Monday, July 23, 2007

July 23

Maybe they've been throwing out seafood in the department's dumpster? Have you ever smelled a dumpster full of rotting fish? Gag on a stick! Seriously:
Something at the Baltimore City Police Department smells fishy to mayoral candidate Keiffer Mitchell, who on Sunday called for a federal audit of the city’s crime statistics.

The Baltimore City councilman will deliver a letter today asking for a Federal Bureau of Investigation audit, he said.

Mayoral candidate Del. Jill Carter has called for an independent audit of the city’s crime statistics, which show a 16 percent increase in homicides and a 32 percent increase in shootings, but a 17 percent decrease in violent crime.

In response, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s spokesman Anthony McCarthy said, “If we can find a third party to audit crime statistics, we’re all for it.”

A long time ago I worked at a place where we made "soda missiles." We'd take bottles of soda, shake them up, stand at the top of the parking lot, and hurtle them towards the dumpster down the hill. When they hit, they'd explode. We did this when no one was around, of course (because they would've told on us). However, "soda bombs" are a bit more serious, even if hearing the term makes me chuckle:
“It’s nothing like a pipe bomb or dynamite, ... but it’s still in that category,” said Jason Mowbray, deputy chief state fire marshal.

What do the members of MADD do at a police checkpoint? Smack the drunks with rolled up pamphlets? They should!

In the blotter, lots of break-ins. Be on the lookout for the landscaper thief:
A lawnmower, three ladders, a gas-operated leaf blower and two hedge trimmers were stolen over the weekend...

Brief Update: Dan Roderick has reprinted an anonymous e-mail from a Baltimore City Police Detective regarding the state -- or lack thereof -- of police leadership in the department:
First of all, "Zero Tolerance" is not currently the "Mission Statement" of the Baltimore City Police Department. I can't tell you what the Mission Statement is, because I don't know. Many of us in the rank and file do not. I don't really even think there is one. Oh, sure, we have had "pep talks" given by then Deputy Commissioner Bealefeld (now Acting Commissioner) and by Mayor Dixon, but those speeches focused on a general idea of what needs to happen in the City. There was no clear plan laid out... just ideas such as "omnipresence" and "getting back into the community."


Anonymous said...

What I'd like to see from the City (including the Police Department) is the raw data from CityStat and crime figures made available online and not predigested or behind an horrible interface (I'm looking at you Baltimore City Police Department)

John Galt said...

I believe the omissions do not take place inside BCPD HQ. Instead, the command staff are pressured into getting their numbers down, which means they pressure their patrol people to get the numbers down.

Who writes the incident reports at the scene? The same officers who have been told they will be evaluated on numbers (not crimes). So, if they cannot get the crimes down because of inadequate manpower, what's the next best way to get the number of incident reports down?

Refuse to take them. Downgrade the classifications so they fall off the ucr part I blotter and become ucr part II instead, which is off the radar screen as fas as Compstat is concerned. So that's just what the officers have been doing.

By the time HQ has the data, it's already been 'managed' from the patrol post.

The solution is to require that each and every incident claimed by a victim/witness be recorded in full. If an officer recommends that the incident not be deemed credible, he would issue a pamphlet advising the complainant and informing them of their rights in the matter, including followup by IAD. He would then code the incident excluded by the officer in his discretion based upon his experience.

BCPD would report the unexcluded reports in the annual UCR to the FBI.

Then if you ever wanted to audit the excluded reports, you'd just pull them and contact the complainants.

Anonymous said...

Not very true. The officers were refusing to downgrade thats how it got into the news in the first place. Reporting was being changed later, after it was outed, by person(s) at HQ.

John Galt said...

No, I and many of my neighbors have experienced patrol officers refusing to report very clearly criminal incidents.

Now, if you are aware of specifics of reports being 'massaged' after the incident was written up, please tell.

Emptyman said...

