Sadly, there is nothing distinct about this article or any another tragic and common shooting. And like most Sun crime-incident articles, it includes the boilerplate language, “Anonymous tips can be sent to the Metro Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7LOCKUP.” Baltimore police department crime-related media advisories also include the number.
However, “lockup” advertises and reinforces the “us versus them” culture of unconstitutional policing that has historically pervaded the police department. This culture was outlined in the department’s consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department and evidenced in the recent Gun Trace Task Force scandal. This has contributed to a lack of trust and the “no snitch” mentality among residents of the communities experiencing high crime and most in need of responsive police services.
Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland is a well-intentioned volunteer organization that helps regional law enforcement solve serious crimes. And the police do need anonymous tips to get dangerous criminals off the streets. But the police department must take every opportunity to communicate its commitment to community partnership and empowerment. “Lockup” evokes the rough “clear the corner” tactics that alienate residents and do little to address underlying socioeconomic problems that lead to crime.
Metro Crime Stoppers should either change the vanity acronym of its tip line (perhaps to 1-866-PROTECT) or the police department should find an alternative system. Meanwhile, The Sun can easily publish the number (1-866-756-2587) without the acronym.