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.