Sunday, January 17, 2010


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Unidentified Man, 2304 W. North Ave., shot at about 5:30 a.m.

How can shootings be down but murders up? "Percentage of victims being shot in the head at close range on the rise"

Mary Pat Clarke: Guilford and Oakenshawe will "track every stage of this perennial assailant [John Couplin]’s processing through a system which has failed us once."
.. Once?!

"Gay man is victimized twice, by killer and state"


Cham said...

I get it, the residents of Guilford and Oakenshawe don't like it when one of their residents and homeowners gets robbed and abducted. I can see why they are more than a little pissed. But I find it a little sad that this particular crime, victim and alleged assailant are getting so much media and police attention due to the crime's location as opposed to, let's say, any crime committed in Federal East.

Potential criminals get the message loud and clear: Don't touch the homeowner in the expensive neighborhood unless you want to buy yourself a heap of trouble, but the rest of the city is fair game. Is there any way to make this attention even steven?

ppatin said...

This isn't directly Maryland related, but...

Supposedly the Supreme Court will be releasing its decision in the case of Wesley Cook (or "Mumia Abu-Jamal" as he calls himself.) Cook's death sentence was overturned by the US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in 2008, and that decision was appealed to the Supreme Court. If, as expected, SCOTUS rules in the prosecution's favor, Cook's death sentence will be reinstated and he will be out of legal options. It's very possible that this noxious cause celebre could become the first non-volunteer to be executed in fifty years in Pennsylvania.

History Punk said...

ppatin, any idea how quickly it will go from reinstatement of the death penalty to him actually getting it? I don't think I can survive more history lessons from people like Snoop Dogg or Rage Against the Machine

buzoncrime said...

Cham---While your question is a good one, in many ways it is over-simplistic in reaction to these crime in "expensive" neighborhoods.
And, ok, i can see where in some senses you might feel this attention is unfair.

But, from where I observe, this outrage is simply a measure of how a process like this evolves. Just think for a minute of all the stories the Sun has covered, even in the last year, of murders and shootings in poor neighborhoods, like the little girls shot last summer, and other issues. The media's job is to-sense what readers are interested in and what puts their product out there; they do, though, try to maintain some balance.

Police attention, I learned early on, is also political: the squeaky wheel gets the oil (at least for a little while).
And, over the years, in my experience, there have been many, many criminal forays into expensive neighborhoods, especially Guilford, Homeland, Canton, and Federal Hill. And, recently, I sense that all "good" neighborhoods are becoming more vulnerable.

So, while in some senses, you're right, some criminals are not able or willing to prey on wealthy neighborhoods, I'm not sure you're right about the why and criminal thinking. A lot of it is a matter of location, proximity, transportation, and risk-taking.

And while your main point seems to be that poor people are victimized at much higher rates and it gets much lower publicity, it doesn't necessarily follow that the rest of the city is "fair game".

Actually, these neighborhoods get much less police protection than poor neighborhoods, where hundreds of extra officers are routinely deployed. It's a matter of police priority. The tradeoff is that when serious crime does happen, it gets more attention.

And it may not seem fair, but life isn't fair, and as Omar said, he never bothered anybody that isn't in the game. I think the attention is always focused on when "citizens" and "taxpayers" who's not in the game gets hurt; too many other crimes in other neighborhoods involve folks in the game. And there are limited attention spans.

ppatin said...

History Punk:

I don't really know, since PA hasn't had a non-voluntary execution in something like 50 years. Also, while it's likely that the Supreme Court will overturn the lower court's decision there's no guarantee. Assuming they do I think it'll take the governor's office several weeks to issue a death warrant, and I think that would set a date a couple of months later. Capital punishment in PA is really, really screwed up so there's no way to tell, however absolute best case scenario would have Mumia getting juiced about three months after SCOTUS's decision.

Cham said...


Interesting comment. I will respond to you, but not know. I'm beat from an MLK day service project. I'll put my comment on a newer post in a day or 2.

buzoncrime said...

OK; get some rest; it must have been a hell of a project to tire out the fit hiker/biker you are!

ppatin said...

