Thursday, December 17, 2009

Buz gets dispersed!

Buz read with interest all the hullabaloo about the community activist and leader in Union Square who got arrested, then unarrested, then got cited in a beef with one of the Southern District boys in blue. Basically, he calls the police, they come, then the stories diverge. Ultimately, he's told to go in his house or get locked up. Now, he being a good law-abiding citizen and all, knows that he doesn't have to, especially if he's not doing anything wrong, and he's standing on his own porch.
Well, the officer would see about that!
Now, look, we weren't there, and all we know is what we read, but usually there's two sides to a story; sorry, officer, that's the best i can do here. As far as the gentleman/landlord/community supporter of the police goes, Buz detects a whiff of "don't you know who I am".
Well, here's my little story--summed up sorta twitter style:
Buz sees a police car with its lights flashing a couple blocks away from his house.
Another police car comes rolling up, lights also flashing, blocks intersection.
Nosey ole Buz goes up to see what going on.
2nd officer has three tough-looking guys sitting on the curb, while 1st officer has 4th tough-looking guy giving some info while he's in his car.
Buz asks elderly black lady in another car if she's ok; she says the other car hit her, but she's ok, just thirsty.
I ask if she wants me to get some water for her; she says no, her friend's on the way.
2nd officer, tough, fit young guy comes over: "do you live around here, sir"?
Yes, says me.
Are you involved with this accident?
No, says me.
Well, says officer, I need you to leave the area. This is an accident investigation!
Now, Buz could have left the old lady, stood up way on the sidewalk out of the way, and said: I'm not interfering, I have every right to stand on this public street and watch!
Did we do that?!
There's little doubt in Buz's pea brain that this officer would have ignored all the tough guys, and arrested Buz, who was wearing a nice polo shirt (tucked in his nice khaki pants), sporting no tattoos, and not wearing any baseball caps--sideways or otherwise. He may even have enjoyed using the Tazer and rubbing it in at Central Booking.
Moral of story: ya can't fight city hall in the person of the cop on the beat, whether he's right or not--unless...............well, unless you want to end up like Mr. Taylor of Union Square.

Or, to paraphrase Peter Moskos, the Bmore cop turned Ph.D., you don't have to respect him, or agree with him, but you must obey him.

So, Buz, who spent nearly 30 years in the Baltimore Police Department, gets dispersed. Yeah, his arrest might have been dropped and illegal, but who wants to visit Central Booking, the 7th outer circle of hell?

So, the district commander, and the department was placed in an awkward position by this aggressive officer. They cannot openly criticize him, because the "arrestee" may sue. But betcha (4-1), this officer doesn't get a gravy special unit job anytime soon. And, yeah, we're amazed at how aggressive the Baltimore Police are after having gone to that fancy, schmancy, Adam Walinsky training this year, and we're hoping that same aggressiveness is keeping the crime down this year. But maybe a nuance or two, guys?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Let's lock up! A Christmas season crime alert

Buz has read in the Messenger, a local paper which covers North Baltimore, that the community of Medfield has been victimized by a "cat burglar" (the type which comes in stealthily in the middle of the night when you're home and asleep). Both occurred on the 17th of November--a Tuesday. One was in the 1400 block of Medfield Avenue, between 1230am and 7am, suspect climbed thru an unlocked rear window on the 2nd floor and took two purses. The other was in the 1400 blk. W. 41st Street; entry was gained, again, thru an unlocked rear window; resident awoke and saw the man at 3:20am; he dropped two watches, but escaped with some jewelry. I guess we can all get a little complacent about our low crime rate in our neighborhood of a high-crime city. However, these two are a wake-up call that we need to be vigilant about how someone can get into the rear of our houses.

A surprising number of burglaries occur through unlocked windows and doors (in some areas/cases as much as a quarter). Criminals thrive on a lack of security consciousness on the part of their potential victims.

I can't tell you how many times that I've traveled (or even in the city), and discovered that people don't lock their doors. Oh, we've never had a problem. Um, so, you're hoping to have one?

Now, people can be forgiven for not locking their upstairs windows, but if you don't, please be cognizant of how easy (or hard) it will be for someone to climb up there: are there good handholds and places to grab for an athletic risk-taking druggie? Don't think about whether you could do it; could a skinny, athletic tree climber/roofer type assistant do it. If yes, lock your window near to where they could get up. No guarantee, but it will go a long way.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Buz had predicted hung jury, but now..............

Over the last several months Buz has been pondering the upcoming trial of our beautiful, fit mayor, Madam Sheila Dixon.
Buz had a strong hunch: ain't no Baltimore City jury gonna convict her for nuthin'. (Please forgive the street lingo, sometimes a habit is hard to break). The reason: it only takes one juror to hold out and say that they are not going to vote to convict. They can give any reason to why they have reasonable doubt and/or why they don't believe one or more of the state's witnesses. Perhaps in a perfect world, we wish it weren't so, but it is. Thus I predicted a hung jury. And if the state retries her, another hung jury.

So, as part of my research, I pestered 4 judges (one retired) in my travels and asked them whether or not they agreed with me. Three out of 4 agreed that Buz is quite likely correct in his assessment of a likely outcome. One judge took the Warren Brown approach: that juries do not like stealing from the poor. While we agree with that in general, and that is possible, this is not a typical case. This is a mayor who is very popular in the community, and many people think that, other than this ethical taint, she is doing a good job and appoints good department heads (except all those folks on the Internet sites who want her burned alive at the stake or crucified; oops, wait a minute, isn't that Frank Reid's take? Oh, never mind).

One of my interviewees did go a step further though, based on his experience: he said that if one or two strong African American males step up and argue for conviction, they could convince the rest of the jury to go along. He has seen this happen in several cases. We're not sure that would happen in this case.

One high Baltimore executive interviewed in buz's gym said that he might not vote for conviction, and probably a lot of white people wouldn't either. He said that he would weigh the evidence, but, at the end of the day, he might say: yeah, what she did was wrong, but I'm not going to find her guilty of a crime here. She's suffered enough humiliation.

The beautiful woman who cuts Buz's hair in her Hampden shop said, for example, this is bullshit; they've spent 10 times the money chasing after her than what they said she stole.

But now, a new revelation: the state lost all courage and is refusing to call the affable Mr. Lipscomb to the stand. I'm sure I know why: the defense was just licking it's chops ready to cross-examine him and destroy him on the stand. Can you imagine the questions they would ask? And, even more, can you imagine the image he and his answers would represent in the mind of jurors? Um, Mr. Lipscomb, how many LLCs are you involved with? Why so many?, etc.etc.
So, now, the jury is left with what? Your consultant (who doesn't do jury consulting) can just imagine the jury thinking: is that all there was? Some gift cards left at city hall, the our lady mayor might have used one or more of? But she never acknowledged them or ever thanked him for them--even though she was later with him at a small party. And why is a developer, who wears a beard, and a suit coat with no tie, and builds fancy, schmancy condos out of old grain silos (costing zillions of $$) leaving gift cards for the mayor? Like, what sort of favors does he want? Like, why didn't he say: sure, I'll give gift cards to Goodwill, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and Beans & Bread. Nah, I'll drop em off at city hall with the mayor's name on em; they'll, you know, get where they belong.
Now, Buz really, really thinks, not only hung jury, but a good chance of outright acquittal.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Drunk drivers and the killing of the Hopkins Student

Buz has been following the story of the numbnuts who wandered around the city last week, scaring the beejesus out of everybody, both before and after he hit a Hopkins student, left the scene, did not render aid, and she later died.

We shook our head in dismay, but hardly in surprise. More than 30 years ago, I used to go to traffic court a lot, and had arrested a fair number of drunk drivers myself. I was amazed at how many of the offenders in court were repeat offenders. And I began to realize how weak the Maryland law is on boozehounds. It eventually dawned on me that fines, license suspensions/revocations and the threat of jail does not deter and does not punish these folks.

Ya don't need a license to drive, you only need a set of car keys. So, the only real way to stop them is to, for some period of time, take their car away--on the first offense, and longer on subsequent offenses. Of course, I know: it might be someone else's car they are driving, and there may be "hardship" in the family. tough. Gotta do the time if you're gonna do the crime. And it has to be combined with jail, or the threat of jail, along with some kind of treatment for his alcohol problem. Not to mention the lack of responsibility problems these folks have.

Jail and treatment work for some folks, but not for many. Time after time, people who get convicted for drunk driving charges simply continue driving.

Only jail and seizing their car, or the car they were driving would stop them.

In this latest case: more questions arise than are answered:
  • Why was he out on only $100,000 bail while he was awaiting trial?
  • Didn't the jurist who set the bail have any concern for public safety (unlike the distinguished her honor Nancy Shugar)?
  • Who paid the bail?
  • Did he put up a house he owned?
  • Did a relative put up a house?
  • Or did one of our bondsmen offer him a get out of jail 1% bail, financing the other $9K, so poor little drunkard could go home to have another one on us.
  • Who's car was he driving?
  • How did he get tags?
  • Who insured that vehicle?
The sad truth is all of us are complicit in some small way in that Hopkins student's death: our ambivalence toward drinking; our legislature full of wine-drinking defense attorneys; our love of Ravens and tailgating (betcha they're not drinking Pepsi out there); our ignoring people driving away from Ravens games with beers in their hand; our night clubs offering deals to get you drunk as a skunk before you go back to the dorm; judges and MVA officials who fall for sob stories, and the drinkers themselves, who love the taste and their high--but don't want to take any responsibility for what they do drunk (everybody wants to get to heaven, but nobody wants to die). The list could go on for a while.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Crime Tip of the Day: Keep your eyes and ears open when entering convenience stores

Buz went into the Royal Farms Store in the area of his palatial residence on the border of Hampden and Medfield on 41st Street. They have the nicest staff there of all the Farm Stores!
While waiting for his decidedly unhealthy chicken dinner to be put together, your consultant chatted about possible job openings for his nonprofit clients.

