POLICE-INVOLVED SHOOTING IN YORK

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YORK TOWNSHIP, Pa. —A Baltimore City police officers shot an acquaintance outside his York County, Pa., home on Tuesday, authorities said.

Police said the officer opened fire on a man sitting in a car around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Brentwood Apartment Complex. Authorities said the officer and others called 911 and waited for police to respond.

The victim, identified as David Hohman Sr., 34, of Baltimore, was taken to York Hospital with gunshot sounds to the upper torso and arm. He was listed in stable condition.

York Area Regional Police identified the Baltimore police officer as John Torres, 33, of York, saying he was off-duty but in uniform at the time of the incident. Torres was taken into custody and was being charged with attempted homicide and aggravated assault.

Officials said the men were acquaintances with an ongoing dispute. Witnesses were unsure what triggered the incident but they heard how it ended.

“I was sitting in the kitchen with my mother and we heard eight shots and froze for a minute and I went outside to see what was going on,” a resident said.

Baltimore police have sent an investigator to the scene. Torres, a 12-year veteran, has been suspended without pay.

There was no word on other details surrounding the shooting.

This is the second time Torres has faced charges for shooting someone. In 2008, Torres fatally shot off-duty Officer Norman Stamp outside an east Baltimore strip club. Witnesses said Stamp pulled out brass knuckles during a fight and Torres responded by using his stun gun. Witnesses said Stamp recovered from the shock and pulled his service weapon, and that’s when Torres shot him. A jury cleared Torres on the grounds that Stamp failed to identify himself as an officer.

Torres remained with the Baltimore City Police Department, working on the Neighborhood Patrol Bureau while commuting from his home in York. Court records show that he has been named in two civil suits for his actions on the force, including a 2008 case that involved a fight outside a Baltimore bar. Records show both cases were settled.

 

Please share this information about how the Baltimore riots of today are related to the unconstitutional policies of Mayor and then Governor O’Malley.

All through the Governorship of Martin O’Malley,I sat in the Judiciary Committee listening to citizens of Baltimore come before the committee and tell stories about how they were arrested for seemingly innocuous events. They testified many of these events occurred while Martin O’Malley was the mayor of Baltimore and that some continued after he had become the Governor.

Under O’Malley Baltimore Police adopted a theory of policing based upon zero tolerance. No matter how small the infraction, they arrest the person, sitting on the stoop drinking a beer? Arrest them because they may be tomorrow’s bank robber. Someone litters or spits on the sidewalk? Run them in because that will undoubtedly lead to drive by shootings.

In New York, the theory originated that if you want to keep a neighborhood from going down hill you immediately fix the broken window on the abandoned building before that leads to graffiti and squatters moving in. That is probably a good theory with a building and a neighborhood but people are not buildings and neighborhoods are not families. It does not necessarily translate as a, viable theory for policing a neighborhood to prevent criminal behavior.

The “broken windows” theory for stopping an acceleration of crime does not work as well when human beings are concerned. Human beings have rights, they have lives, feelings and pride. When zero tolerance is applied to law enforcement in a neighborhood and people are arrested for littering while sitting on the steps of their home, or for having an open container on their porch, taken to jail, and then never even charged with a crime it results in an arrest record they end up with a record for having been arrested without having been given the chance to challenge the charges. They end up with a record that has numerous adverse affects, including their ability to get a job and maintain it.

You can not expect to treat tens of thousands of citizens this way and not expect a deterioration in the relationship between the enforcers of this policy and those whom it is being enforced upon. O’Malley was aware of what was occurring and if fact took the same attitude towards minorities in the city as he has toward law abiding gun owners in Maryland. Arrest anyone breaking any law, or carrying any gun and worry about guilt or innocence later.

I sat in the Judiciary Committee as a conservative listening as the Delegate Jill Carter brought this problem to our attention. The ACLU, the NAACP and countless citizens came before our committee and told us of these practices. Interestingly, the Democrat leadership in the legislature chose to protect the former Mayor, and Governor, O’Malley instead of the 250 thousand young black and Latino males who were the victims of the O’Malley policing policy.

By honoring my oath to uphold the Constitution, I found myself, allied with those groups and the one or two brave Democrats, like Jill Carter, who were speaking out for her constituents despite the potential embarrassment to the Democrat Governor.

There were things that were attempted to be done and can still be implemented to alleviate the distrust. We offered a list of crimes for which arrest was not necessary but rather left to the discretion of the officer to either give a citation to the offender to appear in court for the offense or to arrest if it were deemed necessary by the officer. For example, this would allow the officer who was called to a home because the owner saw his stolen car parked across the street to issue a citation to the owner of the car who was sitting on his home steps waiting for the officers to arrive drinking a beer instead of arresting the victim of a stolen car who made the mistake of having an open beer on his stoop while awaiting for the police to arrive. This bill flew through the Judiciary Committee and the House with bipartisan support and was picked apart in the Senate.

Delegate Carter also offered legislation which was rejected and went out of her way to stand up against the tyrannical policies which violated the fourth amendment. I recall a bill, of Delegate Haynes’, was passed which called for automatic expungement of the arrest records of those who were arrested but never charged with any crime. This helped relieve some of the injury done to individuals arrested but not charged as a result of the O’Malley “arrest them all” policy, however it
but did not address the distrust being entrenched within this community by the continued unconstitutional police actions.

Several months ago there was a report released about what can and should be done regarding policing in Baltimore. With this report came a minority report issued by the local FOP which was very specific, requested better training for all officers and punishment for bad officers. Amazingly, the powers that be ignored the call by police to provide what the citizens are now calling for as a result of the death of Freddie Gray.