History Punk:

I have to correct myself. I checked SCOTUSBLOG, and according to what I read on there the Supreme Court isn't expected to reinstate the death sentence, instead they'll send it back to the Third Circuit and tell them to reconsider in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Smith v. Spisak. Don't expect anything to happen soon...

History Punk said...

ppatin, if you want to have fun with Mumia's supporters, ask them the last time the United States government or a law enforcement agency framed or killed a part-time cab driver for being a threat to the "Man."

People forget that at the time of the Faulkner Murder, Mumia was just a cab driver. The guy we see today wasn't the guy who shot Faulkner

ppatin said...

No kidding. Also, if the government is so out to get him then why is he still alive on death row 29 years after the crime? You'd think if they could frame him for murdering a cop then getting him shanked in prison would be easy enough.

ppatin said...

Looks like a sort of victory. The Supreme Court has sent Mumia's case back to the Third Circuit, which might in turn send the case back to the US District Court that initially heard his habeas petition. Looks like can expect at least a couple of years of legalese BS.

John Galt said...

Buz, I take issue with the characterization that more police effort is expended in the poorer neighborhoods.

Yes, in absolute number, but relative to criminal prevalence, NO.

Neighborhoods full of hoodlums are actually underpoliced relative to Guilford, as there are no hoods in Guilford and any who wander in are escorted out fairly promptly.

What Guilford should realize, in its rage over recidivists, is that the neighborhood across the street (Greenmount) is chock full of recidivists. An army of them.

They need to be incarcerated, regardless of whether they venture into Guilford or not.

John Galt said...

And for Mary Pat to voice outrage at attacks by recidivists is absurd. When has she ever sought to incarcerate the criminal populations of Waverly/Harwood withion her district?

John Galt said...

I quote from Mary Pat Clarke's letter:

Guilford and Oakenshawe willl be watching this time to make sure that our court system protects our interests, not its own convenience, from arrest to sentencing. (emphasis added)

Are they going to monitor ALL of the violent prosecutions citywide?


Just theirs.

And that's the problem. We don't have truly public safety services in this city. They're sort of private, to be turned on and off by politicians and activists.

So,.. if some single mother on Aisquith St. is robbed and she doesn't have councilmen writing letters, her assailant gets time served.

But anyone fortunate enough to live in the right and privileged part (not in Harwood, Waverly, or Pen Lucy) of MPC's district can get that sentence quadrupled ???


May I remind MPC that one of the hallmarks of a civilized society is a codified legal system, in which the same crime gets the same sentence. And she wants judges to sentence in lockstep with her requests? What kind of lawmaker does that make her?

No. If you want tighter sentencing (and I do), then a minimum sentencing requirement should be included in the City's legislative request to Annapolis. One which imposes appropriate sentences to all who are convicted of a certain crime, regardless of whose District it happens in and regardless of the level of advocacy or activism applied to a particular incident.

Guilford/Oakenshawe activists should be pushing their legislative delegation for tougher penalties, truth in sentencing, and abolition of parole for repeat offenders. That would start with Curt Anderson, who sits that Committee, the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy. He has a history of advocating that crime, especially in Baltimore, is a result of social and medical problems, rather than the choice of antisocial criminals.

Translation: let 'em loose.

John Galt said...

Another thought:

legislatively forbid the State's Attorney to plea-bargain below a certain point.

This one is difficult, because if the SA wanted to incentivize a perp to accept a deal, they can both compromise admitted charges AND drop (generally higher-level) other charges.

Maybe you forbid the SA to drop charges without a certification that he/she believes them to be unfounded (as opposed to undersupported).

ppatin said...

"legislatively forbid the State's Attorney to plea-bargain below a certain point."

And watch our already overburdened court system grind to a complete halt.

Plea bargains are a symptom of a much larger problem, which is that a criminal trial in the United States is one of the most cumbersome and inefficient fact finding mechanisms in human history. Simplify the law and criminal procedure, and create a system where even the most straightforward case doesn't require you to slaughter a dozen trees to generate all of the paperwork.

buzoncrime said...