The pretty gal who was waiting on me said "sure, they're hiring, but it's a dangerous job"! Whaddaya mean, we said. She said that she was working there about 5 weeks ago when two guys with guns came in and robbed the place. She said that though they didn't hurt her or take any of her personal belongings, they really scared her. Now, this gal does not look like the type who scares easily. She told me that it was about 7pm. I said, wow, it was still light out back then. She said: "I know, people are just crazy".
And we had also just read about the Dunkin Donuts, just up the block on 41st Street also getting robbed recently--about 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. But I'm not really surprised; police uniformed patrol has been cut to the bone. And betcha (2-1), it even worse on Sunday afternoons during the "season".

I have read the working in a convenience store is one of the leading causes of injuries or death for women: while being killed in robberies (or hurt during them). So, her anecdotal evidence was buttressed by national statistics. {Also read recently where another Royal Farms employee had hot chocolate thrown in her face by a robber.} Unfortunately, we must have compassion for the poor employees in these circumstances who have to take these job, at which, while the pay is competitive, come with certain risks by nasty thugs.

So, your consultant urges dear readers: before going into any convenience type or chain store, take a peek inside before you go in: this is especially important for fast food joints, convenience stores, and places open all night or late. If something doesn't feel right, or you feel uncomfortable for some reason, don't go in. I know, I know, it's probably not gonna be obvious, but, still, look.
As we're getting close to Halloween (a sacred sacrament day in some neighborhoods), the weather, especially in the evening is getting colder and the hoods are coming up and on. And the hoods of the other kind are coming out with their hoods up, making them hard to see and recognize. Alas, holdup season is probably getting ready to gear up.

The highest crime time of the year is generally the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Cold weather, shopping, and hoods and bulky coats work together to make it a challenging time for crime prevention.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Crime Tip of the Day: Keep your bikes inside where there are no windows!

Buz took his trusty bike to Joe's Bike Shop in Mt. Washington the other day for a tuneup, new tire, and new odometer. While he was there, we chatted with a gal who mentioned that she was shopping for a new bike, since hers had just gotten stolen at her place in Charles Village.

She related how she kept her bike outside on her deck at her palatial CV property, but it was chained and locked to her deck. And lo and behold she came out to look for it, and it was gone!

The chain was still there, but the suspect(s) literally took her deck apart in order to get at the bike, after climbing over a high fence to get to it.

Well, I'm pretty sure the walls in Charles Village are no match for the athletic burglars who live in and near there. And usually, most walls have handholds and grips where miscreants can boost themselves and climb up the wall. Most of these so-called privacy fences and walls only provide a modest measure of security.
The next point is that bikes are, in the city that drives, a very often-stolen commodity for some reason, particularly around the Hopkins campus. If bikes are seen outside visible anywhere, these strange bike criminals will move heaven and earth to get to them. I know of one case in Roland Park, where several bikes were in a shed, but the shed had a glass casement style window, with very secure locking system. Nevertheless, the crooks came and used tools, made a bit of noise, but literally pried the entire window out of its frame (not even trying to defeat the lock), climbed thru the window and passed the 4 bikes out and vanished. (The shed's door remained locked). It really took a lot of work!

Buz always is amazed at the mechanical skill and virtuosity that these burglars possess. You have to wonder why they never put those skills to use in decent jobs, instead of turning into thieves and ne'er-do-wells.

However, for us poor law-abiding folks: if you don't want your bike to fall into the possession of one of Baltimore's bike-stealing rings: you must keep it inside, and inside means in the house. If you can only put it/them in a shed, the shed MUST NOT have windows, where the bike can be seen. The best bet is to put it into the house and away from windows. I give credit for this tip to the owner of the defunct Horizon Cycles on York Road, Marty, from whom I bought his last Bianchi, before he went out of business. (Marty also said that he did not buy any used bikes, because that simply created a stolen bike market). {Oh, you mean like pawnshops and EBay and Craigslist?}

Oh, and be sure to write the serial number down somewhere, in the unfortunate case where your bike might get stolen. The Baltimore police recover hundreds of bikes (mostly abandoned, but some with suspects and some of victims), and most do not have any reports on file of being stolen.
[by the way, the staff at Joe's were nowhere as nasty and look-down-their-noses-if-you're-not-a-world-class-bike-racer as they used to be, but when they install an odometer for ya, and you ask where the booklet is, you shouldn't get the "don't know, whaddaya need it for, we installed, you can find it on the Internet" look. Just a mild beef.]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hopkins Slasher, Kennedy Krieger hand and bag Shooting, Police crotch shooting: The Crisis of Crime in Baltimore

There have been a lot of disheartening stories about crime in Baltimore this year, but 3 are linked in Buz's iconoclastic mind: the shooting of 2 Kennedy Krieger Institute employees shot as they left work recently, not even victims or involved, but the errant shots of an angry, violent thuggy-wuggy dad who never grew up, and didn't believe in calling the cops (one of the gals was not actually shot as her handbag and contents deflected the round); the shooting by an off-duty officer of another thuggy-wuggy who, at gunpoint tried to force the officer to the floor in his own home (sources tell us that the bad guy was shot twice in his penis); and the killing of the career criminal burglar by the Hopkins undergrad this morning.

While the stats show that crime is "down" to many year lows, one has to wonder if the system of measurement is faulty. And though we are pleased that the commish and his team are doing a good job keeping murders down, along with nonfatal shootings, we have to wonder if police intervention in a private civil war is actually having the unexpected side effect of causing other criminals in other areas to be bold and not expect to get caught. And of course, with the economy still in shambles, things will probably get worse before they get better.

I wonder about the criminal justice system, not just the police, and how many, many repeat offenders are out there, who may have been stopped much earlier in their careers with proper interventions or prison.
Our police patrol force has been cut to the bone: each district has, at last check, been assigned 160 officers, for around the clock coverage--no matter how large the district or how bad its problems: the thinking is : the Violent Crimes Impact Division will take care of it. We hope

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The perils of a small business in Baltimore

Buz has learned through experience that most small businesses in Baltimore (and probably in most big cities) will eventually be victimized by crime, particularly robbed physically using force or threat of force, or broken into--burglarized.

Recently spoke to an attorney who told me that his office was in a "zero" crime happening very quiet and peaceful area of North Baltimore. In June his office was broken into overnight, the perpetrators wearing gloves. They took several desktop computers and several laptop computers, and various other electronics and various other valuable property. It was not just the theft of the machines which were a modest financial hit, but like many small business owners, sensitive personal information for his clients/customers were on the machines. He also learned that the keys to a storage locker nearby were taken, along with the pass code.

He called the storage place, and had the pass code to get into the yard and building changed. But, lo and behold, here they come up to the gate on camera and pushed and entered and fooled around with the key pad trying to get into the storage unit yard. Were these guys bold or what?

Now, the camera at the storage place got a pretty good picture of the driver's face, his tattoo, and best of all the tag number of the car. Sounds like enough for a search warrant to me. And, the storage firm had an auction that day of stuff from units that had not paid rent. These auctions allow anyone to come into the yard to look at the stuff for sale. These guys were on camera coming back, wandering around, but couldn't get into the building (the padlock on the storage unit had been changed, but......)
Despite the film being held for them, the city burglary unit detectives still (burglary happened in June) have not gotten around to following up. Now, we know their job is mostly pushing paper and "clearing" cases on paper, but here's one which not only might be solved, but these guys, if arrested, might lead to solving other cases in North Baltimore--big commercial burglaries. Wonder what's up? And why no movement here. Lawyer friend is very frustrated.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A cynic's review of recent crime news