Former Mayor O’Malley’s policies contributed to the riots last night but he is not alone in responsibility for them. Also responsible for allowing the mistrust to grow are those who knew about the unconstitutional actions of Mayor O’Malley and did nothing when they possessed the power and the obligation to do so.

Now the question is, Will those who have an obligation to report what the truth is about the history of Mayor O’Malley’s failed policies and the continuation of those policies today to lead to further escalation of the problems between police and the citizens of Baltimore?

What we do know is that Presidential Candidate O’Malley, will do what Governor O’Malley and Mayor O’Malley did before, which is, with a straight face, squint and tell us that he has created a better world for all of us.

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White Police sergeant spared jail time

 

BCPD

It’s the case that involves what has become known as “ratgate,” uncovered by the WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team. It’s called “ratgate” because the key witness in the case, also a police officer, had a dead rat left on his car, an incident of alleged witness intimidation.

The officer sentenced Wednesday did himself no favors by claiming what he did the night of the drug arrest he’d do again.

The arrest happened in October 2011 in an east Baltimore neighborhood. Drug suspect Antoine Green was locked up without incident, but then taken back off the police wagon into a house and assaulted while handcuffed by city police Officer Anthony Williams.

Williams arrived at the scene off-duty to intervene on behalf of his then-girlfriend who lived in the house in question.

Williams was convicted by a jury of assault and hindering the investigation that followed.

In court Wednesday for sentencing, Williams was unapologetic, saying, “I shouldn’t be in this situation. I did nothing wrong. Would I change what I did that day? No.”

Judge Brook Murdock saw it differently, saying, “The community has a right to expect police will obey the law. The court cannot look away and pretend this is like any other day.”

She sentenced Williams to 45 days in jail.

The case involves Detective Joe Crystal, who was involved in the arrest of Green and blew the whistle to internal investigators on what really happened.

As previously reported by the 11 News I-Team, Crystal said he then was targeted with taunts and threats from four different police supervisors, discouraging his role as a witness in the case. He kept a journal, which was known to police and prosecutors. He was targeted at his home in Baltimore County, when someone left a dead rat on his car in November 2012.

In court Wednesday, Crystal’s father called on the FBI to investigate the allegations of intimidation.

“I think it would be better to have an impartial federal agency look into all the matters so it could be properly investigated. After two years, Joe has not given an official statement, so there is no way there has been an official investigation into this matter by the Internal Affairs Unit,” Bob Crystal said.

The supervisor the night of the drug arrest, Sgt. Marinos Gialamas, was convicted of misconduct in this case. He will be sentenced Friday. The police union has come to his defense as the union president is expected to testify for him as a character witness.

Sgt. Marinos Gialamas got help Friday from the police union but in turn drew criticism from the father of the key witness in the case — the detective targeted by allegations of witness intimidation.

Gialamas seemed to choke up when facing a judge during the sentencing, I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller said.

“I never thought a split-second decision doing my job could lead to this situation. This is the last place I thought I’d be in 19 years as a police officer,” Gialamas said during the proceedings.

That split-second decision was what Gialamas did in October 2011 when he ordered a police van carrying drug suspect Antoine Green to stop after Green had been arrested and the van had pulled away.

Green was then taken into a house and beaten by another police officer, Anthony Williams. Williams was off duty and had arrived to intervene on behalf of his girlfriend at the time who lived in the house where Green was arrested.

Williams was sentenced to 45 days in jail on Wednesday in connection to the case. But the judge cut Gialamas a break, sparing him jail time for his misconduct conviction and instead putting him on probation.

The police union president who appeared as a character witness for Gialamas said the sergeant should keep his job.

“We hope that the Baltimore Police Department will now give us a chance to talk about why he made the decision he did that night and let him continue his career,” said police union spokesman Bob Cherry.

The union’s position was slammed by Robert Crystal, the father of Detective Joe Crystal, the whistleblower in the case who testified against Williams and Gialamas and became the target of alleged witness intimidation.

In a private journal, Detective Crystal wrote about being taunted and harassed by four police supervisors who thought he’d snitched on Gialamas.

“It’s good that he stood up for one of his officers, Mr. Gialamas; however, when my son went to him in fear for his life, he basically told him, and I quote, ‘You should either go back into patrol or find another department to go work for,’” Robert Crystal said Friday.

Still Haven’t Learned There Lesson

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Updated: Wednesday, March 12 2014, 06:44 PM EDT Baltimore police and the ACLU announced a landmark legal settlement on Wednesday, over the public’s right to videotape police officers in public. The case started out as a lawsuit filed in a city court, but wound up going all the way to the Supreme Court. Nearly four years after the incident that sparked the case the plaintiff feels he has justice, and his attorneys feel the First Amendment has been upheld. At Preakness 2010 police arresting a female were videotaped by several witnesses, including Christopher Sharp. Moments later police confiscated Sharp’s cell phone and ultimately destroyed all the images stored on it, including person videos of Sharp and his son. “Originally I asked for an apology,” Sharp said. “That was it. An apology and I wanted to know why it happened to me.” When the ACLU heard Sharp’s story they took the case to court, arguing that police had violated his First Amendment rights. Since then there have been several high-profile cases of similar incidents. Eventually police Commissioner Anthony Batts issued a formal change on police policy. “The citizens have the right to film us,” Batts said. “They have the right to videotape us, to watch us.  We carry guns, which have the right to take human life. We have the right to arrest people. We will be held to a higher standard and will be kept at a higher standard.” Sharp got his apology, along with a settlement worth $25,000. The ACLU will receive another $225,000 from the city to cover legal expenses. Terms of the settlement were read to aloud to the media; “The damages claimed by Mr. Sharp included emotional trauma, humiliation, distress and damage to personal property resulting from interaction with the police and destruction of personal videos on his phone.” Police Commissioner Batts says there will still be instances where officers have the right to tell people to back away while he or she is conducting her job, especially when an arrest is being made.