John---You agree with my point, to some extent; there are few criminals in Guilford, generally few crimes, so proportionally fewer cops.
However, I was referring to the city overall. Northern District is one of the exceptions to flooding with police from the Violent Crime Impact Division.
They pretty much have to take care of things themselves. VCID and other task forces are concentrated in Eastern, Western, Northwestern, and parts of Central and Southwestern.

And Northern's resources are concentrated on "hotspots"--putting cops on dots on a map.

And, yeah, the folks who live in parts of Guilford need to be aware that there are high-crime, high-drug areas practically right across the street.

Now, that doesn't mean that everyone who lives there is a criminal, which you seem to imply. People who live in those neighborhoods are victimized by thugs at a much higher rate than those in wealthy neighborhoods.

ppatin said...


Since you have real-world experience with this, does the whole VCID thing seem as asinine to you as it does to me? From what I understand they are not under the control of the various district commanders, which seems to violate the principal that you should have one person in charge in an area. It seems like the sensible thing to do would be to disband VCID, give the additional manpower to the district commanders, let them use them as they see fit, and then hold them accountable for producing results.

buzoncrime said...

As far as I can tell, the Violent Crime Impact Division does not report to the district commander; often they are not even in the same building. Their priority, supposedly is "bad guys with guns" (to quote H.L. Bealefeld) [Buz's person of the Year], and to go after druggies of all ranks.

To make matters worse, the detectives who are physically housed in the various districts also do not report to the district commander; though each district has a detective lieutenant, their ultimate bosses are downtown. Don't ask me why; I dunno (a technical term).

District Commanders have limited discretionary staff. They are each assigned 160 officers, and are responsible for uniformed patrol and problem-solving 24/7/365 with that staff. Some districts, like Northern, have their own drug enforcement units, because the VCID doesn't usually work there.

Is it asinine? Again, I don't know, but certainly I don't see the point in having detectives housed in your station house if they don't work for you. Perhaps enlightenment will someday come to me.
H.L. Bealefeld would say, surely, of the VCID: it's working.

In response to your idea of incarcerating "recidivists": well, that usually happens eventually; that's why they're called recidivists. But there is limited prison space, the state is essentially broke, and the fine citizens of the wealthiest state don't want the "gummint" to raise taxes to build more prisons. The huge numbers of cases simply make plea bargains, suspended sentences, probation, parole and "good behavior" time necessary.
As ppatin says, the system would grind to a halt.

Wish it weren't so, but it is.

John Galt said...

Buz, I know a lot of the decent people in the other Baltimore. They exist, but they're virtually a minority.

As for 'we can't afford to incarcerate',...

fine, then once we let them out of prison, let's distribute them evenly across neighborhoods. Forcibly.

If too-nice neighborhoods can be forced to accommodate drug treatment facilities, then they can be required to take hoodlums, too. Make them live in Tuscany-Canterbury, alongside MPC.

I'm sick of them clustering here, overwhelming the available police manpower, and getting away with crime because some bleedingheart liberal at the country club doesn't think they want to pay for incarceration. Perhaps they'll change their tune once they've been stuffed into the trunk of a car in broad daylight.

buzoncrime said...

John---thanks for agreeing that there are decent folks out there in "bad" neighborhoods. But I don't think it's so much as them being in a minority; it only takes one or two thugs to intimidate a whole block.

And now with the emergence of the prison culture onto the streets in certain neighborhoods, gangs have become an intimidating force.

Nevertheless, you and I both know that what you propose both in this and other postings isn't going to happen.

If it makes you feel any better, there's been a recent huge surge in crime in the Towson precinct in Baltimore County, including robberies in the central core area. And recently Rodgers Forge suffered a spate of burglaries.

This issue didn't however start yesterday or last year; the dynamic of street crime has been evolving over the last several years. And we should all fear the growing number of teenage street criminals who are impulsive, violent, and angry.

John Galt said...

Actually, I've counted them.

In my neighborhood, they average six active, supervised P&P cases per block.

I'm not even talking about the wild, impulsive ones. How about the calm, 'I do thiss stuff every day of my life', 'I have frequent-flyer miles at the bailbondsman' ones ???