Despite the huge drop in crime, we are experiencing, there seems to be an unending amount of crime news these days. The curmudgeon has some comments:
  • The story about the police horses seems to have taken just about the entire hour of Peter Hermann's time on WYPR yesterday. Um, it didn't really seem a lot like journalism; more like an ode to the wonder of the pretty, beautiful horsies, brave officers on top of them and the wonder of it all. Only one caller had an objection, bravely averring that officers on horseback are too distant and formidable.
  • Well, Buz wonders if the Mounted Unit is subjected to the same sorts of scrutiny which other units are at the now famous Compstat. I mean, it's only a handful of officers, a very small unit, but we just wonder: how many arrests have Mounted officers made in, say, the last year? Tickets? Any? Guns seized?
  • OK: I know, they are a "different" kind of elite unit, sort of like the honor guard, but cost a lot more: food, housing, 24/7 attention, vets, and that's not even counting the special equipment for the riders, and the salary and benefits of the hostlers and riders.
  • Of course, it's the commissioner's department. I would imagine that he has a great deal of discretion when it comes to budget cutting that's needed. So, perhaps if he really wants to keep the unit, he could by giving up something else. I'm not sure "they" out there somewhere could make him give up the unit, as long as he gave up the same amount of money. It's just that one has to be able to justify it under "public relations", or "crowd control capability" or something. But the idea of the public helping fund it is a nice try.
  • I think horse units are nice, they're great if deployed in a coherent mission, but I don't see it here. Anti-drug? Crowd Control ? (at night, too?) Traffic? Anti-crime? Public Relations? Not clear. They are probably capable of any of those things, but have significant downsides: they are not an around the clock, all weather deployment; they have to be rested frequently, and fed; the officer cannot sit there and take your report; he/she will have some difficulty in detaining a suspect who doesn't want to be detained; the horse unit runs high risks operating after dark in heavy motor traffic areas (especially with irresponsible and drunken and texting drivers; the unit is not easily and cost-effectively deployed outside of the downtown riding area (figure about an hour to load and another hour to off-load cutting into your deployment time), et al, etc. In any event, there's only a handful left.
  • The idea of having a nonprofit collect funds for the Mounted Unit is interesting and ironic. It cannot be a one-time thing, as any director of a nonprofit will tell you. If the development director of a nonprofit is unable to raise funds or get grants for ongoing operations, the nonprofit will cease to exist. Few donors want to contribute operating expenses. The irony here is that the former PAL program, when rolled out by Commissioner Frazier, was in fact a 501(c)3 full nonprofit. It was unable to raise enough money by fundraising or grants, and it essentially went out of business, even before it got euthanized this year--even though it initially had grant funding and several business supporters. But if you can't keep the money rolling, you're out of business. It has to be an ongoing thing.
  • Saw the police surveillance video of the SWD shooting of little Raven. The film is so bad, one could argue either way: at times it looks like he's got a monitor on, and other times he doesn't. In any event, the camera is so poor that one cannot recognize the face of the shooter. And this whole business with Juvenile Services and their monitoring is nonsensical.
  • Of course, from a security perspective, it just shows, once again, that cameras do not PREVENT crime in many cases: everyone knew there were cameras up there on that pole, but after a while, miscreants sorta know: they are not working, or monitored, or have such poor quality they won't show, or just aren't looking at me. And, once again, they are often of little value in CAPTURE, if the quality is so bad--unless they are actually being monitored, and have a force available to immediately respond. (like downtown, or institutions with a security force).
  • Loved (?) not right word, but was fascinated by the story of the latest breakdown of police discipline wherein a police sergeant handcuffed a homicide detective during a "dispute". One wonders, with all these bad PR things happening to the city department, if maybe they all should be assigned to the Mounted unit or something. Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Apparently, they have been infected with Aggravated John Wayne Syndrome. This syndrome is giving real, dedicated, decent officers a bad name. Seriously, there's something wrong with this picture. I mean I know policing the city is tough, but............One thing the commissioner needs to do though (perhaps the FOP might agree, but probably not): when an officer is involved in a "strange incident", e.g. silly testimony, silly video watching, crazy accidents, handcuffing people (or each other), taking people for "rides" and dropping them off, visiting a project and getting shot "on your lunch break", being accused of rape, shooting at cars off duty, pointing guns at people off duty, the list goes on, the officer(s) involved need to be taken down to Mercy for a drug test. I know it sounds weird, but the fire department is much more rigorous about this stuff.
  • On the sad death of a woman just driving down the street by the worthless, "erratic" clown fleeing the Regional Auto Theft Task Force: oops, he wasn't fleeing, he was driving because he got scared and saw police. There's almost certainly gonna be a lawsuit here; and if a supervisor ordered the chase to cease, as they say, and it continued (with ANY evidence to that), there's going to be heavy liability for the city or county or whoever.
  • In all the hullabaloo over the umpteen people shot on Ashland, the two young man murdered the same night on Conkling street have received almost no notice--like it didn't even happen. Whassap with that?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Crime news is rampant !

Wow! There has been so much news about crime lately, the Buz cannot seem to keep up. Been away working hard consulting recently, so posting has been not recent.

I was however, intrigued about how the department former Internal Affairs attorney (not sure about her exact title), is threatening to pull away the curtain on the cesspool which is Internal Affairs, according to her attorney, the famous Warren Brown.

Some thoughts on this:
  • When Buz first heard "cesspool", his silly mind actually thought that maybe Mr. Brown (a fine member of the bar, by the way), was referring to his own swimming pool in Ashburton, when a gentleman was shot in his car in the back of Mr. Brown's house. The injured driver accelerated, and the car smashed thru the wall into Warren's swimming pool. Now, that's a cesspool! {Buz respects Warren Brown, and was glad that nobody was injured in his family; I believe the victim died, though.}
  • During her little news conference, she did not really cite any specifics except some generalities about her supervisor "tampering" with her cases. She did cite the strange case of the KKK websites, and the prosecution of Terry Love, and the alleged Southwestern District rape case--which have been widely written about in
  • She mentions people who have had charges modified and plead guilty to lesser charges, etc. Buz wonders if she ever engaged in plea bargaining when she was a prosecutor for all those years.
  • She also mentioned that the Commissioner did not follow trial board recommendations at times. Well, that's his prerogative as commissioner; he can't change the verdict, but he can do anything he wants with the punishment, as long as he justifies it.
  • And yeah, there seems to be a lot of problems with discipline and disciplinary processes in the police department here (and probably elsewhere), but you know, you are not going to eliminate discretion completely: you can only structure it and make it be justified--which this department has tried to do. To believe and argue that all discipline should be somehow standardized strikes me as naive. A lot depends on the exact nature of the offense, the offender's record, and the degree of culpability and intent. There are few exact matches. Now, if you have mean and nasty and bad people, no discipline system will be fair. At least the commissioner is saying:ok, we're gonna settle these cases and move on.
  • The real cesspool is what's inside the minds of most of Mr. Brown's clients. He makes his living defending people accused of murder and other heinous crimes in Baltimore.
On the shooting of the Western District officers yesterday: why was only one officer present on a domestic violence call? And when he called the suspect on the cellphone, why did he ask him to come back to meet him? To chat about it? To "get this all straightened out"? To arrest him? Now, clearly, the suspect thought that it was going to be the latter, probably because he'd been arrested in other domestic violence cases before. Perhaps the officer should have called for another unit to meet him, with the suspect on the way. Not criticizing, just would like to have some more details. In any event, two officers should have been dispatched on a domestic violence or disorderly call; it may not have made a difference, but it may have caused Mr. Tough Guy to not try to be so tough. Or was he really looking for suicide by police?

Sometimes, I think that the website Investigative Voice is determined to convince its readers that the Baltimore Police Department is an unusual hotbed of racism, sexism, KKK members, and what...............? We just don't think it's like that. Was the Baltimore Police Department a racist organization in the past? Absolutely. Are there racists still working there? Probably. Is it a place full of vicious racists? I don't think so. (in fact, the last stat I saw was that 44% of the officers are other than Caucasian). And we have had several black commissioners: Bishop Robinson, Tilghman, Eddie Woods, and other high-ranking command staff. Your consultant thinks that over time, the people actually working out on the street pretty much get along and work together, no matter who they are: and it's us against the criminals. The hard part is dealing with the petty internal politics and backbiting, and touting of your buddies, and sucking up, and badmouthing others who are not part of your clique.

Of course, like most citizens, we are distressed to see all the bad press the cops get for doing stupid stuff. And we wish they were more disciplined. But we also hope that when we read stories, that there is a measure of balance and judgment, and considering of sources, and context. The average officer out there, patrolling right now, deserves a fair shake and nothing less. Let's not make their job out there harder.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Buz gets jury duty

Well, Buz, like all good citizens in Baltimore got his jury duty summons a while back, and kinda felt relieved: his number was 900. Wow! I thought: very unlikely to be called, since it used to be that if your number was higher than 600, you were saved by the night-before phone call which told you not to come.

Well, were we wrong! Saw a judge at the gym over the weekend, and he said that they often go well into the 900s, but he thought that many judges were not around in this Baltimore July. (Of course, he didn't bother to add that not many jurors were likely to be around in this Baltimore July.)

Alas, our luck ran out. The recording said that jurors with the numbers up to and including 900 must report. Dang! (Why do we all hate jury duty?) But like a good soldier, Buz had made up his mind to go ahead and make the best of it. So, he took some real paper newspapers, the book about the Columbine massacre, and an Alan Furst novel (if you haven't read Alan Furst, you're missing great reading).

So, the next thing to do was to figure out how to best get there. And guess what: the MTA Maryland has a great web site, where you can plug in your starting location, ending location, time you want to arrive, and it uses all-powerful google to tell you what bus, where and when.