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Welcome to My World

rat

Officer found rat on car after assisting probe of colleagues

A dead rat was left on the windshield of Detective Joseph Crystal’s car

February 19, 2014|By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun

Officer Joe Crystal is now on an off-the-grid police assignment. He is a whistle-blower, a key witness against a supervisor, Sgt. Marinos Gialamas, and another officer, Officer Anthony Williams. They crossed the line in October 2011 in east Baltimore with the arrest of Antoine Green, a drug suspect who had run into a house to hide. The house belonged to Williams’ girlfriend. When Williams showed up, Gialamas ordered the police van transporting Green to stop. Green was taken off the van and back into the house and assaulted.

Crystal was at the scene that night, and he knew what had happened was wrong. He tried to report it but when he called a sergeant he knew to ask for advice, he said he was told to mostly keep quiet.

“He said, ‘If they ask you if you helped bring him in the house, tell the truth. But don’t them anything else you heard or saw.’ He said, ‘And don’t go to internal because they will just try to get you to rat,’” Crystal said.

But Crystal didn’t keep quiet. He became a witness in the investigation of Gialamas and Williams and word apparently spread fast.

“I remember a sergeant drawing pictures of cheese on Post-Its and writing ‘Crystal is cheese’ and telling me that people are saying I snitched on Sgt. Gialamas,” Crystal said.

Crystal kept a private journal detailing the taunting and harassment that he said came from four different supervisors and other officers.

“The detective pulls up and says, ‘Hey, are you guys having a cheese party?’” Crystal said. “I didn’t want any problems and he said, ‘What? I’m just asking whether you are having a cheese party. I know rats like cheese.”

Crystal said he missed out on a new assignment to a different squad. He said a lieutenant told him why: “I have done big enough cases, good enough cases. For all intents and purposes, I should go to the squad but it was perceived that I snitched on Sgt. Gialamas and since I snitched on Sgt. Gialamas, I couldn’t go. To be on that squad, you had to do things in the gray area and this was going to follow me for my entire career.”

Gialamas and Williams were criminally charged on Oct. 18, 2012. Crystal said the pressure mounted and a sergeant called him at home.

“I was home with my wife and he started screaming at me, telling me Gialamas is saying I am snitching and I am the star witness,” Crystal said. “The punch line of it all, ‘You better pray to God you’re not the star witness.’ He said it multiple times. When I hung up the phone, I said to my wife, ‘I think he basically just threatened me.’”

Days later, Crystal said he was asked by a supervisor to change a date on a police voucher.

“When that happened, I was in panic mode because what I had believed was he wanted me to falsify these documents and then he was going to be charged with falsifying a report or something like that,” Crystal said.

In November 2012, Crystal went back to meet with prosecutors handling the police misconduct case. He said he told them he feared for his safety. Eight days after the meeting, Crystal found a rat on the windshield of his car.

“Its head was underneath the wiper blade and it looked like the guts were ripped open of the rat,” Crystal said. “The first thought was ‘Oh (expletive).’ I couldn’t believe it was as bad as it was.”

When asked if he had any doubt that the rat on the windshield was related to the Gialamas-Williams investigation, Crystal said no.

“I just felt it was people’s way of telling me even more (that) nobody wants you here, leave,” Crystal said.

Crystal testified against Gialamas and Williams. Gialamas was convicted of a misconduct charge, Williams of an assault charge. No one was charged for the rat incident targeting Crystal.

The four supervisors who Crystal said taunted and harassed him are in their same jobs or better in the Police Department.
Read more: http://www.wbaltv.com/news/maryland/i-team/witness-in-baltimore-police-abuse-case-speaks-out/24702332#ixzz2uWPUa200

 

 

 

It was a dead rat the detective found on his windshield of his Toyota Corolla on a fall morning, the corpse peeking out from under the windshield wiper — a sign, he thought, that his colleagues in the department saw him as a snitch.

Detective Joseph Crystal had been in contact with prosecutors who eventually filed charges against his sergeant and another officer in connection with the beating of a drug suspect. The rat appeared a few weeks later.

Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for State’s Attorney’s Gregg L. Bernstein, said that prosecutors and police investigated the incident as an act of witness intimidation but could not determine who was behind it.

Attorneys for the two officers — whom a Baltimore jury convicted last week — said their clients had nothing to do with the rat.

Sgt. Marinos Gialamas was found guilty of misconduct, while Officer Anthony Williams was convicted of assault and obstruction of justice, after he asked his girlfriend, Nakishia Epps, to lie to internal affairs investigators.

Police spokesman J. Eric Kowalczyk had no specific comment on the incident, but said the department remains “committed to rooting out corruption.”

“Our obligation is to protect neighborhoods with officers of the highest ethical standards,” he said.

The case developed out of an October 2011 drug arrest gone awry. Officers saw a man named Antoine Green throw away what they suspected to be drugs and tried to chase him, but lost him in an alleyway near the 2200 block of Prentiss Place.

As he fled police, Green broke into a home that backed onto the alley, thinking it was vacant, prosecutors said. Instead, he had actually kicked in the door to the home of a police officer’s girlfriend.

She called the police — and Williams. Green was arrested at the home after a struggle with an officer who found him in the basement.

