I was both amused and not at all surprised to see the immediate and overwhelming condemnation of Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Mancuso for referring to the miscreants who terrorized downtown Baltimore as “criminals” (“Reaction to Inner Harbor commotion also ‘unacceptable’ and ‘regrettable,’” May 29). I suspect that someone in city government or the ACLU has access to a dictionary. They should look up the word “criminal” and study its meaning. It is a racially neutral term, though descriptive. Mr. Mancuso has a wide array of descriptors that he could have used for a mob out of control and oblivious to the safety of others. He chose one that is not racist as some have lamented.
I spent some time as a shift lieutenant in the Central District of the Baltimore Police Department. It was a dirty little secret that on certain holidays droves of inner city youth flocked to the Inner Harbor. They were pushed out by police in the late evening and then ran amok in the downtown and along the Howard Street corridor. I use the word “amok” with full knowledge of its meaning. Innocents were randomly attacked and property destroyed. Assaults were common and arrests were few due to the limited shift resources and the size of the roaming wolf packs. The best we could manage was to force them from the downtown area.
These occurrences were never noted in the press. They were not in harmony with the narrative the city preferred. The roving bands were vicious and had no regard for anyone. Mr. Mancuso was absolutely correct to remind officers to watch each other’s backs and not be lulled by the age of the predators. My choice of words may not suit some, but they are accurate and born of experience.