So, I plugged in 4300 Roland Avenue, near the water tower, and 100 St. Paul Street; it told me the bus would be at University and Somerset at 737am, arriving across from the courthouse at 8am or so. The bus arrived at 7:38 am. Is this a great transit system, or what!
My adventure:
  • The bus ride was a piece of cake (of course, it was the #61, coming down Roland Avenue from Lake). I didn't have the hassle of driving and looking for a place to park, or walking from the parking place to the courthouse (and paying for the parking,either).
  • It was a new bus and had like 7 or 8 security cameras in the ceiling. No rioting kids, no problem, but the bus got very crowded as it wound its way down St. Paul to the downtown area. $3.50 got me an all day pass, and I got off right across the street from the Clarence Mitchell courthouse. Did not wear my tie this time: too hot, and I got selected for a civil case despite it. (No criminal cases for Buz).
  • Very long line of jurors waiting to get thru security; it looked as though all 900 decided to show up to see the movie. So we went across from the courthuse to a little snack shop to get some unhealthy snacks (and brew!) to hold us over as we waited in the line. Saw a high-ranking sheriff in there that I knew from back in the day in the pd. Asked him how it was going, and was he keeping up on all the discipline problems in BPD. He said, interestingly, it's the same in his organization: guys going around doing stupid stuff, getting into trouble. He also said a lot of sheriff deputies left for greener pastures, found out they're not greener, want to come back, but couldn't because of the hiring freeze.
  • As we were waiting to go thru the scanner into the courthouse, a huge deputy said: "Ladies and Gentlemen: be mindful of what's in your pockets! Be mindful of what's in your pockets!" Huh? Wha...? Is he into some kind of yoga meditation or something? A new kind of court & pocket mindfulness? I know being mindful and in the present moment is healthy, but in my pocket? Does he think I might have a gun or knife in my pocket? The lady behind me said it: somebody emptied their pocket, and there was weed. Buz didn't notice that, but wondered: what do they do if someone has weed? : lock him/her up (do they credit them with jury duty?); confiscate the weed, continue on for your jury duty (we'll give it back to you when you're done--then lock you up); keep the weed, and pretend it didn't happen; throw it down the court house toilet, or what? Just wonderin'.
  • Buz was impressed by the cross section of Baltimoreans who came to jury duty: these are the taxpaying (for the most part), law abiding (for the most part), good citizens here to do their civic duty. It's actually, in its own way, impressive to watch. I know, I know: the OJ case and all. But I subscribe to what the attorney Bob Verderaime told me long ago: most jurors try to do the right thing most of the time.
  • The quiet room was very quiet; it was amazing how the people there actually abide by the rules and don't talk much, and whisper when they do. The main sound heard all day was the "bing" when emails came into people's laptops.
  • Buz was coming back from the water cooler when he noticed Baltimore Brew on this woman's laptop, on which she had been furiously typing all morning. is her website, and she is Fern Shen, a former Evening Sun and Washington Post reporter who writes in a positive vein about Baltimore stuff. (I guess my reader who things the city should be burned to the ground won't like that site.) So, we whispered a bit, and I introduced myself; she had read my humble blog from time to time, and it's always good to put a face to the writing.
  • Anyway, groups were called, went, came back, and I learned a big murder trial was going to start somewhere in the building; that's why they summoned so many. Since I was 900, i didn't even go to a court room by lunch time.
  • For lunch, I went to Au Bon Pain in the old Alex Brown building, er, old Deutsche Bank building, and now it's named something else. But they still had all the traders coming down from upstairs, to get sustenance while they were hard at work practicing banker gangsterism, ruining the economy, and trading worthless pieces of paper with each other. Oh, and making a lot of money, too. However, all the traders were nice and well-dressed, and it's a nice place to eat.
  • Back to court and called for a case. A civil case: two white guys, maybe around 60, in suits, get into a road rage fight in Cockeysville(?), and one severely injures the other. HUH? Cockeysville?! Your consultant couldn't help but wonder why the case was moved to Baltimore City: certainly not to get a jury of their peers. Perhaps they knew all the judges in the county, know what I'm sayin? Perhaps one of them felt he couldn't get a fair trial because he was a well-known big-shot. Who knows!?
  • Of course, Buz did not get selected for this jury. He had been in a couple civil cases in the line of duty as a police officer. No lawyer is gonna take the risk of having him on the jury. However, Fern did get selected! We're hoping to hear a full report of the vicious beating one of these county residents sustained, and the jury's verdict.
  • Upon rejection, back to the quiet room for a little quiet. We were dismissed at 4; it was over for another year.
  • Buz made his way up to Charles Street to wait for the northbound #61 to take him back to the water tower on Roland. What an interesting, fascinating vibrant thing it was to sit in the shade and watch the city evening rush hour evolve. Even saw a woman bicyclist in heels with helmet and dress riding up Charles; nobody was getting banked (except down at the old Alex Brown building). And it was really interesting taking the bus, and being able to look out the window, noticing things one rarely did when one has to watch the traffic and lights and other cars. This bus was an older clunker and every bump banged and clanged; only 4 security cameras in the ceiling, none in the way back where all the good guys hang out. Was glad the woman who was talking out loud to herself and everybody else got off. Was glad that the people who were boorishly talking on their cellphones got off eventually.
  • Noticed a lot of security in this late afternoon around the JHU Homewood campus, guards on bikes posted up and a HopCop or two in their Honda CRVs.
  • Up to Somerset and University, exited the rear door as directed by the lovely computer voice, one of my neighbors holding the door for me. And on to the Wine Underground to get a cool, refreshing beverage in order to recover from this onerous task.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Weekend incident in Hampden, little reporting, and a negative to our democracy

Buz was struck how the recent incident in Hampden received next to no news scrutiny. Last Sunday night: several dozen police, many streets blocked off, not only to cars, but also to pedestrians, hundreds of residents watching, bunches of them "trapped" in their houses, armed dangerous man in his house with or without hostages, tear gas, police shooting the street lights out, helicopter circling overhead---all for hours.

And nary a peep in the Sun, except a 13-second blurb from its media "partner" WJZ. Oh, and a small piece in the Messenger by Adam Bednar.

Why? Not because people weren't interested: Buz's little blog posting about the incident got more comments than he has ever had before. And it drew a wide range of comments about the incident. I suppose this is the advantage of "web 2.0", but we'd really like to hear more details about the incident: the basics of what really happened, unearthed by a professional reporter, an official statement from the police, what happened during the standoff, what were the charges against what suspect, etc., etc., etc.: did he make bail, what is the bail, what is the trial date,and so forth.
But, nada: all the reporters were off, because the Sun doesn't have enough money to pay them to work on Saturdays, Sunday, holidays, etc. So, just using this as an example, whatever happens on weekends, stays on weekends, just between the police and the thugs and what little the neighbors learn among each other and the few neighborhood bloggers out there.

It's the coming wave. Wal-Mart first featured the race to the bottom, now we're feeling the results of Wall Street's race to the bottom; the democracy suffers from lack of information for its citizens to know about what's going on, and perhaps maybe we would've got a Tweet if we were on Twitter..............but only if the police felt we should. (The Sun had always been a profitable paper, but Craigslist and Wall Street combined to make that not matter). So, of course, we don't need the Sun: we can find out all we need to know on line. Maybe.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Barricade Situation in Hampden!

Buz has just returned from visiting an ongoing barricade situation in the 3600 blk. of Paine Street in Hampden. Details are sketchy, but police have all of 36th Street closed from Chestnut Avenue to Roland Avenue--almost all of that closed to pedestrians, as well as cars. Elm Avenue and 36th Street has been established as the command post. Several command vehicles are there, plus 2 emergency services trucks, and a big black van serving as the headquarters of the negotiators. EMS personnel and a fire truck from the Hampden station were standing by just in case.
Major Ross Buzzoro, the district commander was there in his civvies (he gets no extra money for coming in on Sunday night to oversee the festivities).

It appears that one old Hampden man, who has an affection for cool, refreshing beverages, and in his spare time maintains Redman's Hall on Hickory, was being picked on by some neighborhood punks. He skirmished with several of them. We heard several people say that the kids in the area are nasty and out of control. Anyway, one of the fathers of the punks apparently intervened ready to beat the old man up. The old guy supposedly went into the house, got a gun and a machete to even things up a bit.

Depending on who you spoke to, the inebriated gent waved the gun around and barricaded himself in the house, or grabbed one of the kids and made him come into the house with him--creating a hostage situation. I was unable to determine which it was, but police were in no hurry to force the issue, apparently.

A full squad of SWAT/QRT members was present and were surrounding the house. As three new SWAT officers arrived in an unmarked car and suited up in full regalia and went toward the scene, a few loud pops were heard! Shots? Tear gas? Nope. At an inopportune moment, some dumb-dumb not too far away, in an area filled with cops and tension decided to shoot off his illegal fireworks. {I say his, because the overwhelming majority of women are too smart to do this kind of stupid stuff.}

The event provoked a kind of Hampden street scene, with The Avenue closed to traffic. People were sitting on the middle of the street, walking dogs and kids, talking and gawking. Frazier's on the Avenue had a band, and though they were inside and the doors were closed, they were so loud it created a strange atmosphere out on the street. Buz couldn't help but notice, though how some of the "original" Hampden young adults/teenagers could barely talk intelligible English, as they talked to each other or on their cell phones. It was sort of a guttural street mumbling, more of a series of animated grunts, with "yeah", and "you know" sprinkled heavily. Buz thought he heard one ordering some drugs on the phone, and another smoking a joint. Oh, well, I guess they're not really worried about their SAT scores anyway. It's the street that's where it's at, you know? Jobs? Whassat? We can always go work in a warehouse somewhere, ya' know? But, Baltimore is a great city, with lots of different people, and Buz hopes the situation is resolved peacefully with the old guy getting a month's vacation on Fallsway.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Maurading, Disorderly Crowds and the Disconnect with Compstat

Buz watched and read with interest how the many reports of ordinary common folks getting smacked upside the head seemed to conflict with the stats showing crime in the city is down dramatically (except murders and larcenies, the latter up a lot).

Trouble is, the commissioner talked about the drop in crime and got pre-emptily defensive, apparently because he had previously heard criticism of "fuzzy math". And, in fact, he and the stats are widely disbelieved by many people in the city who don't feel safe.

There are lots of reasons for this, not to mention the fact that the Baltimore Police have a real PR problem, which Mr. Guglielmi cannot solve. Police are seen by many citizens as aggressive (unnecessarily), profane, arbitrary, and insensitive, not to mention bureaucratic. Also, Buz has heard from many citizens the downside of the Compstat process: police don't wanna take the report, and citizens don't bother reporting.

But the overriding factor I think, is this: there are two things that police do (sometimes forgotten by the police Compstat hysteria and the mania for numbers, by the press, often by th citizens themselves): they fight crime, and they maintain order. Crime fighting is measured by the reported crimes sent to the FBI under Uniform Crime Reporting guidelines, specifically so-called "Part I" crimes of murder, rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, arson, and larceny. They represent a measurable crime rate, and are most discussed at Compstat. [Apparently, our top leaders are also entranced with drug calls, deploying officers where the most 911 calls for druggies-in-progress come in.]