After he was handcuffed and put in a wagon to be taken away, police brought Green back into the house — so the woman could identify him, according to the defense, or so that he could apologize — and it was then that Williams, who was off duty, beat him.

Green was quickly charged with breaking into the home and drug offenses. Word of the potential misconduct by police only reached the state’s attorney’s office through back channels, according to arguments ahead of the officers’ trial, after Crystal contacted a prosecutor he knew.

But Crystal called police in Baltimore County as soon as he found the rat and quickly drew a connection to the investigation.

 

City Council grills PD on new plans to fight violence

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City Council grills PD on new plans to fight violence

Hearing addresses murder rate, what’s being done to bring it down

City Council grills police on murder rate

BALTIMORE —Baltimore City lawmakers got their first opportunity of the New Year to grill police on what’s being done to bring down the murder rate in the city, which ended with 235 homicides in 2013, the highest number since 2009.

The New Year brought no break for city homicide detectives, who opened 2014 with a father and son being gunned down on Edmondson Avenue on New Year’s Day.

“The strategy we’re pursuing right now is not working,” said City Councilman Jim Kraft.

“It just seems like the tactics being used aren’t effective,” another councilman said.

The City Council’s Public Safety Committee demanded answers about how police are retooling their approach based on a recent consultant’s report.

“If you read this report, it’s like the Police Department has gone to hell, and crime is running rampant all over the place, and the entire system is broken,” Kraft said.

Commissioner Anthony Batts did not attend the hearing. His top brass instead told lawmakers that most of the city’s gun violence stems from the drug trade.

“I have a beef with you, I get you, you turn around and get me. If you can’t get me, you get my associate. Part of the plan is to identify not just the perpetrator but to identify the associates,” explained police Col. Darryl DeSousa.

Councilman Brandon Scott said that’s why it’s critical for police to get better at proactively gathering intelligence.

“They think the intelligence was slow. It wasn’t getting from the top down or from the bottom up to the command to make sure those incidents didn’t happen,” Scott told 11 News.

Police said they are taking steps to improve intelligence gathering, including from daily crime calls to coordinate information across districts and holding commanders accountable for what happens or is missed in their district.

“It gives them more weapons for them to fight — who are the bad guys and their associates. We don’t want to put our cops out there blindly so they know who to look for and whatnot,” DeSousa said.

There was some debate about resurrecting the city’s gun buyback program. Police said they don’t have any data on how effective those programs are but said they’re willing to try anything to reduce the number of guns on the street.

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DID YOU REALLY BELIEVE WHAT THEY TOLD YOU

Updated: Tuesday, December 17 2013, 05:11 PM EST The lawyer representing the family of an East Baltimore man who died in police custody blasted a report issued by a special panel which concluded the officers acted within the law. “They were overly solicitous to the police officers, that in my opinion places the credibility of their report in question,” J. Wyndal Gordon told FOX45. The report released last week examined the death of Anthony Anderson, who died in police custody after he was arrested for drug possession in September 2012. The panel, made up of law enforcement experts, interviewed officers and several key witnesses at the request of Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. Three officers from the now defunct VCIS unit (Violent Crime Impact Section) told the panel they witnessed Anderson make a drug buy in East Baltimore, prompting one of the detectives to approach Anderson from behind. The officer then told the panel he executed an “Apex Move” by putting Anderson in a bear hug and then throwing him to the ground. Another officer told the committee he then nudged Anderson with his foot. But witness accounts conflicted with the officer’s statements.  Several members of Anderson’s family told the committee officers kicked Anderson after he was handcuffed, a version of events the panel dismissed but Gordon says contributed to Anderson’s death. “He died from being kicked to death,” Gordon said.  “Not one aspect of that report has addressed the post arrest; he was handcuffed and violently tortured.” A state medical examiner ruled Anderson’s death a homicide due to blunt force trauma. According to the autopsy, Anderson suffered several broken ribs, a punctured spleen, and damage to his liver which hemorrhaged after his arrest. The medical examiner told the panel that it was possible the injuries were sustained during the takedown. However, the panel concluded the takedown maneuver called the “Apex move” complied with departmental procedures even though the officer’s account of how he employed the tactic differed from how it is taught. According to sources familiar with departmental training, the “Apex move” uses the suspects opposing force to take him or her to the ground by pulling his or her hand forward while swiping the suspect’s legs from behind. But the officer told the panel he grabbed Anderson from behind in a bear hug, before taking him to the ground, a variation the panel attributed to improvisation by the officer based upon his knowledge of wrestling. “Detective (1) has a wrestling background, so this take down is something he did before or is very familiar with,” the report says. But Gordon says the discrepancy points to panel’s lack of objectivity in evaluating the entire arrest. “In order for the committee to evaluate the circumstances surrounding his death they have to review factual information,” he said. “The apex maneuver as it was taught was not performed in the same or like  manner.” Despite the controversy over its use, police confirmed the “Apex move” is still part of the department’s training curriculum. “Apex take-down is still taught.” Lt. John Kowalczyk told FOX45 in an email. CLICK HERE to listen to the 911 calls from the scene of the fatal arrest. [EDIT: Violent Crime Impact Section name/acronym corrected]

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Officer sentenced for accidental shooting

