Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Confidence level = zero

Down in Greenbelt the Jose Morales case has gone to the jury.* Last week prosecutors tied him to three murders and an attempted murder-for-hire -- Robert Long's, plus three men who were in the federal penitentiary, Clyde "Junior" Lucas, who was with Long when he died, Mark Bartlett, a thief, addict and drug dealer who was the "star witness" who originally helped put Demetrius Smith in jail for Long's murder, and Terry Sadler, who is alive and also the mother of one of Morales' children. (I guess Stanley Needleman never testified?)

Four people arrested and three indicted on charges related to bribing postal workers at the Waverly and Pikesville post offices. Richard Wright, 37, and Kimberly Parnell, 43, are the respective post office managers, making Shane Anderson, 37, and Ladena Sketers-Anderson, 46, are the presumptive alleged bribers. Fenton says the managers are accused of taking kickbacks for no-show jobs from landscaping and janitorial companies.* Wright allegedly texted, "'Yo bra u need to text or call me because I need to get my loot!' ... referring to a $2,000 cut from $3,750 paid for contract work."

Kenneth Bernard Corporal was arrested for stabbing bouncers at the Comedy Factory.*

The Baltimore Police Department posted to Facebook,
"The Baltimore Police Department will make no changes to its policy regarding the information it currently disseminates on Twitter. We will continue to use Twitter to inform the community on all non fatal shootings, all homicides, crime prevention tips, public safety issues, noteworthy arrests and community events. Our goal has always been to provide the most accurate information possible. The community deserves nothing less. In order to meet that goal as crimes happen we will endeavor to add more context to events when they occur."
I gotta say, too little too late-- at this point I've completely lost confidence in Batts to lead. Homicides are up, transparency is down, dude seems completely clueless as to the law when it comes to Terry stops,* you had Gugliemi saying "we're pretty satisfied where the city is headed, violence-wise" after one of the most violent weekends in history, then the new guy saying they're not going to tweet "criminal on criminal crime." The spokesmen's words are their own, but apparently the Batts administration culture promotes that dismissive attitude: with Gugliemi's remarks, Batts never denounced them, he just "temporarily reassigned" Gugliemi to another post and remarked that the "messaging" and been "terrible."*
     And as a cynical Baltimorean, know how easy and tempting it is to slide into the "let the criminals kill each other off and have God sort 'em out" attitude. But there are problems with this line of thinking. First being collateral damage: kids and "actual citizens" literally getting caught in the crossfire. Second, people lose confidence that the police can protect them, and start taking care of threatening individuals themselves, already a huge problem in this city, the average homicide victim has 8.5 arrests.* When there's been a shooting on the block yet nothing is said, it reinforces this perception and conveys the message that shootings are so routine they aren't even noteworthy any more and the police don't care, reinforcing the cycle of violence. 
     Then there's the ethics of the "criminals aren't citizens" attitude. Just because you've bought some pot in the park doesn't mean you deserve the death penalty, or even a bullet in the knee. And finally, because America. Do we believe in the rule of law, or do we believe in the rule of the jungle?
     So yeah, no confidence. Time for this guy to go.


Ben S. said...

The "BPD is America's ninth largest police agency" for the 26th largest US city (by population), but has nowhere near the public engagement that similarly-sized departments enjoy. Why is that?

protector said...

It is definitely discouraging that this was even considered. This incident seems to imply that public communication is an afterthought, and can be dialed back at a whim.

Here's the SpotCrime response:

SpotCrime has been tweeting Baltimore shootings since before the BPD started. The practice of immediately informing the public is a good one, and hopefully leads to a increased culture of transparency.

It might be time to just replace the Public Information Officer - a name that immediately connotes some type of filtered information- with a Transparency Information Officer.

Colin Drane - Founder - SpotCrime

Adam Schneid said...

Lets not be easily fooled...the public information officers communicate the "message" of the administration. And it was under Sheila Dixon/Frederick Bealefeld that BPD started putting crime info out in real-time. I remember sitting in a southern district community meeting in 2011 and we got a presentation by Guglielmi and Det. Silbert on the department's facebook and video channel. They were excited and eager to share information and Guglielmi even gave me his cell number because community partnership was the edict from their bosses.

Things changed under the new administration of Commissioner Batts, including Guglielmi's messaging and tone.

Not to mention the City's entire crime team from Bealefeld, Deputy Mayor Thomaskutty to Cheryl Goldstein all ran for the hills!

Now, the BPD is trying to imply that the value of human life doesn't matter to the public because they're criminals vs criminals.

Just a way for them to spin that homicides will be going up for the second year in a row and under Bealefeld/Dixon, they were going down. Maybe it's time we cut our losses and bring Sheila back with her crime team!

Cham said...

The United States has a pecking order. Married white males are at the top of the heap, next comes their wives. At the bottom of the heap sits single black males, it's even worse if one has a criminal history. The Baltimore City police department is merely echoing this unwritten roster of who rates and who doesn't. If you happen to be a member of the wrong American caste the Baltimore City Police aren't even concerned about the political incorrectness of their public dialogue, they want you to know that your shooting doesn't matter.