However, order maintenance is not able to be clearly measured. Disorderly gangs of kids going around banking people for fun are hardly measured at all, in fact, are probably not even really reported unless someone is seriously injured. These incidents are probably rarely even worthy of police attention, and even if an arrest is made, it is for disorderly conduct or common assault, worthy of only disdain by the command staff, not a mention at Compstat, I'll betcha (23-1). Uniformed officers were once the backbone of the department, and many saw their jobs as nipping this kind of stuff in the bud. Baltimore once prided itself with a significant, compared to other cities, police presence on the street, and a quick and significant response to calls for service regarding maintaining order. But the uniformed patrol force (except in the last couple of weeks) has been regarded over the last few years, as Sam Zell might have put it, mere "overhead". Something you gotta do for appearances, you know: the Kansas City Preventive Patrol Experiment "proved" patrol is "worthless". So, over the years, Baltimore consistently reduced its patrol posts, first on midnight shift, then on all shifts, because, well they were considered, um, BS. The real work was done by drug cops, ripping and running, taking down street dealers, and building cases against big offenders with guns and stuff. Calls for service in most districts were back up at the start of the shift, and nobody cared. The cops were burned out, late, and preferred not to write reports (boring stuff), when they could roll to the next gun call. Everyone was the enemy, if they got in the way of the stat. If you got enough stats, as a young "go-getter", you could get to go to the Violent Crime Impact Division and not have to wear that silly uniform again for a while, but you'd go to court when you could, and if lucky, you might get on a federal task force, and get a take-home car.

The citizens know some of this: when they call the police to report a crime, sometimes there is no followup, calls for service take forever, and there does not seem to be a significant police presence. Sometimes the police are borderline rude, and try to talk you out of making a report. Everyone you know has been victimized, and now people are worried about getting "jumped" in certain areas they thought were ok.

So, crime is down, but disorder is up and Compstat is askew with the public perception. Quality policing is not measured by Management by Objectives criteria. So, I feel for the commish: he's doing a good job in many ways, especially in keeping some crimes down or steady, but nobody seems to believe him.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The bankings will continue until morale improves!

Buz has been following the various posts on Peter Hermann's blog about the "random attacks" (also known as "banking" here in Baltimore, as in we just banked that no-good "mf", got him good, too. Ha ha.)
And there was huge front page coverage in the Sunday edition of the Sun, with the headline City on Guard, or something like that.

An earlier post I made on Baltimore Crime blog under Random Attacks,  elicited a response from Matthew who got banked while walking home on Lombard Street, just a couple blocks east of the Harbor, and not far from his home. And a number of comments on other blogs have posted about attacks on them or that they have witnessed, including Tom who wrote about the banking of a dude on the light rail.

Is this the end of the Baltimore we knew, or is it the same old thing, but now it is widely reported because of the Internet?

In the short term, there will be a huge police presence downtown around the harbor, and in the Market Place area, but what will happen in the long term? Will banking just go away, as it gets into summer and the youngsters get tired of it? Or will there be an "Incident" of some kind, like Berhard Goetz a number of years ago, or will someone be killed? Or will it, hopefully drift out of fashion.

The first couple of Sundays will be the true test: will the kids challenge the cops with their new show of force? We'll see what happens. Usually a heavy manpower show-of-force before something happens does deter rowdy behavior to some extent. But the uniformed force is understaffed and cannot be everywhere.

Buz thought Peter Hermann's piece on Sunday, the 31st was superb. However, I don't think the caption under the picture is correct. Tourists and diners will not be, as Councilman Cole hopes, "coexisting" or sharing the sidewalks with roaming gangs of teenagers. Eventually, there won't be any tourists or diners, if it becomes too scary. Of course, the city and the mayor and the commish all recognize that and will do their best by having a heavy police presence-at least in the Inner Harbor area.
Now, it may be possible to create an "everyday Preakness infield" atmosphere (I hear that really draws tourists!), or a version of Marid Gras (but I thought we had that on the Block every night!), but I am not sure a majority of our citizens want to live with those either.

Some more random eclectic thoughts about this crisis:
  • My dear wife thought the Sun was sensationalizing this whole thing with how they layed-the front page out and the headline: all to sell more papers. But I think the story is an important one.
  • One lady wrote to the Sun's editors that she has talked to several officers who said the morale on the police force was very low because of little backing and little prosecution, and little punishment. Hmmmmmm. Perhaps if morale improves, the banking will stop?
  • Ah, the Suite Ultralounge, hopefully ready to be put out of its moneymaking business. Those in the security consulting field know all to well  that clubs like this typically do not ask for any guidance or advice from professionals, if at all, until it is too late, and they end up shooting themselves in their wallets. Of course, many of them don't care, they're in it to make as much money as they can, as quickly as they can, by pouring as much alcohol into folks as they can sell, until too much trouble happens. If they get shut down, so be it, they can always look for another place.
  • OOOOOh. Somebody is going to get an ass-chewing! A kid got banked yesterday outside the Maryland Science Center at the Inner Harbor. Probably someone did not get the word from the Commish that none of this stuff is supposed to go on at the Inner Harbor; certainly the kids from Digital Harbor didn't read it or watch TV. Oh, I know, those kids didn't do it! I remember last year or the year before when there was a banking of numerous pedestrians along the promenade and Donny Moses, the police spokesman said that their uniforms showed that they were from Digital Harbor. Oh, the principal said: you have no proof; our kids are good kids, they don't do stuff like that! Moses, when questioned on TV, stood by his statement: the uniforms matched those of the only high school nearby.
  • We wish the mayor or some popular elected or selected public figure would show some outrage publicly. Ray Lewis, I know you wanted to help and I know it's off season, so you're relaxing your sore muscles and counting your money, but like, maybe you can say something, or maybe go out on patrol or something with some of the other Ravens. Don't worry: I don't think the kids will attack you.
  • We wish Peter Hermann will tell us about the 4 Canadian naval officers who were attacked. Now, Buz remembers that a Canadian destroyer docked at Fells Point 2 or 3 weeks ago, and he is sure that sailors will sometimes by sailors, know what I'm saying? But officers? I dunno (a technical term). Like, were they drunk, causing trouble, or did they just get banked? We'd like to know!
  • Have you all noticed how many guys now carry a semi-concealed folded knife on a clasp in their pocket or belt? I guess that's sort of a way of proving that it is not concealed, so an arrest would be questionable? Even good guys like my neighbor do it; of course, he's in construction, but.......  So, my worry is that eventually one of these guys is going to pull out this knife or box cutter, slash or stab, even kill one of these kids, and there will be all sorts of conniptions to pay.
  • We noticed a lot of these attacked persons had the temerity to venture out and about when packs of hooky-playing school kids were looking for something to do. Not to mention right after school when the crowd mentality takes over. Bad move; these kids own the streets then.
It looks like this will be a continuing story, now that crime is down, but we're number one (will there by a parade, escorted by hundreds of dirt-bikes, with traffickers throwing out red-tops from floats?) Now, could it be that the stat-driven Comp Stat has outlived its usefulness? Or should we just begin a Bank Stat?

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's gonna be a busy weekend!

It's Friday again in Baltimore (happens every week!). Hopefully we'll survive, but there are gonna be a lot of issues for our harried police force to deal with, in addition to Preakness Day itself.

Buz noticed that 2 of Peter Hermann's blogs recently got a huge number of comments, compared to other postings he has made. Both concerned attacks on people which were basically unprovoked in highly heretofore nice areas of downtown. First the Inner Harbor, then Mount Vernon, around that fancy bottle club which rents space in the first floor area of the Belvedere Hotel. So, apparently, when the gendarmes beefed up their presence around the harbor (and earlier than that the 'entertainment' district), our young people outflanked them at the Belvedere area.
  • So, tonite the Preakness parade will kick off and go along Pratt Street and end at Market Place--just where Iguana Cantina will be having its weekend party for the college folks going back home soon.
  • And, since the Ultra Lounge at the Belvedere had its Circuit Court appeal over the revocation of its liquor license, and the judge hasn't ruled yet on whether their due process "rights" were violated (who cares about responsibilities?), my guess is the club will be going as strong as ever to make as much moolah (a technical term) as they can before the hammer comes down. So, kids of all ages: come on down and get hammered! This offer is good both on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, if the judge rules against them, they could probably stay open while it goes to the court of Special Appeals [wouldn't want their rights to be violated, would we?].  Depends on how much money they are willing to pay their fancy, schmancy lawyer--of course paying the attorney is sort of a fine in itself.
  • And, of course, there is the Preakness itself: a chance of a lifetime, for one to practice open drunkenness, misogynist behavior to the max, risk behavior, and throwing beer cans (oh, they hurt!) at people you may or may not know. Oops, no beer cans this year, guys, unless ya can somehow smuggle them in. Oh, and you can get hammered for only $1 a beer between 8 and 11 am. Betcha, 28-1, that still makes it easy to get drunk by noon. Heh heh. (Not this boy, though).
  • Oh, and back to Market Place, where Power Plant Live is having a Preakness substitution event, where the booze will be cheap on Saturday all day (huh; nobody complains when they don't let you bring your coolers in here; like, why not?)
  • And the good citizens of Mount Washington are kinda worried that some young drinkers won't get the word, come up to the gate, get refused entrance because of their coolers full of beer, and will decide to tailgate somewhere in the neighborhood. 
Anyway, we hope the police department will have the elite corps of Violent Crime Impact Division put on uniforms, cut their hair, and be out there maintaining order instead of doing street rips and jump-outs; maybe we'll have a bit more peaceful weekend. Here's hoping Laura Vozella will wear her edgiest outfit and go out on the infield and see what's going on and report from the eye of the storm--which is supposed to be much more peaceful this year. We'll see.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stalking and college and the crisis at Wesleyan

Buz read with interest the article in the New York Times about the Wesleyan student who was stalked, after first meeting her attacker almost two years ago, and killed when he found her working in a cafe near the Wesleyan campus.

Though many of the folks in higher education security really worry about what to do about an "active shooter" on campus (most shooters shoot their one victim and run), it is often overlooked that a much more frequent occurrence on or near college campuses are the lesser-known crimes against women: stalking, harassment, date rape, forcible rape, and various other assaults against women.