GOOD AFTERNOON, EVERYONE. I AM SARAH CALDWELL IN WE BEGIN WITH BREAKING NEWS. 16 YEAR VETERAN OF THE BALTIMORE COUNTY POLICE DEPARTMENT, WILLIAM KERN, HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR SHOOTING AND CRITICALLY INJURING RECRUIT RAYMOND GREG IN A TRAINING EXERCISE. BARRY SIMMS HAS MORE ON THE STORY. WILLIAM KERN HAS BEEN A BALTIMORE CITY POLICE OFFICER FOR NEARLY TWO DECADES AND TODAY HE WAS SENTENCED TO 18 MONTHS IN JAIL WITH ALL BUT 16 DAYS SUSPENDED FOR RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT. HE WILL SERVE TWO MONTHS IN THE BALTIMORE COUNTY DETENTION CENTER. HE WAS CONVICTED OF THE RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT CHARGE. IN FEBRUARY HE BROUGHT ALIVE WEAPON TO AN UNAUTHORIZED POLICE TRAINING EXERCISE AT THE CLOSE ROSEWOOD CENTER IN OWINGS MILLS. HE SHOT AND CRITICALLY INJURED POLICE RECRUIT RAYMOND GREG. HE REMAINS IN REHABILITATION HOSPITAL. KERN HAD AN UNHEALTHY ATTACHMENT TO HIS GUN AND TWICE DURING THE TRAINING EXERCISE PULLED OUT THE GUN RATHER THAN THE PAINTBALL AMMUNITIONS PISTOL. HE SAID HE WAS TRYING TO TEACH RECRUITS ABOUT A LESSON. GREG’S FAMILY WAS IN COURT TODAY AND DID NOT REACT TO THE SENTENCE. THE FAMILY IS VERY HURT AND DISAPPOINTED. THAT IS ALL I CAN SAY. I DO NOT QUESTION THAT HE IS SORRY, I DO NOT CHALLENGE THAT AT ALL, I DO NOT THINK HE IS AN EVIL PERSON, HE IS UNQUESTIONABLY SORRY, BUT HE STILL NEEDS TO BE PUNISHED FOR WHAT HE DID. HE DID APOLOGIZE TO RAYMOND GRAY AND GRAY’S FAMILY AND HE IS ALSO TO UNDERGO PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PSYCHIATRIC SCREENING THAT

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Baltimore City Police Blasted

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SHE IS UP SET BUT THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO COMPLAIN

I WROTE ABOUT THE BEST WAY TO GET RESULTS WHEN DEALING WITH THIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

updated: Thursday, October 10 2013, 11:22 AM EDT Frustration with Baltimore police was palpable Tuesday evening as city residents blasted the department for ignoring relatives of people who have been killed by police. The meeting at Morgan State University was called by members of the Baltimore Black Caucus to discuss relations between the community and the police department. But the gathering quickly turned tense as relatives of people who died in a variety of police-involved incidents expressed anger and disgust. In this video Yolanda Williams, the mother of Jordasha Rollins who was killed in an accident involving a police chase a year ago, vents her frustration with the department to city police commissioner Anthony Batts. The commissioner told the audience that he is working to implement reforms, but that many of the agency’s problems with training and officer behavior were deeply entrenched.

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O’Malley tries to rehab his crime-fighting legacy

Reviving ArrestFest 2005 doesn’t seem like a wise or legitimate strategy for Baltimore

  • Given what he said recently about solving Baltimore’s crime problem, one imagines Martin O’Malleycharging into the dressing room of a police district station, flipping the poker table upside down and yelling, “Get off your butts, you guys, and go arrest everybody!”

Except, instead of “butts,” he’d probably use that other word he used in 2001 when, as the cocky first-term mayor of Charm City, O’Malley famously trash-talked Pat Jessamy for not prosecuting a case our then-state’s attorney considered a loser.

Back in those heady days, O’Malley was all about bringing new urgency to the crime fight, and his zeal was appreciated. He considered his election a mandate to have the police make lots and lots of arrests, even for minor “quality-of-life” crimes, under a zero-tolerance strategy.

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There were thousands of arrests — 100,000 a year in a city of about 635,000 residents. In August 2005, police set a record with street corner sweeps. I called it ArrestFest. They brought 8,964 cases — a third of which were later dropped by Jessamy’s prosecutors.

Still, violent crime went down in Baltimore, as it did throughout the country. O’Malley claims that his strategies led by 2009 to the “largest reduction in total crime and property crime and the second-largest reduction in violent crime of the 20 largest cities in the country.”

Of course, by 2009, O’Malley was three years gone from Baltimore. He had been elected governor in 2006, pulling 75 percent of the city vote. You take that result, on top of his two elections as mayor — a white candidate in a majority black city — and you could conclude that most Baltimoreans must have been pleased with his crime-focused administration. In fact, I think there’s little doubt about that.

It’s here I speak to the Great Ambivalence of Baltimoreans who supported O’Malley and his ArrestFest strategy. Let’s be honest about how we felt about it back then. Baltimore was coming out of the dreary years of crack cocaine and 300-plus annual homicides. Everyone wanted cops to respect citizens’ rights, but everyone wanted (perhaps even more) to see a significant and sustained reduction in crime, too, and people all over the city were sold on zero-tolerance.

I interviewed dozens of ex-offenders who were looking for jobs in Baltimore in the summer and fall of 2005, during the height of ArrestFest. Almost to a man they cited police pressure on street corners as a reason why they wanted a legitimate job. These men, roughly between 25 and 35 years of age, also spoke of the dangers of going back to the street and selling drugs; some just seemed burned out or ashamed of themselves. But the threat of arrests and more jail time — disruptions to the lives they were attempting to rebuild — were high on the list of reasons they wanted real work.

So threat of arrest was powerful motivation for those men, and I used to think that was a good thing. But that was easy for me to say: middle-aged white guy whose neighborhood was never the scene of ArrestFest.

