29 April 2015

Talking points about Baltimore and policing from a retired MD cop

First off, I need to explain my history with the City of Baltimore.  After getting out of the Army after being the 523rd Military Police Company on Aberdeen Proving Grounds, my first civilian job was at the Union Memorial Hospital just down the street from Greenmount & North Ave where much of the violence took place.  

After three years at Union Memorial, I was hired by the Baltimore City School Police and attended the Baltimore Police Academy  Class 97-2.  After two years with BSP, I lateraled to the Aberdeen Police Department, about 45 minutes North up 95.

Both of my mentors, one for all things tactical and the other for investigations, were Baltimore City cops, as were many coworkers and friends.  Every police department in Maryland is heavily influenced by Baltimore City Police and Maryland State Police.  The reason being that when bosses retire from those two agencies they usually take positions as chiefs and sheriffs through out the state.

With this said, I would have to say that my police style was more Baltimore City than State Police.  Now here are my points-

Burning down where you live- the riots in Baltimore received world wide coverage.  The reason given was oppression by the police who are the agents of the government which the average person is most likely to interact with.  If their issue was with the police and the government, why were not government buildings attacked?  Because of the same reason that in a city full of criminals and illegal firearms nobody shot at the police.  The people involved were not interested in any civil insurrection or bringing attention to police brutality, they were interested in looting for free clothes, booze, drugs, food, and major appliances.  Had government buildings been attacked or police fired upon, you would have seen a very different reaction with people on both sides killed.  Instead, they largely stayed in their own communities to loot and burn.  Whatever they were trying to prove lost all credibility.

Freddie Gray, the man that sparked it all-  What we know is that he ran from police, was caught, handcuffed, and drug into a wagon for transport.  At some point he went into respiratory distress and was refused medical attention.  He slipped into a coma only to die seven days later.  Autopsy revealed that his spine was severed, but there was no other trauma to the body.

People run from the police for three reasons; 1- they are committing a crime 2- they are in the possession of contraband 3- they believe they have a warrant.  Number 3 seems the most probable here.  By all accounts Gray was just sitting on the stoop.  Doubtful he had drugs on him since by looking at his arrest record he was way above being a "corner boy" and was more into the production and distribution end, meaning if anything he was the money man and would not hold drugs.  Also looking at his arrest record, it looks like he had a drug arrest in December 2014 that was supposed to go to court in May.  In my opinion, he probably thought he had a failure to appear bench warrant for missing a preliminary hearing.

Based on my knowledge of police training and anatomy, here is what I believe happened.  In the video you can see police on top of Gray and he is screaming.  Although they are trained to avoid injuring the suspect, it is not uncommon for an officer to kneel on the neck of a suspect.  Believe it or not a healthy neck is pretty robust and it would be hard to injure by just pressing down at a 90% angle.  But if you have a neck that is already injured and an officer fell or jumped on that suspect's neck with his knee at a 45 degree angle towards the head, it could possible cause a detachment at the brain stem.  Like I said, I think that will turn out to be the case here.

On 01MAY15 the Baltimore Police Department is going to release the results of their internal investigation to the States Attorney's Office who will conduct their own investigation and decide if the officers will be charged.  So, those looking for answers on the 1st are going to be very unhappy.

People without understanding of what it takes to charge someone with 1st Degree Murder want all six officers to receive that charge. For that to occur, the case would have to basically be made that all six of the officers conspired before hand to kill Gray, tracked him down, and then executed him.  If any officers are charged, it will be one or two of them and the charge will be manslaughter.

Juvenile vs Adult Arrests-  the media wants you to believe that the reason police allowed the rioting to go on was that it involved mostly juveniles....that is bullshit.  The original show of force by city police was ant Mondawmin Mall in response to a juvenile issue.  Of the approximately 250 arrests made during the night of the riots, about 200 were adults and 50 were juvenile.   The reason city police did not use more force was because of orders from Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake to "stand down". Some reports go as far as to say that the Mayor put out an order for them to not even wear black gloves so as not to look oppressive on camera.  When outside agencies answered the first calls to assist BPD, many left on arrival after being instructed to not wear riot helmets or carry riot batons.  So, don't believe all that crap about it just being juveniles.

Police training-  for those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you have no doubt heard me rant about the lack of quality officers and realistic training.

The firearms training in the Baltimore Police Academy was top notch.  Beyond that we mostly learned from the war stories of our instructors.  All police and correction training in the state of Maryland is overseen by the Maryland Police & Corrections Training Commission .  On the first day of the academy, you get a big book listing each and every thing that must be covered in your academy to become a certified officer.  During the last week of the academy, we were told to go through and initial next to everything that had not been initialed.  Someone asked how we could do that if we had not covered it.  They said "you'll do it if you want to graduate".

The Freddie Gray incident is different than most police use of force and brutality complaint issues because it does not involve any mechanical force options.  Most issues seem to come from the Taser and shootings.

The real reason that so many people are being Tased and shot is because very often agencies fail to comply with the standard set by the Supreme Court that training be recent, relevant, and realistic.

With some exceptions, much of initial police training involves little to no open hand combatives training being "arrest and control"  no training in arrest out of control.  Police are not pressure tested during physical confrontations.  They don't get punched in the face or have anyone punch them in the face.  Nobody chokes them out. Couple that with the squeaky clean background required to become an officer these days and what you get is someone who has little to no experience with physical violence.  You put that officer on the street, they get scared and they Tase and shoot people at the end of confrontations that started over something small and could have been nipped in the bud with a nightstick or open hand combatives.

If you think it is bad now, just wait a few months or years.  In the wake of Ferguson, good officers are just walking away from the job.  Soon the liberals will get what they want... nothing but Nerds and Turds wearing the blue suit.  Those with out the passion needed to be good police.  They will be there just for the pay check or to pay back those that bullied them in high school.  That is unless Obama gets his way and we have a National Police Force.  This is what is being put in place as the DOJ takes over city police departments one by one.

When I was still an MP my buddy got me a coffee mug for Christmas one year that read "A society that makes enemies out of its police better learn to make friends with criminals"  That is truer now than it was 20 years ago.  God Bless America 

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