Saturday, December 30, 2006

December 30

Says NPR's Laura Sullivan in, "New Crime Data Has Experts Concerned," the federal budget for crime fighting is now a little more than one-third of what it was 10 years ago, and violent crime is up 4 percent nationwide.
Thanks, Republicans!

Three correctional officers were stabbed at Jessup.

Kenneth Megginson, wanted for murdering a Baltimorean in October,* was arrested in Berks County, PA. (Like the site's typo disclaimer!)

The Sun's Gregory Kane celebrates Festivus late, enumerating the (rather surprising) people who disappointed him most this year, including Rod J. Rosenstein and the Court of Special Appeals.
(No word yet on who gets '06's "Negro, Please")

Burglary, robbery, assault, etc. in the Blotter.

* Searching the archive for this guy, I found a comment I hadn't read! Good stuff!
Anonymous said...
If you've ever investigated a murder in the city, or talked to people in some of the f-ed neigbhorhoods where they occur, you'll soon realize how, in many cases, few want to talk to police or reporters about the gangbanger/drug dealer who just got his brains blown out. Please, I implore some bloggers/posters here to pick a murder in, say, the heart of the eastern district, and just show up at the address and start talking to people. don't just plot it out on your makeshift computer map and think you got some real handle or insight into city crime. Next, while you're out in the 'hood, imagine you're a homicide detective: you need to get people to cooperate, first by persuasion or by appealing to whatever compassion for their fellow man that they might have. Sometimes, there just isn't much compassion, so detectives break out the good cop/bad cop routine and act like pricks. Or if you're a reporter, you need to come back to your editor with on-the-record interviews from people who knew this dead gangbanger/drug dealer, or it's hard to put them on TV or quote anonymous sources. Try to get people in this neighborhood, who knew the victim, to give you their real, full name so you can quote them on how this dead gangbanger/drug dealer had some problems, but he was, at heart, "a good man." sure, right, of course he was... but even if he wasn't a good man, he still deserves justice for his murder. it's incredible to see how many, many cops doggedly pursue that justice, for someone who they knew nothing about, and who did little with their life except to cause a lot of problems in other peoples' lives and neighborhoods. talk about thankless work.

In many neighborhoods, residents, neighbors and obvious witnesses won't even acknowledge your presence or your questions; they'll just turn around and walk away. Like you have the plague. I shit you not. They don't want to talk to you, nor do they want to be seen talking to you. Of course, when someone does talk, they are thinking, or asking you: "will i be subpoenad? you gonna make me go down to homicide now? will i be quoted? will you show my face on tv? do you have to? i have young children who live here...please don't quote me."

Don't just imagine doing this while sitting at your computer and clickety clacking away in cyber/blog land, with your cop/media critic hat on. Unless you've tried to do it, you have no idea. So, go out and do it for a day. Give yourself a deadline later that day, and when that deadline comes, figure out how much you can really say about the life and death of someone, when virtually NO ONE wants to talk about him or her. And you'll get just a taste of what the police, prosecutors, The Sun, The CityPaper, The Examiner, and WMAR, WBAL, WJZ and WBFF/Fox get when they try to report on the "average" homicide in B-more. You can blame that general dearth of information, in no particular order, on: witness intimidation, general callousness, revenge motives, and the sad and pervasive belief that police, prosecutors, and the city, state and Feds can't be trusted to protect witnesses who cooperate. This blog might be kinda new, but this climate -- this landscape that police and local media operate in -- is not new. It's been around for years in charming Charm City. The murders have thrived in this twisted conspiracy of silence.

If people in certain neighborhoods are angry about the murders, or how they don't get covered in the media, then they need to pick up the phone and call the police and help them solve them. Start Snitching. DROP A DIME. Also, pick up the phone and call the media and cry and lament about the gangbanger/drug dealer who was just killed on the corner, who was wanted for murder or attempted murder or robbery.

TESTIFY. TALK ON THE RECORD.

But ya know something? most people don't call about the murders of such people. They don't call police. They don't call the media. They don't talk. They just endure it. And that's the general shittiness of Baltimore Crime, circa 2006.

Signed,
Anon.
Going outside? Lamenting on the phone? As if!
We have all the "idea" we can handle as it is, thank you!
But thanks for the comment, non! In honor of you I'm going to turn 'non comments back on!

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

That anonymous post was one of the best comments all year, bless you for turning anon posting back on.

burgersub said...

why do i need to go to east baltimore and try to be a cop for a day? i'm not a cop. i know it's a difficult job, but to say that our public servants shouldn't be criticized because we ourselves couldn't do any better is some middle school style debating.

i'm not allowed to be angry that there's a problem just because i don't have the solution? give me a break.

p.s. i went to a party in harwood last night, but unfortunately i didn't see anybody who looked like they could be john galt.

Saimon Fitzyerald said...

Saddam Hussein hangs in Baghdad.
Juan Cole writes about "Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein". An excerpt:

"Saddam Hussain was one of the 20th century's most notorious tyrants, though the death toll he racked up is probably exaggerated by his critics. The reality was bad enough.

The tendency to treat Saddam and Iraq in a historical vacuum, and in isolation from the superpowers, however, has hidden from Americans their own culpability in the horror show that has been Iraq for the past few decades. Initially, the US used the Baath Party as a nationalist foil to the Communists. Then Washington used it against Iran. The welfare of Iraqis themselves appears to have been on no one's mind, either in Washington or in Baghdad."