Not even ex-offenders, who have served time for their crimes, should have to fear being arrested for little or no reason in their city. It took the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — what O’Malley now calls “ideologues of the left” — to point out this profound flaw in the mass-arrests strategy. They filed a lawsuit, alleging widespread abuse of police powers and the arrests of numerous young male Baltimoreans, most of them black, without probable cause.

In 2010, well after O’Malley had become governor, the city settled the suit for $870,000. The police agreed to reject the strategy of mass arrests.

Since then, we had the Bealefeld years, when, while serving O’Malley’s successors as police commissioner, Fred Bealefeld officially implemented a strategy of targeted enforcement. We can’t arrest our way out of violent crime, Bealefeld said repeatedly. “Bad guys with guns” were the targets, and during that time shootings and homicides dropped further.

Now Bealefeld is gone, and shootings and homicides have started to increase again.

And what is O’Malley’s idea to stem the surge? Revive ArrestFest. Make more arrests and crime will go down, he says.

There’s no direct, proven correlation between more arrests and a sustained reduction in crime — there was a reduction in crime with Bealefeld’s strategy, too — but you probably won’t convince the governor of that. Don’t tell O’Malley, a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, that the costly settlement of the ACLU/NAACP lawsuit constituted a repudiation of his strategy. He appears to be in the midst of trying to rehabilitate this part of his legacy for a larger audience.

And some people will find it appealing. Making more arrests seems intuitively like a good idea; it always does, at first.

But targeted enforcement — quality over quantity in arrests — combined with smart, therapeutic strategies for at-risk juveniles, drug addicts and paroled adults makes more sense for the long-term abatement of crime in Baltimore.

  •  Rodricks2:49 p.m. EDT, September 28, 2013

dan.rodricks@baltsun.com

DIGGING UP OLD CIVILRIGHTS VIOLATIONS

 

Martin O’Malley’s Failed Promise As Baltimore Mayor Will Stay With Him, No Matter Who Wins The Governor’s Race

KAREN CALDICOTT

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By Van Smith | Posted 11/1/2006

You Really Oughta Vote: Part Two of Two

IN THE SUMMER OF 1999, when then-City Councilman Martin O’Malley was running for mayor of Baltimore at age 36, he wrote With Change There Is Hope: A Blueprint for Baltimore’s Future. It was a two-part, two-booklet title, one bound in a green cover, the other blue. They were handed out far and wide during the last weeks of the 1999 campaign. O’Malley dubbed them collectively as “my epistle” or “my book,” and separately as “the Green Book” and “the Blue Book.”

Today, With Change There Is Hope represents a sweeping archive of O’Malley’s promises to voters. In politics, that’s a contract, a document that sets down what’s expected of the victor in return for votes. There is no penalty for failing to uphold the contract, but when its terms aren’t met, elections–such as the gubernatorial one that will decide between Democrat O’Malley, Republican incumbent Robert Ehrlich, and Green Party candidate Ed Boyd on Nov. 7–can result either in punishment or forgiveness.

Baltimore’s voters held up their end of the bargain with O’Malley when they first backed him seven years ago. O’Malley was expected to deliver–a lot. He’d set his plan down in the 40-page Green Book, which focused on crime reduction, and the 80-page Blue Book, which covered everything else–and how all of it is tied to the crime rate. Those who supported O’Malley’s re-election in the 2004 election did so despite the fact that many of his pledges remained unmet. Now, joined by voters in the rest of the state, they will decide whether to back him again in his bid for governor. O’Malley still owes Baltimore. If he wins the election, he’ll be expected to pay it back from the statehouse. If he loses, he’ll work off his debt at City Hall.

O’Malley focuses on the debt paid, not the debt remaining, as he makes the campaign rounds for governor. He has plenty of accomplishments with which to fill speeches. The main one, perhaps, was described in an Oct. 5 speech at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health: “Instead of wallowing in a culture of failure and excuses, we came together to take on the tough challenges and made progress.”

Running to replace Ehrlich this year, O’Malley recites a concisely packaged 10-point plan instead of handing out lengthy manifestos. Copies of With Change There Is Hopeare hard to come by today. They are not available online (until now: visit www.citypaper.com/news). Google its title with the word “Baltimore,” and all that comes up is a link toCity Paper‘s 2002 Best of Baltimore “Best Scandal: Police Corruption” blurb. But O’Malley’s 7-year-old collection of green and blue IOUs remains in the archives of history, ready to be dusted off once again.

“My approach as mayor will focus on two basic concepts–urgency and accountability,” he wrote in the Blue Book’s conclusion, after setting the bar for his own performance. He wanted change, urgently, and change came after he became mayor. But it often came not as promised, or sometimes not at all. That’s not surprising, given O’Malley’s great expectations. Urgency is hard to measure (he certainly seemed urgent), but accountability is O’Malley’s middle name. Now he’s accountable for how things changed, or have not.

Just as the mayor’s CitiStat program tries to keep city agencies on their toes by measuring government activities, journalists can apply statistical yardsticks to O’Malley’s promises. There are two sources of information for this exercise: what O’Malley said would happen, and what happened according to the numbers and known circumstances. (Numerous phone messages and e-mails to the mayor’s communications director, Steve Kearney, and O’Malley spokespersons Rick Abbruzzese and Raquel Guillory, were not returned.) Given the vast landscape of his panoramic vision for Baltimore in With Change There Is Hope, it’s best to begin by concentrating, as O’Malley did when he first ran for mayor, on a single issue: crime, and how everything hinges on it.

 

O’Malley’s June 23, 1999, mayoral campaign announcement speech, delivered at the corner of Harford Road and the Alameda, drew a small crowd. He made up for the lack of attention by using the speech’s text as the Green Book’s opener: “My name is Martin O’Malley. I believe I can turn this city around by making it a safer place, and I mean to begin doing it now.”