Of course, in this case, there was a potential that this killer could have turned into becoming an active shooter since the police found his journal in his car where he threatened to go onto a shooting spree at Wesleyan. (buz wonders if they got a search warrant for the car, since Baltimore's prosecutors may well have tossed the charges if they did not--though it was on private property and "exigent circumstances" existed.)

This discovery, as one can imagine, caused a virtual panic on the campus. 

The story begins a couple of years ago when both the victim and the goof were taking a summer course at NYU. Apparently, they became friendly, if not friends, but the extent of the friendship is not known at this time. But then came a big turning point; the gal went away for a long weekend. When she came back, he was angry, demanding to know where she had been and who she had been with, what she was doing, etc. The situation deteriorated quickly into nasty email, and possibly phone calls, voicmails, etc. At one point she notified staff at NYU and the New York City Police interviewed her at least once. But a big deal is made in the articles that she declined to prosecute. But what was the point? From my reading, it appeared that he had already dropped out of the course (merely a summer course, anyhow), she was on her way back to Wesleyan, and he was on his way off to who knows where. So, even if she "pressed charges", and procured  a warrant for his arrest, he and she were already gone or soon leaving the New York City area. And I don't think New York is going to extradite for stalking. 

Immediately, I wondered: how did he find her after a couple of years?

Ah, my lovely wife said: "Betcha she is on Facebook". And sure enough: she was. And on something called, too. So, our best guess is that she was tracked down thru postings on one of these or other websites, and she probably mentioned that she works at the Red and Black Bookstore also.

So, what's to be done to protect women from these nut-jobs?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts and observations about crime and security around Town

Just a few thoughts related to recent meanderings around Baltimore and notions of crime, security, and safety:
  • Buz likes to eat at the Subway sandwich shop on Falls Road, near 37th Street, sitting by one of the windows looking out onto the street in beautiful downtown Hampden, hon. And we saw Hampden's version of Citizens On Patrol. Only it was JOP: Junkies on Patrol! Up and down, back and forth; wandering aimlessly all day long, some of the gals looking longingly at guys in passing cars. 
  • Before I went into the shop a guy stopped before entering, and went "putoooo", as he spit on the sidewalk in front of and before he went into a food store. Nice. But as I was sitting in there eating, watching the JOPs, a guy in a big pickup swung his head out his window, and went "plottch", as a big gob of spit went flying out into the street. Um, public health, anyone? As the swine flu starts to hit bigger, many people will whine and complain, but simple measures like not spitting on a public street will go a long way toward slowing the spread. Baltimore was once one of the hardest hit cities by the spread of tuberculosis, and outlawed spitting on the sidewalks with a city ordinance because of this. Needless to say, ignorance is bliss, and one can see a lot of spitting almost everywhere you look. Like, why? Kinda holding onto that tough guy image, I guess. And since a large number of folks in Bmore never finished high school, they didn't learn much about health and stuff like that.
  • Your consultant ran into an officer who used to work for him in Northwest a few years back. He said that the Inner Harbor areas are, as John reported to us, staffed with lots of recent academy graduates, as well as cops detailed from the Tactical Section and other places. He and I also expressed amusement that the Pimlico race course in trying to market the infield as a "family event" this year. You gotta be kidding!
  • At this writing, haven't heard much about the reported stabbing and kid/gang fights going on around the Inner Harbor over the weekend; it really hurts when the Sun has no staff working over the weekends because of Wall Street.
  • Buz noticed that Pimlico's infield security staff last year didn't seem to really have control of some situations, and didn't really want to get into it with some of these muscular drunks out there fighting, "playing", wrestling, etc. He was told that they had gotten a black eye for some of the action nationally posted on YouTube. It's really hard to believe that Pimlico's insurance company didn't have something to do with the new rule: no outside liquor allowed to be brought in. And in a city with such huge substance abuse issues, it's hard to believe the amount of publicity given to guzzling booze, drunkenness, and general irresponsibility which goes on and has gone on for years in the Infield. At least the city police aren't providing hundreds of officers (some of whom get hurt) to enable this "party".
  • We noticed that Holly G in Mount Washington had a security "riot screen" barrier in addition to wire mesh installed in one of their doors. Guess the window smashers were out that way too.
  • Recently Grind-On Cafe had its window smashed and lost substantial stuff of value, also.
But, of course, since crime is "down", we don't have to worry about any of that.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Peter Hermann's article on police pat-downs, etc.

President Rosslyn to Commander of  Battlestar Gallactica: "The war is over: we lost."

Buz read with interest Peter Hermann's article a while back on how police came into a hardware store in Southwest Baltimore, made a guy go outside, "pat him down", find nothing, and just let him go back inside and go about his business. It was treated and accepted as just the "code of the streets" and how it supposedly applies to police stops in high-crime areas. I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I'll betcha plenty of defense attorneys out there had nice smiles on their faces, just thinking about the stat-driven police force which has them wandering around (in Southwestern District-home of the famous Flex Squad, no less), jacking people up because they think they might be dirty.

Dragging a guy out of the store and patting him down?
Patting down (searching?) the store owner who was taking out trash?

Um, okay, stop and frisk. Terry vs. Ohio? Wonder if that is still taught in the police academy.
We now get a little more insight into why the State's Attorney's Office drops so many cases without charges, in Baltimore City. And how, though this guy didn't seem to mind much (after all, what could he do?), many males in Bmore object to being summarily stopped, frisked, having their pockets gone into, and pants pulled down in public {though they may be wearing 3 pairs of pants in the winter}. Does anyone think about: "The fire next time?"

And I'm pretty certain the store owner minded being stopped and patted down while taking trash out behind his own place.

While all of us are glad crime is "down", except for murders, of course, Buz wonders if police would be better served that instead of stats, they were patrolling, looking for guys where the evidence was already there; preventing and looking for burglaries; preventing, responding to and looking for robbery and theft suspects. I know, I'm starting to sound like Peter Moskos, but you just gotta wonder: is jacking up people for little or no reason because you think they might be dirty, really a good use of your community relations if you don't find anything, or good use of your time if you do?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April is the cruelest month

Buz had an occasion earlier this week to journey to Emmitsburg, Maryland, home of the campus of Mt. St. Mary's University, a small Catholic liberal arts school in the Catoctin mountains close to Pennsylvania.

Buz thought he had been picked up and dropped in  heaven! And the presence of Catholic priests walking around in their black outfits with white collars added to this thought.

He was struck about how idyllic and peaceful and serene the campus looked, and he remembered that  not too long ago someone had fired a shot thru the window of a dorm room there on the campus. (Frederick County, where MSM is located, is a mostly rural/suburban area with lots of woods).  And, a few weeks later, gunshots were heard in the vicinity of the school, and were heard again as the unarmed campus safety staff responded to check it out. In both cases the school activated its version of an emergency notification system, keeping students informed about what was going on. (they were grateful!). Of course, there has not been a public determination by anyone who fired the shot(s), and whether they were the same person(s), or whether the school was targeted in any way. MSMary's, like most colleges in the U.S., has a small, generally unarmed, campus safety force, and relies on the local police force or state police to respond to dangerous, serious incidents.

Your consultant's thoughts turned to April. Today, April 20th, will be the tenth anniversary of the attack on that high school community by two of its own students. And just last week passed the second anniversary of the Virginia Tech "massacre"--32 killed by one of its own, who never felt part of the VT scene. Buz is pretty sure that the availability of an emergency notification system, such as used at Mt. St. Mary's, would probably have not made much, if any, difference at either Columbine or the home of the Hokies. Though updates to students might have helped a little. Other than that electronic innovation, and school "Thereat Assessment Teams", not much has changed in the American landscape of security against mass killings. It's still pretty easy for any crazy or semi-crazy or just plain upset person to get a gun around about anywhere.

Just this month:
  • Three police officers were killed at one time in Pittsburgh by a nut-job with a rifle.
  • Thirteen people were killed in an immigrant center in upstate New York by another nut-job, who blocked a rear door with his car to maximize death from his "going postal".
  • A family in Washington State was killed when dad thought mom was fooling around; if he couldn't have her exclusively, nobody else would. Oh, might as well kill the kids, too.
  • And a guy in Frederick County, ironically not too far from MSM, killed his wife and kids and himself because he felt like it.
  • This list can probably go on.
  • And, of course Columbine occurred in April; a new book has come out about that mass killing, vigorously researched by a Salon reporter, Dave Cullen. Buz hasn't read that book yet, but it apparently has a lot of new info challenging many long-held assumptions about that incident.
  • And, of course Virginia Tech occurred in April; apparently, not much happened in VT response to nut cases, despite the occurrence of Columbine a number of years before.
  • Oh, and just before April began, a parolee in Oakland, California shot and killed 4 police officers on the same day: 2 initially, then 2 members of the SWAT team later, shooting and killing them right thru a house wall.
Policy prescriptions, anyone?

Hundreds of colleges and universities have spent millions of dollars on "emergency notification systems", which now include text message and email alerts, as well as sirens on campus to alert people on campus to "significant threats to the campus community".  And, apparently, the latest department of Education rules under the Clery Act require them to have some sort of notification system. Most high schools, however, don't have such systems, except the time-honored public address system, and the ole fire alarm. While better than nothing, these systems largely ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room: the Secret Service study of school shootings (though somewhat dated now), estimates the vast majority are over in 2-4 minutes. The actual Columbine shooting of others was over in less than 15 minutes, though it took some time later for them to decide to kill themselves. Those involved, police, students, etc., thought it went on much longer, because no one at the time new that the cowards had already killed themselves. Police are now trained to respond immediately, as soon as practical, to get into the school (or wherever) to try to stop the shooting. Usually, it will already be too late.

By the way, Columbine High School did have an on site "School Resource Officer", an armed, unifomed police officer on duty at the school, but he was driven away from the school, along with another colleague, by the heavily armed students.

