Baltimore’s homicide problem is even worse than it seems. Based upon a per capita analysis, Baltimore is actually worse than Chicago! So, what have the administrations in Baltimore done to attempt to solve their homicide problem? Well, handcuffing their police by making them the problem rather than the thugs who apparently rule the streets in the city that bleeds hasn’t worked.
Satisfying the call for “heads to roll” behind the Freddie Grey debacle hasn’t worked either. Ordering the police to violate their oath of office and "stand down" during riots didn’t work. Allowing lawbreakers and looters to “have space” to do their thing hasn’t worked. Nor have body cameras or “Cease Fire” programs. None of that has worked. The criminals still own the streets. The police are further hampered by an insufficiency of numbers in their ranks and that is exacerbated even further by the consent decree that will make them even less effective. And now we have a new solution — a “diverse” review board which, in the name of diversity, will now include (if Mayor Catherine Pugh has her way) two civilians (“Baltimore police van driver Caesar Goodson not guilty on all 21 administrative charges in Freddie Gray case,” Nov. 7).
Why not take it a step further if you really want diversity? Why not include two of the thugs who were identified looting and assaulting police during the riots in which the police had their hands tied behind their backs? What may a city expect when it has gone almost to the point of kissing riotous thugs’ butts? The thugs are emboldened as they get tougher without consequence while the police are required to be less aggressive, less tough and more social worker than law enforcer.
Let’s take a look at Law Enforcement 101 for just a minute. Apparently, no one else in Baltimore is doing that. For a crime to be successfully committed, there are two essential elements: First, there must be opportunity and second, there must be inclination. Police officers are the public symbols of law enforcement on the street. We often hear the term, “omnipresence,” bantered about by command officers. That essentially means that the police should at least be perceived as being everywhere. That, of course, is mitigated by the number of officers available and the creativity in deployment. Quite obviously, it is not likely that a criminal will attempt to commit a crime in the presence of a police officer. He or she may simply consider the odds and move to another location to commit a crime. However, if that criminal is daring enough and understands the fact that the police have been greatly hampered in what they may or may not do, they may commit the crime in the presence of, and in defiance of, the police. That is the reality of hamstringing police — it erodes the effectiveness of the omnipresence strategy. As to inclination, that is a factor that police have little chance to influence. They may have some success in their youth-oriented programs, but the adult inclination is yet another sociological question.
Many so-called “leaders” have confused the meaning of “discipline” and equate it with “punishment.” Discipline is the result of training, education and a myriad of other factors that insure a disciplined individual has an order in the way he or she lives and functions. I am amazed that our so-called organizations for police chiefs have failed to defend the legitimate tool of law enforcement, the profile. Unless they are incredibly stupid (and some may be just that), they will know that the profile is not a product of the police but a product of the criminals. Criminals create the profiles that police should use, but are not allowed to use, because their chiefs fail to make the case for them. If average citizens truly understood what a criminal profile is and how and by whom it is created, they would demand that their police use this legitimate tool. I will go one better than that and say this: Any police chief who refuses to use this tool is not worthy of wearing his or her badge.
Robert L. DiStefano, Abingdon
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