First, though, O’Malley had to get elected, and right off the bat his credibility was questioned. He told a story in the speech about having been to the same corner the previous midnight, when he was approached by a drug dealer, who asked, “What do you want?” The exchange gave O’Malley a rhetorical hook for his announcement.

“That’s a question,” the would-be mayor said to 30 or so supporters gathered to hear his speech, “that each of us in this city needs to answer in this important election year.”

Sun columnist Dan Rodricks suspected the hook was hogwash and immediately got on the case. Rodricks visited the neighborhood and found a resident who said that Harford Road and the Alameda is not a drug corner, but a “hackin’ corner” where “guys hang out lookin’ for rides.” O’Malley told Rodricks “it’s no big deal,” and explained that the guy on the corner who gave him his “What do you want?” line for the speech “was doing that hand motion they do when the markets open. It’s a notorious corner. That’s what they do there.” But, Rodricks reported, O’Malley “can’t say for sure that the young guy wanted to sell him drugs. It’s a hunch.” The columnist gave O’Malley’s poetic license its propers: “Good stuff, councilman. Even without that Monday-midnight story.”

O’Malley is prone to hunches, and has thus far benefited from people forgiving him when they don’t pan out. His main hunch as a councilman with mayoral ambitions was that if you solve the crime problem, everything else will fall into place. From O’Malley’s perspective, the revival of schools, housing, health, jobs, population, investment, tax revenues, the real-estate market–in short, all that makes cities tick–depended on public safety, government’s primary responsibility. He waxed on this theme in the Green Book, asking voters to “Imagine how quickly our great City will come back to life when we get hold of public safety and start closing down our expanding drug markets.” He pointed to other cities, such as New York, as crime-fighting models and suggested we simply copy what worked elsewhere.

In a 1999 phone interview about his crime plan, O’Malley was emphatic. “There is no way to create jobs or to improve the business environment if the only businesses expanding are these open-air drug markets. So that’s first and foremost,” he asserted. “It affects everything.” He went on to spell out his policing strategy, which had various names: “quality of life,” “zero tolerance,” and “broken windows.” The idea, he said, was to “improve the reality of public safety” by “changing enforcement priorities, by redefining the mission of the police as restoring public order on our corners and improving quality of life on our corners. When you do that the bigger crimes become easier to solve and easier to deter, and you drive the drug markets indoors, which drives down the random violence that is inflating our numbers to be some of the worst in the nation.”

At O’Malley’s announcement, he called the corner where he was standing an “open-air drug market,” and promised within six months to make it and nine others like it “things of our city’s past.” He added that “in the second year, 20 more open-air drug markets will likewise be shut down, and thus will the people of this city easily measure our success or failure.”

After six months in office, in a letter to The Sun, the mayor explained that he’d taken care of the 10 drug corners. And he described how it had happened: Police, city inspectors, and public-works crews had tidied them up, pronto. It was that easy.

The two-year mark in 2002, by which time O’Malley promised 20 more cleaned-up corners came and went without fanfare. As 2003 began, public frustration about the continuing crime problem was evident.

“We still have open-air drug markets on our corners,” City Councilman Bernard “Jack” Young (D-12th District)–usually, like most members of the council, an O’Malley ally–told the Baltimore Afro American in late January 2003. “Point-blank, nothing’s changed. We’re paying all of this overtime to the police. Where is the change?” O’Malley’s hunch was being called into question.

The experience of crime in Baltimore neighborhoods is as varied as the neighborhoods themselves. What feels to many like improvements under Mayor O’Malley–seemingly safer and clearly more prosperous communities around the waterfront, along the north-south axis of Charles Street, along the Northeast Baltimore thoroughfares of Belair and Harford roads, and in certain other key neighborhoods like Hampden–feels to others like it’s not happening in their neighborhoods. Because the improvements are concentrated in waterfront neighborhoods and the central north-south spine of the city, they are more evident than the sluggish expanses of the east and west sides, where change has come more slowly, if at all.

With or without dramatic crime reductions, though, the city has been rebounding in many ways, and O’Malley’s re-election in 2004 affirmed and affixed the notion that he was doing alright as mayor. Many understood that he would soon run for governor. Once he announced his candidacy for state office, O’Malley’s record as mayor became Republicans’ main message when promoting Ehrlich. They can do that because O’Malley’s hunch hasn’t worked itself out yet.

 

IF O’MALLEY WAS WRONG ABOUT CRIME being the foremost determinant of the city’s fortunes, then there’s room for forgiveness. Crime in many ways has trended downward, particularly in some parts of the city and for some types of crime. But low interest rates, not reduced bloodshed, likely had more to do with the city’s improved performance under O’Malley.

In the Blue Book, O’Malley noted that in 1999 “City houses fetch roughly one half of what they do in Baltimore County,” because of the prevalence of crime in the city. Since 1999, “thanks to reductions in crime and increased investment in the city, average home values in Baltimore have risen 120%,” according to O’Malley’s campaign web site.

Crime reductions may have helped, but the key factor was the residential real-estate market boom created by historically low interest rates and rising demand. The 2004 median sales price for a Baltimore single-family home was $130,500, compared to $215,000 in Baltimore County. Thus, instead of city houses selling for half the value of county houses, under O’Malley they began selling at about 60 percent of what county houses get. The value of city single-family homes gained slightly more than 35 percent between 2002 and 2004, an amount a tad higher than in Baltimore County.

