abiding citizens have to put up with their noise and the risk of an "accident" with these miscreants; not a good atmosphere to allow in the city; especially to a child so young; the proliferation of off-road vehicles (watch them go up onto the curb and ride into Druid Hill Park) contrijbutes to a climate of lawbreaking in this city which is already suffering from violence, the defacto legalization of drugs, and witness intimidation. No city for young men; especially a child so young.

5. The fact that Loyola College feels it has to use off-duty city police to patrol York Road late in the evening to protect its barhopping students since several incidents of robbery and assault have occurred in the area. However, one student appeared on TV and suggested the College provide shuttles from the York/Belvedere bar area back to school in the early morning hours, since "there are simply not enought cabs".

6. The fact that even Barnes & Noble in Towson uses off-duty county police officers for security (armed, of course).

7. Virginia Tech: what can we say more? The breakdown at almost all levels of campus security thinking can occur in any large organization (except for the cops who shot off the chains on the door and still rushed into the building-not knowing the suspect had already killed himself).

8. This same type of organizational breakdown/inertia was evident in the death of a Baltimore City Fire trainee early this year.

9. We are seeing the rush to have colleges purchase expensive emergency notification systems as somehow a lesson learned from Virginia Tech; no one seems to ask: who decides on when do send these messages, what should one say, and what is the right thing to tell folks to do.

10. The fact tht violence is such a fact of life in Baltimore; at most schools knowing how to fight is one of your most important skills. Buz thinks that that fact contributes dramatically to the fact that kids drop out jor join gangs or both.

More on some of these thoughts later.