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Don't sacrifice Rice and White to the mob

Time to feed the jackals? We’ll soon know. Four of the Freddie Gray six have passed through the legal and administrative gauntlets with their police careers intact. There have been three acquittals in court; charges dropped for the remaining three officers. Two officers accepted minor administrative discipline. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was cleared of all administrative charges by a three-member trail board of police officers. Thus, only two officers involved in the Freddie Gray case — Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White — remain subject to administrative charges, which could result in the termination of their careers if they are found guilty of any of those charges. Mr. Rice’s hearing began on Monday (Ms. White’s hearing is scheduled for December 5). Lieutenant Rice’s attorney, in his opening statement, stated, “the police Department should ‘look in the mirror’ to find fault” (“Second officer’s hearing begins,” Nov. 14). And he is correct. If the BPD believed that the change in policy requiring the seat-belting of all prisoners was urgent, that policy should have been conveyed at roll call, so that all police officers would have been aware of the policy change on the day it became effective. Instead, the BPD disseminated the policy via email, thereby accepting the fact that implementation would stretch beyond the effective date as more and more officers gradually became aware of the change.

The NAACP, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, the City Council, many inner city blacks, and, of course, The Sun, have been calling for “justice” in the Freddie Gray case since he died. In other words, only a few police scalps will satisfy them. It’s unclear whether Police Commissioner Kevin Davis feels the same way. However, none of them seems willing to face the facts. If Gray had been injured in a rough ride, Dontae Allen, who also was in the police van, likely would have been injured as well, and he was not. Mr. Allen also initially said that he heard banging in Freddie Gray’s compartment. Mr. Allen is no friend of the police, yet he testified that his trip to Central Booking was a “smooth ride.”

If either Lieutenant Rice or Sergeant White is convicted of even a minor offense by their respective trial boards, their careers could be over. Commissioner Davis can terminate them even if a trial board recommends a lesser penalty; he cannot be involved if they are acquitted of all changes. Will Mr. Davis support Mr. Rice and/or Ms. White, good cops, neither of whom has been reported in the press to have had any complaints filed against them, by refusing to terminate them in the event that either is found guilty of any of the administrative charges? Or will he emulate former Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld III, who terminated Officer Salvatore Rivieri, a 19-year veteran who was within one year of qualifying for a police pension, because he yelled at a disrespectful 14-year kid who was illegally skateboarding in the Inner Harbor and repeatedly called the officer “Dude?” The trial board in that case recommended a five-day suspension for failure to file a report, acquitting Officer Rivieri of the more serious charges of using excessive force and being discourteous. Instead of accepting the recommendation or opting for a longer suspension, Mr. Bealefeld caved to public pressure and fired Officer Rivieri. Hopefully, the trial boards for officers Rice and White won’t give Commissioner Davis the opportunity to feed the jackals with the carcasses of their careers.

David Holstein, Parkville

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