John Galt said...

Regarding crime-prevention funding, in addition to Republicans you might give some credit to a guy by the name of Osama.

Regarding the uncooperative nature of communities in Balto. when they experience structurally persistent crime, I just had this conversation with a certain columnist, explaining that Baltimore really IS a different culture from mainstream America. Its peers will be found in New Orleans' 9th Ward and in Inner Detroit and in Compton, CA.

I wasn't at the party, but I'm curious what you suppose I might look like, other than the dead-giveaway straightjacket.

InsiderOut said...

maybe people would talk to police if they police department respected their communities's civil rights. People talk to the police when they trust the police. People don't trust the police when the police arrest people for things they should issued a citation for, arrest people without probable cause, or search people without reasonable suspicion that they are armed and about to commit a crime. It's called the 4th Amendment, baby. Get the Department to respect it and the community will respect you.

Sam's Lil Sis said...

The whole justice system here SUCKS...no matter what side your on. If your an inmate your subject to the whims of the stupid CO's who don't realize that they all hang in the same bar and live in the same neighborhoods as many of the people they mistreated.

If your a victim you are either forgotten or when the person who has commited the offense is sentenced,..no if they're sentenced, they basically get a slap on the wrist.

So again our system of justice SUCKS and that's the bottom line. I guess when the saying "Have pride in What You do" was created , it didn't apply to Baltimore City's Court or Penal System workers.

burgersub said...

i don't really have an idea of what you look like, galt, i just was hoping that if i saw you i'd know it was you. whatever righteous anger personified looks like! :)

and was the certain columnist anna ditkoff by any chance? because i told her to try to find out more about you (i hope you don't mind). i find you very intriguing for some reason, plus i knew you would have a lot of good stuff to say for her article.

The Cybrarian said...

I picture a louche Sammy Davis Jr.

Anonymous said...

Insiderout, exactly.

People don't talk to those they have no respect for and they certainly don't talk to those they don't trust or know.

Problem with the higher-ups in the PD who institute poorly thought out policy is they always want something for nothing. No one knows what potato patch they hatched out of.

You help me but I won't lift a finger to help you. Here, get in the big marked police car where everyone can see you.

I can't say I blame people for being quiet. Even so, people will get word to the officers they trust.

John Galt said...

Anna can get me on my blog, Baltimore B (the other Charm City), which links here as GaltSpace.

I'll try to take rant suppressant, I swear.


That said, I have your solution.


Much of the problem here is that the criminal laws are codified on the assumption that 'people are basically good in nature, but they err from time to time'. Recivists are assumed to be the exception, rather than the rule. Accordingly, each of the various branches of criminal justice is granted considerable discretion to implement a just outcome in its best judgement. The problem is that that judgement is largely unconnected with liability for consequences, and with our exceptionally high marginal inclination to offend, the total of incidents which fall between the cracks adds up to a great deal of misfeasance in CJ.

The proposal then is as follows:

all felonies above a certain level of severity shall have associated to them a penalty. Notice I did not indicate a maximum penalty. They all get the same penalty, per offense.

The expectation is that the judge will discharge his responsibility for the detainee by consigning him/her to the Correctional Department for the term of his penalty. The sentencing judge may compromise the sentence in his judgement only by providing a substitute inmate who volunteers to serve out the remainder of the sentence in the event of repeat offense. Clearly, individuals could only vouch for one sentence at a time, since only one may be served at a time. If no one were willing to contingently serve the detainee's residual sentence, the judge would be understood to be the substitute, so he has an incentive to ensure that sentence reductions are 'good' ones, ex post.

Similarly, the department of Parole and Probation could award such reductions in total time served as it felt to be in the best interests of society, provided it had a qualified substitute inmate to serve in the event of a violation. In the absence of such a voluntary substitute, the Parole Board would be understood to assume that position, should he/she reoffend.

Probation officers would have the option of not violating his/her parole in their discretion, provided they were willing to serve out his sentence if rearrested.

It's essentially a full-indemnity tracking system analogous to bail-bonding, but it recognizes that for serious felonies, a strictly financial penalty is not adequate, so the indemnitor, if any, agrees to become liable for body attachment.

This ensures that that the magnanimity of custodial branches is constrained by good judgement and that each actor in criminal justice is granted full authority to stick his neck out in the interests of justice.

A possible correlate relating to the gaping chasm between 'probable cause' and 'guilt beyond reasonable doubt' would be a requirement that officers guilty of arrests which a reasonably skilled officer would have known would not succeed in court should be required to serve a time in jail equal to the detainment period which the detainee would have served in the absence of bail awaiting that unsuccessful trial.

If a Court Commissioner should in fact find no basis for charging, then the officer would serve the time the inmate was actually detained. Note: we don't allow for 'abated by arrest'. Any conduct worth detaining fir is worth obtaining a token judgement of $1.

To round out the checks and balances, a unit of the State's Attorney's office would be created exclusively for the purpose of prosecuting unlawful detainments. Any charge which is null prossed because the SA determines the charge was no good (as opposed to, say, a Miranda or exclusionary technicality) would necessarily open a case file against the officer, which can not be dismissed and must instead be adjudicated.

This would also help to curb the tendency to plea-bargain higher charges.

Basically, it boils down to the idea that ultimately, responsibility is neither created nor destroyed, but rather is conserved and must ultimately be assigned to a person. The First Law of Crimodynamics, as it were.