Many schools and colleges are trying to create "threat assessment teams" for figuring out what to do with loony students who scare others. This is the only real answer: to separate disturbed and distressed students from the rest of the campus, at least temporarily, to find out more about them, and to try to learn if they have firearms, if possible. And to have a way for students to alert campus authorities to potentially dangerous folks. [Of course, none of that worked at Virginia Tech, where teachers repeatedly tried to get help for future gunman Cho, but he kept falling thru the cracks, since VT, like most schools then-and probably now-do not have the mechanisms to deal with people like him.]

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Some thoughts on recent crime/security news--and Easter Sunday rant

  • Cham reports that she believes a wave of Oxycontin use will sweep the city this summer. See her comment on  As this deep recession evolves into a depression, I guess people don't want to feel any pain.
  • One of Buz's job seeking clients at his part-time job expressed concern about working shift work at a plant at Park Circle. Though he lives within walking distance and is "in recovery" from the drug world, he said his neighborhood in "not safe" because of all the "young hoppers" hanging out in the streets of lower Park Heights.
  • The newest coffee house/cafe in Lauraville/Hamilton got broken into last week by bad guys who threw a cinder block through its glass door; heavy $$ losses resulted. Buz admires small business entrepreneurs who take risks by opening their dream business. All too often, though, many small businesses get robbed physically, get broken into, or their employees steal them blind.
  • My favorite liquor store near the Roland Park water tower got held up again--the third time in as many years. So far no one's been hurt there. A nearby liquor store clerk told Buz: huh, I dare them to come in here and try that! They'll be sorry! Hmmmmmm. Sounds like a guy who'd be dear to Sebastian's heart.
  • Everyone is a bit buoyed because the stock market went up a a bit this week. Don't get your hopes up too high, folks. Really, not much in the fundamentals of the economy have changed lately. We just see some bottom-feeders snatching up some cheap stuff. The banksters still wanta do what they want to do (take big risks and get big commissions), and when things go bad, they want the government (us) to bail them out. And they'll do it again! Of course, they want to have it both ways: they want the government to give 'em the money to help 'em out, but don't want the government to tell them what to do. {Omighosh! that would be "nationalization"}.
  • And did you all see that Larry Summers, former Prez of Harvard, and one of the O-man's economic big shots made for working one day a week at one of the big hedge funds? Like millions for his advice and stuff. Sheesh. and this is from a guy who thinks women can't do science. Did he really mean lying, cheating, and stealing? Ooops, I mean finance. Look, these bank guys have been lying, cheating, and stealing to each other for so long, it's hardly a surprise that none of them trust each other now. And until that happens and/or the gumment buys all their zombie stuff, not much is gonna change anytime soon.
  • Speaking of hedge funds: Buz has learned that the University of Maryland and its Assistant Football Coach are running their own little hedge fund! That is, UM has guaranteed that it will pay him 1 million bucks if he IS NOT selected by them to be the Head Football Coach when the current paragon of physical fitness finally decides to retire. And he'll get no less than $2.5 million per year for leading this mostly mediocre team of "student athletes". We're very glad that Maryland's values are in the right place. 
  • The city has decided to "double down" its bet on the survival of the Senator. A few weeks ago, they were going to loan the beleaguered movie house $300K, but now they're (we're) gonna spend more than $600K to buy the mortgage--this less than a week when a study group concluded that turning the place into a nonprofit would not be fiscally do-able. HMmmmmm. How 'bout a real big nightclub like the ones on Market Place and Fed Hill and the Point. Strategically situated between Towson U. and Loyola and Hopkins, and not far from Morgan, it would immediately be $$$$ successful. And the kids from Towson and Loyola wouldn't have to drive! Since the Preakness is apparently so important, we could build a retractable roof and have Preakness there every Saturday--year round. [horse races? what horse races? you mean running drunkenly across the portapots while your "friends" throw beer cans at you in between their throwing up?!] Seriously, Preakness day was/is the only day of the year that Pimlico actually made money.
  • And, seriously, the city is probably worried that if the Senator is bought by the "wrong" kind of "investor", or, worse, is left empty, it places at risk all those neighborhoods at the top of York Road, many of which have seen crime and blight drift into their area from time to time recently.
  • Osama bin Laden is probably laughing his butt off at the U.S.: "hey, we thought we did good, knocking down the Twin Towers. We couldn't hold a candle to what they are doing to themselves! Killing police 3 and 4 at a time. Not a single martyr needed. Killing lots of people a bunch at a time in upstate New York, and Washington, and all over. They completely destroyed the U.S. and world economy without us zealots lifting a finger. Oh, and they're selling guns to our Mexican narco friends that are  used to kill hundreds of police and soldiers so their country can smoke weed and do coke that the narco-trafficantes bring into the U.S. Oh, and I forgot, heroin, too. Oh, and I forgot, they also destroyed their own auto industry. Sheesh what can we do to them? Oh, well, might as well go ahead and de-stabilize Pakistan."
  • Buz has mixed feelings about the demise of PAL, but whatever you may have thought about Frazier, he was kinda on the right track here.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Companies with Thieves

Buz has learned that in the security consulting field, it is usually estimated that about 70-80% of theft from most firms is assisted or done by employees.

A couple Thursdays ago, I saw a good example of it in action--just by pure happenstance-which only confirms the estimate above.

And these jerks have good jobs making good money.

Your consultant was sitting on the back lot of the Rotunda, happily getting ready to dig into an unhealthy MickeyD's breakfast sandwich. We had pulled up into the parking lot just a few spaces away from a food service delivery truck, which features frozen Italian products like pizza and such. Kinda thought he was taking a break or straightening out his truck. Then, a beer distributor's truck pulls up between my auto and the food truck. The driver got out and while walking over to the food truck, slowly, get staring at me in a vaguely menacing way. At one point, I looked back, wondering WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
He walked over to the rear of the food truck, and still kept looking at me every now and then. Then old street Buz kicked in: the look was one of guilt and a fear I might notice something! Oh, I see what's gonna go down! (After all, why would the beer truck pull up on the back lot of the Rotunda; there's no liquor sold there.)

Sure enough, the food driver pulls beer driver into the back of his truck; I hear some stuff being moved around. Then, sure enough, the food driver jumps down with a whole bunch of frozen food in his hands, chatting with beer guy, this time both looking at me suspiciously and a bit angrily (what are you doing here?). They walk between the two trucks out of my sight; I hear the beer truck rollup doors being moved. Sheesh.

It became quite clear: the food guy is giving or selling some of his company's product to the beer guy at an arranged meet, probably in exchange for some beer. I guess they would be glad that Buz wasn't a private investigator hired by either company. As I finished eating and began driving away, the Beer guy gave me a final dirty look. Hey, bro, if you ain't doing anything stupid, you wouldn't have to worry about me, would you?

Just think a minute: these two clowns both have good jobs, almost certainly CDL drivers, making good money. A lot of people in this country would give so much to make the kind of money they do. Yet, they risk it all for a quick grab of a few goodies from their trucks: goodies which don't belong to them; we all pay the price for "shrinkage" at the store.

Betcha they're both stealing a lot more from their companies than even I saw or could guess
 (2-1). Betcha, 3-1, one or both could not pass a CDL drug test.
It's just a sad commentary on human nature.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sometimes I fear..................

Sometimes I fear for the future of our city. Oh, Buz knows crime is "down", and everything is all right, but...........We couldn't help but wonder, after looking at some of the events involving our "future": our young people.
  • An offshoot of the Bloods street gang (I think, for some reason, a whole bunch of people around here are enamored of the Bloods), called the Bounty Hunters, lured a member to a motel on Reisterstown Road. They then beat him, stabbed him til he stopped moving, then rolled him up into a rug. They carried him to a car and put him in the trunk. When they got to a little-used service road in Leakin Park, they took him out, and when he started to move, they beat him and stabbed some more till he stopped moving. Then they poured gasoline on him and set him afire--essentially burning him alive. And the VAST MAJORITY OF THE SUSPECTS ARRESTED FOR THIS ARE TEENAGE GIRLS! One of them, when she was arrested, had all kinds of red clothing on her. And one of the girls had been attending cooking school in Atlanta. [So much for the excuse that she was "forced" to join the gang because of the 'hood she lived in]. Sheesh.
  • Your consultant then reads some of the comments of the readers of the new internet site investigative and is astonished to see how many thug/gang members read, comment/and justify/excuse/enable this behavior.
  • Then we had the 17-year-old boy who "vacantly" testified that a couple of years ago, when he was 15, he shot and killed at point-blank range a person who had never done anything to him, in fact a person he had never met. All to carry out a "mission" ordered by his bunky, who was currently incarcerated at the time. Mission accomplished! This kid murdered a state's witness to a murder; now he is pleading guilty in federal court in exchange for his testimony getting him no more than 40 years. Well, I'm glad I won't be around when he gets out and starts thinking about his next mission. {And of course, the person who ordered would have done it himself instead of ordering an adolescent to do it---gutless coward!}
  • And then he had the 14-year-old who shot and killed a pizza delivery driver--and to learn mom whine and complain that he is being held on no bail in an adult facility. One has compassion for mom, but he will actually be held in a wing with other adolescents. We wonder: after police questioned him several times, did she ever question him? Did she ask him about the cell phone, about where he was the night of the murder. Did she know he carried a gun? Did she search his room? Who knows?
  • And then there was the report in the Baltimore Sun about the percentage of students in the state's  high schools who have not passed the High School Assessments yet. When you scan the list of city schools, all but the city's selective high schools are at nearly 50%. And none of the surrounding counties have any schools even close to that. The school honchos say not to worry: there's be only a handful which won't pass and won't graduate. Buz hopes that is true, but: these test are only at the 10th grade level. And for the rest of their lives these kids will have to take some test to get into college, for some jobs, to get into the service, etc. Oh, but they can do a project instead--because they are kids who just have trouble taking tests. Well, I guess there are kids like that, but we have to wonder how rigorous these "projects" really are to prove they can master the material. But, hey, at least these kids are still in school. Look at some of the schools on the list and see how few seniors there are. It's generally believed that about 50% of kids entering as freshman drop out before their senior graduation in city public schools, and that number rises to about 75% for African-American males.  
These are just some reasons I fear to the future of our fine city sometimes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Notes on local crime and security in Balitmore