As anyone who has ever submitted a bill to an insurance company knows, it's all in the coding. The difference between a first degree assault (a crime of violence) and a second degree assault (not a crime of violence) can be purely subjective -- how badly did the assailant intend to hurt his victim? Same with third degree burglary (B&E with intent to commit a crime), a felony, and fourth degree burglary (plain old B&E), a misdemeanor. What were his plans when he broke in? Who knows?

JG, do we really think the opinion of some DoJ auditor as to whether an assault was First or Second, or as to the intent of the trespasser, based on an interview with a plainly biased victim, should carry more weight than the opinion of the cop who actually investigated the allegations? In the end it's still just a subjective opinion. I would go with the cop (who is just as capable of over-charging as s/he is of undercharging; I see both every day) rather than DoJ second-guessing.

We agree the real problem would be deliberate pressure from command to under-charge or under-report. That's a management flaw that could best be addressed by limiting the number and power of politically appointed commanders. Since the mayor gets blamed if the crime rate goes up, do you really think the mayor is going to want to surrender his/her ability to control the command staff?

Anonymous said...

No, we don't need an audit by the DOJ. This is nothing more than a typical Keiffer Mitchell political stunt that we should all be getting used to. Keiffer is an empty suit with no ideas, action or courage. Where was his support for a crime audit when O'Malley was cooking books?

Anonymous said...

Jayne had plenty of messaged reports and yes incidents which were failed to be reported. Don't ever forget it was the officers who leaked what was going on. Trust me, no one wanted to go along with that shit.

Anonymous said...

No, I and many of my neighbors have experienced patrol officers refusing to report very clearly criminal incidents.

My home was broken into during a crime spree in our neighborhood, and the police absolutely refused to take a report. I don't bother calling the police anymore.

John Galt said...

We do need an audit. Someone in this police department is a lying weasel, whether it's in the HQ, command staff, on the line, or all of the above.

The City Inspector General should have conducted an audit, but didn't. The Mayor's office should have conducted an audit, but didn't. The Commissioner should have conducted an audit but didn't.

So, the lies have persisted and become standard operating procedure. 'Crime? What crime ? We don't have no stinkin' crime.'

Because Baltimore City government is so ethically compromised from top to bottom, the only solution is external oversight.

Like Chicago in the 30's. Furthermore, the people who signed off on the stuff should be unceremoniously fired.

As a victim who's had his complaint buried on multiple occasions, I'm outraged. The crimes committed against me have effectively been 'legalized' by a sworn officer. It's quite outrageous.

Oh, and emptyman, regarding the subjectivity of the difference between an aggravated (part I) and a common (part II) assault, if the frickin' victim says he was attached with a weapon and has the wounds to prove it, how the hell does an officer who didn't make it to the scene 'til 50 minutes later know different ??

I've had a cop stare at a smashed-in doorframe and refuse to take a report. Is the victim biased? Yeah. Is he the best source of information you're gonna get? Yeah. Would I back a cop over an average victim? No. Some vics are scamming, trying to avoid paying the girlfriend the rent or something. But most are reporting because they're offended. They feel wronged and are looking for justice. I'll take them anyday.

The minute you lose respect for your victims, you're a city which should just be closed down.

And note what Anonymous said about not calling anymore after being the recipient of indifference from the responding officer. That's the biggest reason for the 'drop' in reported property crime: why waste your time on police who are taught not to give a crap?

John Galt said...

BTW, ex-Commissioner Kevin Clarke says this city's in a state of emergency.

Anonymous said...

Well I'm glad the southern's police aren't like the ones you have. I'm also sad you had such sad excuses for officers. Sheesh!

As for Clarke, I heard he has won his appeal. Nothing from official news sources yet.

Anonymous said...

Nix that last part, I see it in the article. My bad.

John Galt said...

I should be clear. They're not always like that. Many of them are really very committed, but when the stats run high and manpower is waaayyy short, they're told to get them down BAMN.

John Galt said...

The heads start to roll; some wear new hats. Wonder who's gonna take over command of Patrols. I vote for Skinner.

ppatin said...

Not having Debbie Owens as Chief of Patrol seems like a good thing. The only question is can she do more or less harm as admin deputy?