THE FOLKS Baltimore police have been arresting for loitering, trespassing and public urination stand accused - in some instances rightfully so - of committing "quality of life" crimes.
You want a "quality of life" offense? I'll give you one. If this crime doesn't affect the quality of life, it's sure as heck downright annoying.
What about those Balti-morons so clueless that they don't even know how to be good pedestrians?
You know the ones I'm talking about. These aren't the tourists downtown crossing the street near Harborplace on a busy weekend. You'd expect some to be lingering in the intersections after a light changes.
But go from Harborplace into some of Baltimore's neighborhoods and you'll see people casually strolling down the street. With cars ahead of or behind them.
Now during the winter months, after a heavy snow, this might be understandable. Some folks haven't mastered the art of shoveling and salting the sidewalks in front of their homes.
I'm talking about the ones who do this no matter what the season. Balmy spring days or hot summer nights, you will find these cretins walking in the street, impeding traffic. And they don't walk near the curb so that cars can go by. They deliberately walk in the middle of the street. Honk your horn at them - a clear signal that, as a motorist, you don't have the option of driving on the sidewalk where they're supposed to be - and some will look at you as if you've lost your mind.
And then there are the pedestrians who are in a class by themselves. They're the ones who never heard of crossing the street at the corner. They'll cross in the middle of the block. Do they walk from Point A on one side of the street in a straight line directly across the street to Point B?
Do multimillionaires eat welfare cheese?
These bozos step off the curb and then cross the street walking diagonally. Slowly. The goal is to spend as much time in the street as possible to hold up as many vehicles as they can. You may be in a hurry. You may have an actual life to live. But why should that bother them?
The most infuriating thing about dimwitted pedestrians is that there's really nothing we can do about them. There's no point in locking them up. We already do enough of that with the loiterers and trespassers.
It's not practical to have cops write them civil citations. Not if officers have to pass up someone engaged in more serious criminal activity to do it. Besides, these folks aren't really criminals. For some reason, they just never got the memo that sidewalk has the word walk in it for a reason.
Another group of annoying Balti-morons who didn't get the memo - the one that says their favorite activity is illegal in these parts - are the city's dirt bike riders. Dirt bike riders are every bit as annoying and infuriating as - but far more dangerous than - stupid pedestrians. Heaven help those Baltimore residents who have these characters ripping up and down their neighborhood streets. I can feel your pain.
Yes, they're in my neighborhood, tearing up my block at all hours of the day and night and creating that awful racket. I've seen some cross double-yellow lines to zoom around cars - mine included - and cut dangerously close in front of drivers.
Why can't police arrest these idiots? Maybe because it's a lose-lose proposition for the cops.
If police pursue a dirt bike rider and he ends up having an accident that kills him, the cops, not the rider, will be criticized. If an accident involving vehicles other than the dirt bike occurs, with either injuries or fatalities, then cops will take the heat for that, too.
But if a dirt bike rider runs over some poor child, or gets killed in an accident, then folks will scream, "Well, why didn't the police arrest him when they had the chance?"
In fact, 25-year-old Dwayne Oliver was killed two weeks ago when the dirt bike he was illegally riding collided with a taxicab in West Baltimore. I haven't heard anyone criticize police for Oliver's death, but hey, give it time. Some folks just need to get revved up first.
So if police have their hands virtually tied when it comes to pursuing dirt bike riders, how do they catch them? It would help if cops knew where to find them. So, in the spirit of the Stop Snitching DVD - or counter to it - I propose a Start Snitching movement.
If you know the name and/or address of a dirt bike rider in your neighborhood, you might want to make that anonymous 311 call to the cops. A casual visit from Officer Friendly could act as a deterrent.
As for the clueless pedestrians, there's little to nothing we can do.
They'd just better pray my brakes never fail.