  • The Charles Village Community Benefits District is pretty much done with their attempts to create a more secure neighborhood thru a neighborhood community safety team. For a variety of reasons, that model doesn't work very well there. Plus, the Benefits District is pretty much out of money for that sort of thing. So, it appears that they're going to move to a more Harbel-like model: a "community relations director" who'll be the link between the 4 neighborhoods and the police, and other city and state agencies. This person may also attempt to organize a better, more effective citizens-on-patrol. Buz thinks even that may be difficult in some to the areas of the Benefits District, but we'll see.
  • We journeyed down onto the Hopkins Homewood campus the other day and ran into Ed Skrodzki, the Executive Director of Safety and Security there. I just think he's doing a great job since he took over several years ago: we saw evidence of security everywhere. And Hopkins was rated #1 in the country for higher education security after a survey by Readers' Digest for its policies, procedures, and practices related to security factors they judged. In fact, the campus itself is very safe; most of the trouble happens in the areas off campus. (Loyola in Maryland came out #14 in that study; Hopkins and Loyola were the only two schools in Maryland in the top 100.
  • While we were there, we went into the Barnes & Noble to hear the kickoff talk commemorating the publishing of her new novel by Laura Lippman; a wonderful speaker, who described how the book is sort of inspired by the power of memory along with a true Baltimore case of a women who refused  to reveal what happened to her missing child. We picked up a copy; we're a great fan of Laura's, a native Baltimorean-who lives in South Baltimore (not Federal Hill, Riverside Park, or Locust Point; South Baltimore).
  • The strange case of Annie McCann continues to baffle. Your consultant is especially intrigued by the tale of the teenager whose print was found on her car: that they saw a white guy pull up and leave the car. They decided to steal the car, but first pulled out Annie's body, so they could go joyriding in the car for a while. Apparently, finding a dead girl in the car didn't slow down their ardor for the ride around the 'hood. Your consultant cannot believe this B.S.  One thing I've learned after many years of dealing with miscreants, drug-users, and thugs: they are invariably deceptive, untrustworthy, deceitful, manipulative and so full of B.S. that sometimes even they lose track of the real story. Unfortunately, the case is not even being ruled a murder by the medical examiner! I know that Sean Jones, the lead detective (only detective now?) is a great cop and a bold investigator, but he appears to not have many leads worth working on here. And, of course, Baltimore's murders continue. Buz wonders: given the exact same set of evidence regarding her body and the circumstances of her death, what would the Medical Examiners of our nearby states declare the cause of death to be? And what do they think of Maryland's huge number of undetermined causes of death? Do we have so many more druggies than, say, Pennsylvania? By the way, why do you think that kid's print was in the police department's database? Not for being on the honor roll at school, we can assure you.
  • My dear friend, Michael Cantor, has re-invigorated the website for his self-defense training, and provides a low-key, non-combative, and non-aggressive training for defusing potentially violent situations. Mike is also the owner of Salamander Books on the Avenue in downtown Hampden, Merlin, hon. If you stop in, he'll have some good stuff for you to browse thru and can answer any questions about his self-defense and awareness training. Or you can look at his website at
  • We hope Buz is wrong, but with warm weather just around the corner, we are waiting for the criminals to begin their spring offensive to take back "their" streets for having fun and doing drugs, and fighting, and carrying-on and stuff.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Window-smashing: it's more common than you think

Buz has read several accounts recently of businesses (and some homes) being broken into using the handy/dandy nearby rock. Thug-burglars simply find something nearby and smash a vulnerable window. Recently a fancy, schmancy jeans store in the Mt. Washington Village neighborhood here in Baltimore reportedly lost almost $100K in merchandise when their nice plate glass window was smashed and their store was essentially looted. Of course, they may not always use a rock. But businesses with merchandise and plate glass windows often learn their lessons the hard way (don't we all, though?).

And a business in Hampden along Chestnut was recently broken into similarly--this time it was definitely not a rock, but the thief somehow removed the mail slot close to the door lock, reached in and unlocked the door. Sometimes, this happens to residences too: you'd be surprised how many folks have a great deadbolt lock, but it's locked with a handle, and right next to a window which is easily broken. Burglar breaks glass, reaches in, and let himself in. Most residences typically don't have plate glass windows, though, and most occupants are home at night. 

I remember several years ago the Princeton Sports on Falls Road got their windows smashed and lost a bunch of expensive bikes before they left before the police arrived. 

Alarms aren't often enough. Of course, if you lost $100K in merchandise, you probably didn't have a working alarm or weren't using it (you'd be surprised how many folks have stopped using their alarms not only because of the expensive monthly monitoring charges, but false alarm charges from their jurisdiction.) Even a dumb burglar figures he's got a good 5 minutes before the gendarmes arrive. So, dear readers, your defense must be in depth.

Take a look at Princeton now: "riot screens" of metal behind the glass-in addition to alarms. 
Even the gentleman who owns the fine men's clothing store in Lake-Falls Village has thick security screens as well as alarms and lighting and good solid locks.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

David Simon and the not-naming of the police who kill

Buz is still reeling from reading the David Simon piece, which is the cover story in this week's City paper concerning the new police department policy of not naming police officers who fatally use force on anyone--except at the Commissioner's Discretion. He also writes a piece on March 1st on  It was quite embarrasing to read that he, once one of the few reporters who supported the police is now ostracizing this "once proud" department and calling the policy "cowardly". We have a number of thoughts about this situation, sometimes some of them in conflict. So, we'd like to share some random, iconoclastic thoughts with readers, and maybe some feedback will come:
  • I touched somewhat on bewilderment as to how or why this policy evolved in a previous post. All evidence points to the arrival of Anthony Guglielmi as the police department spokesperson. The policy was announced soon after he arrived in that position. If in fact he is the genesis, he has done the Commissioner a disservice. He apparently is tone deaf in the struggle the department has had in getting and holding public support.
  • Of course, part of the reason could simply be that this is an idea which has gotten into the heads of the rank and file, and is reacted to as wonderful by the Fraternal Order of Police. It's an "idea whose time has come." Ideas are powerful, and they don't necessarily have to have any rational logic. The are in effect, "a solution walking around to find a problem".
  • The Commissioner probably felt he had to throw the FOP a bone, since they are still pissed off at him for revoking their ability to work off-duty in bars and nightclubs, thereby curtailing some $$$ for them and their opportunity to look at pretty women and get paid for it.
  • I remember that a year or two ago I read that Baltimore County, in an agreement with its FOP, started a policy of only giving the first name of officers who in the line of duty fatalize somebody. It was not announced until after the first fatality occurred and got little notice and no hue and outcry. It's interesting, your humble consultant thinks, tht the city police arre scrutinized and everything and every fault is published or TVed. But in the counties, hardly any foible is ever reported on (of course now hardly any reporters are left to report on anything anywhere-especially in the counties, and the paper is named the Baltimore Sun).
  • Buz noted that the FBI, New York City Police, and Philadelphia Police, along with several others also have not naming policies, and he wonders how that affects reporting on those agencies, if at all.
  • We note that 911 call-takers do not use their names, and only give numbers; this has been in effect for many years. (But 311 operators give a name, supposedly their real name(?).)
  • Buz notes that Ravens cheerleaders also only give their first name to prevent harassment from weirdos. (Of course, they are not armed + with arrest authority+3,000 colleagues as David Simon points out for police.) [Of course, also, the most famous Ravens cheerleader did give her name as a (?) fitness/publicity/personal achievement thing--Molly Shattuck.]
  • From a policy making point of view, the Commissioner just could have implemented it quietly til the first fatality occurred. And he could have simply left the officers' names off of the face sheet of the report and written a followup with all the information including officers' names. They used to do this for bank tellers' names to give them some breathing room from aggressive reporters initially.
  • A better public policy would be to simply withhold an officer's name on a case-by-case basis should evidence of a threat surface. It's not clear at all what this policy is supposed to in reality accomplish. Surely, the people who were on the scene of the incident and witnessed it know who the officer is (though some may not know his/her name). And, in any case, if the incident makes it to court, opposing counsel have the right to know all of the witnesses against their client--and the name of a defendant officer if they decide to sue.
  • It is observed by your writer that many police have, at the very least, an antipathy towards reporters who second-guess policing. This has gone on for many years, and many reporters are viewed by police as "the enemy".  I suppose this is the final revenge of the cops against the press. And it's a shame; as Rodney King said, Can't we all just get along. As an avid newspaper reader for more than 50 years, I feel it's important for a citizen to get the news about crime regularly and in depth.
  • I think TV news are the big culprits here, though. When we worked in Police Communications many years ago, often a call would go out on the air for an assist or a shooting. Not less than a minute would pass when young TV reporters would burn up the phone lines asking what is going on. Um, we don't have any units on the scene yet. It's easy to imagine them calling an officer's wife for comment after hubby shoots someone. (Of course, it then would be the department's fault for giving his name out so soon.)
Whew. I could go on and on, about different aspects of this, but I am sure some past Public Information Officers of the department are not in agreement with this policy. Their role should be a cooperative, reasonably friendly, and understanding working relationship with the press. Mike Bass and  Regina Averalla come to mind.