I enjoyed reading your article, "No reward for store owner who provided top on robber (April 7), but not the substance of it. What was presented was just another piece of evidence that the police are nothing more than another bureaucracy.
If that store owner had his day in court, I bet the police would lose and the store owner would get his money. It would be argued that at some point he decided not to be a victim and chose to take an active approach, giving police what they needed, a valuable tip that they now have refused to properly reward.
It is not only my experience but that of too many decent citizens of Baltimore who find themselves dealing with this bureaucracy instead of a police force. It happens in so many ways, and the examples are repeated on a daily fashion.
I suspect this isn't the first example of police not paying what was promised for a tip. But there are also incidents that felony reports won't be accepted and you are instructed to go to the police station and file a civil complaint knowing that such a procedure will not lead to an apprehension much less a conviction.
Then there are the crimes that are mislabeled like breaking and entering reduced to a property crime because no one got in getting told to wait around while a contact report is made or approaching police to provide information only to be told to forget it because that involves another department and they don't want to talk to you because that isn't what they are about.
This brings about another reason why witnesses are so reluctant to come forward — because while a criminal has due process and the police have their bureaucratic notions and practices, it is the citizen whose time is wasted and safety jeopardized and left to feel that he is respected by the police even less then a criminal they are supposed to be dealing with.
At one time, the Baltimore City police used to joke that "city police are the crime fighters and country police are the ticket writers." Well, that has changed in my mind. Baltimore police are the report writers and while country police are still the ticket writers, they must be doing something right because they have a much better crime situation.
Michael W. Kohlman, Baltimore