Even for the most staunch advocates of the Charm City’s better side, it’s tough to argue that Baltimore has had one of the toughest years of any American city. The best PR firm in New York City would have trouble spinning Baltimore’s 2017 into even a net wash, let alone a positive, and it looks like B’more has little intention of reforming its tattered reputation as the new year gets into its second month.
First, credit where credit is due. Baltimore has some of the best seafood America has to offer. Their crab, in particular, is alone worth a trip. You’d be hard-pressed to find a major American city with a more convenient hotel-to-professional sports stadium arrangement, as you can get from Camden Yards or M&T Bank Stadium to the inner harbor and back to your suite within a matter of walking minutes. But don’t you dare stray far from that triangulated area unless you’re looking to set your family up with a hefty life insurance payout.
And, please for the love of Ray Lewis, don’t you dare move to Baltimore, especially if you are a member of the lower-middle or lowest tax brackets.
If you choose to ignore our advice, here’s some of the things you can look forward to. The schools.
The Baltimore public school system put a new twist on the term ‘if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’’ in 2017. Let’s just say, they were tryin’. Kids in Baltimore don’t even have to swap answers or come up with hair-brained schemes to find loopholes in classroom testing oversight. Their teachers do it for them. You don’t even have to show up to pass the class, no lie.
Even if you are a parent who does their part and ensures their child gets to school, teachers who are going to cheat for them instead of educating them aren’t even the greatest concern. You have to worry about your kid catching a lethal cold.
And then there’s Baltimore’s finest. Admittedly, Baltimore’s inner-city population hasn’t been the most well-behaved over the years. They were the inspiration for the (phenomenal) reality-based HBO series The Wire, which made clear that nobody in B’more, from city hall to the police precincts or the neighborhood residents themselves are completely without fault for the city’s decay.
But c’mon, police! Even in Baltimore, you’ve got a reputation to uphold. As they say so often these days, ‘be better, just be better’.
And by ‘be better’, I mean it’s probably not the best look to continue the racketeering, robbing drug dealers instead of arresting them, and admitted profiling of ‘dope boy cars’.
Or is it?
Let’s take a closer look.
Just as we started this article with acknowledgement of Baltimore’s exquisite seafood and downtown layout, Baltimore PD should be praised for establishing what can only be referred to as revolutionary policing tactics.
Seriously, this is a brilliant way of vetting the bad guys from the drug-free loiterers. No need for wasting all that time getting warrants and probable cause. That’s so 2014.
‘ [Detective Maurice] Ward testified that his squad would prowl the streets for guns and drugs, with his supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, driving fast at groups of people and slamming on the brakes. The officers would pop their doors open to see who ran, then give chase and detain and search them. Ward said this occurred 10 to 20 times on slow nights, and more than 50 times, “easy,” on busier nights.’
Why would they use this tactic? Because, beside being seemingly legal – who says it’s illegal to speed up and slam on the brakes? – it works!
‘The officers had no reason to target the crowds other than to provoke someone who might have drugs or a gun into running. “A lot of times” guns and drugs were recovered in this way, Ward said.’ (Baltimore Sun)
Uh….Baltimore Sun? Provoking someone who has guns and/or drugs into giving themselves up by taking off like they’re running the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine sounds like a damn good reason to do the whole pull up and brake tactic. That’s kind of what cops are paid to do.
Look out for this tactic in an urban metropolis near you, it’s a game changer, if legal. It’s a classic game of chicken, and those drug dealers would usually blink first, much to the cops’ delight.
These tactics aren’t exactly, how would you call it? Legal. But hey, maybe they will be soon. Every instance for which these policemen are now being ‘frowned upon’ and ‘prosecuted’ have a simple, innocent explanation.
‘Ward said Jenkins liked to profile certain vehicles for traffic stops. Honda Accords, Acura TLs, Honda Odysseys were among the “dope boy cars” that they would pull over, claiming the drivers weren’t wearing seat belts or their windows were too heavily tinted.’
You think that Honda Odyssey full of seven-year-olds in baseball uniforms was going to throw the Baltimore PD off the blatant drug-running operation lying beneath the façade?
Ha! Think again.
‘Ward said Jenkins also believed males over the age of 18 carrying bookbags were suspicious and attempted to stop them.’
OK, in all seriousness now. A person over 18 carrying a book bag in inner-city Baltimore is suspicious. That thing ain’t filled with books. Well, it could be, and they’re just headed to their 6th grade math class. But in Baltimore, you don’t even have to show up to matriculate by the time you’re 19. Public library, my ass.
‘Jenkins would portray himself as a federal agent, telling drug dealers that he was taking their money and drugs but would let them go because they weren’t his ultimate target. Ward said the officers used illegal GPS trackers to follow the movements of some targets.’
How can you not take advantage of modern technology? Just going for the big fish, nothing to see here.
‘Jenkins would ask suspected drug dealers, “If you could put together a crew of guys and rob the biggest drug dealer in town, who would it be?” The officers would use the answers to determine who to target, Ward said.’
Sergeant Jenkins, you are perhaps the most cunning interrogator these eyes have ever read of. Somebody get this man a raise and a merit badge.
‘Ward said the officers kept BB guns in their vehicles “in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them.” He did not say whether the officers ever planted a BB gun on anyone.’
The guy was going to commit a crime eventually, anyway, right? Engage in a little bit of crime prevention, just like Minority Report. Get the bad guys off the streets before they strike again. It’s called being proactive.
We punish ambition, now? Is that what you’re telling me?
Sure, Supervisor Jenkins also master-minded a scheme to get a man’s house keys, rob his safe of $100,000, then when found out plant a note from a made-up side chick saying he had gotten her pregnant so that his wife would stop handling his legal affairs as he sat in prison.
Then Supervisor Jenkins suggested to Officer Ward that they do the whole thing over again.
All part of the job on Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force. Trial to resume Wednesday, with more easily-explained-away details to come, to be sure.
Seriously, don’t move to Baltimore.