Real-estate values and tax revenues tend to rise and fall together, and they both jumped under O’Malley, as expected during times of cheap money. In 2000, city revenues stood at about $1.4 billion. In 2004, they broke $2 billion, and stood at $2.1 billion in 2005. Increasing real-estate values helped a lot on the property-tax front, aided by new taxes instituted by O’Malley.

The level of private investment in the city, likewise, has increased substantially. Little scaffolding and few cranes were part of Baltimore’s streetscape in the 1990s, but they are common sights today. The O’Malley administration says the value of development activity under way in 2005 was estimated to be $2 billion, whereas ongoing projects in 2000 added up to a little less than $900 million.

O’Malley’s gubernatorial campaign biography states that, as mayor, he has “promoted job growth by attracting over $10 billion in economic development” and “nearly ended Baltimore’s decades-long population loss.” But jobs and population declined in the city, and unemployment rose from 5.9 percent in 2000 to 7.1 percent in 2005. Job loss from 1999 to ’04 hit Baltimore hard, taking away about 40,000 jobs–the most among Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions, as was the city’s loss of about 15,000 residents from 2000 to ’05. A 2002 U.S. Census snapshot of the city’s unemployment situation pointed out key disparities: While the overall unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, white men were at 2.1 percent and black men at 11.8 percent. The city made the top-10 list in the country for average weekly wage growth in 2005, but at the same time lost more jobs–5,800–than almost all of the 323 large cities and counties studied. While the city’s employment outlook hits some harder than others, the jobs that remain are paying better, and the loss of jobs went along with ongoing loss in population.

The jobs lost under O’Malley came on the heels of all the jobs lost before him. In the Blue Book, O’Malley painted a bleak picture of the Kurt Schmoke years, describing job declines in manufacturing, transportation, retail, banking, and hospitals. The situation hardly improved after O’Malley was elected. Between 2001 and ’04, Baltimore lost nearly 5 percent of its jobs. A quarter of its manufacturing jobs, 15 percent of its banking and finance jobs, 5 percent of its retail jobs–all disappeared in a four-year span. The drop in public employment was pronounced, especially local government jobs, which fell by nearly 4,000 positions, more than 12 percent. Only three sectors posted major job gains: hospitals, educational services, and the hotel and restaurant industry.

Under Mayor Schmoke, the city lost an average of 722 jobs per month, O’Malley calculated in the Blue Book. Between 2001 and ’04 under O’Malley, the city lost an average of 432 jobs per month. That’s a dramatic improvement, but it is still a drastic rate of job loss–especially when the surrounding counties are alive with job growth. The Blue Book pointed out that the surrounding counties posted a gain of 104,000 jobs when Schmoke was mayor, an average of 963 new jobs each month. Between 2001 and ’04, with O’Malley as mayor, the surrounding counties added nearly 63,500 new jobs, an average of 1,322 jobs per month.

Thus, while the city’s job loss has slowed under O’Malley, it has not reversed, as O’Malley predicted. And the surrounding counties’ job growth accelerated by about 40 percent. Baltimore remains the hole in the doughnut of regional employment trends.

The public schools, well, they’re still a mess, but there are bright spots. As the city’s population declines, so does school enrollment–by an average of 2,900 students per year since O’Malley became mayor, bringing the total down to about 85,000. While some of the trends in standardized test scores are good, many others are not. Graduation rates are up for seniors getting a regular education, but down dramatically for the increasing share of students in special education. The money spent to achieve these results has increased dramatically on a cost-per-student basis, and has been the target of near-permanent scandal over the school system’s financial accountability.

In the Blue Book, O’Malley reported that in 1997 only 16.6 percent of third-graders’ scores were “satisfactory” under the state reading tests. This statistic is recited again on O’Malley’s campaign web site, and updated with the claim that O’Malley “helped 61% of the third graders meet those state standards last year.” The standardized tests were changed in 2002. Under the new ones, the percent of third-graders with “proficient” reading scores has risen annually, from 38 percent in 2003 to 59 percent in ’06, when the statewide scores had risen from 50 percent to 63 percent. The same happened with third-grade math scores, with the percent of proficient third-graders rising to 52 today from 40 in 2003, when the statewide scores had jumped only four points, from 50 to 54. That’s some of the good news.

Some of the bad news is that only 2 percent of special-education high-school students passed the high-school English standardized test in 2005. That 2.1 percent passed in 2006 is nothing to brag about, since it indicates that students in the city’s large special-education program don’t have much of an education to look forward to.

As students continue in school, their improved scores in earlier grades should be reflected in improvements as they reach higher grades. In some cases, this has happened, but not in others. The third-grade class of 2004, for instance, was tested again as fifth-graders this year, when its proficiency in math and reading both were significantly higher than those of prior fifth-grade classes. But the sixth-grade class of 2004, which was entering first grade when O’Malley was elected mayor, is another story. When the class reached eighth-grade this year, its share of students scoring proficiently dropped in both math and reading compared to its sixth-grade scores.

O’Malley’s Blue Book measured city schools’ graduation rates harshly, saying that “only 25 percent of ninth graders . . . ever graduate. This is unacceptable.” The percent of regular-education 12th-graders graduating is rising, from 58 percent in 2002 to 64 percent today. But the drop in the share of special-education 12th-graders graduating went from 65 percent in 2002 to 35 percent today.

When running for mayor, O’Malley’s intentions about special education were clear: He wanted significant improvements, and a reduction in the size of the program. He said that, at the time, 18 percent of the student population was enrolled in special education, and he wanted that number to drop to 13. By 2000, it had dropped to 17 percent, which is where it remained in 2005. Meanwhile, by O’Malley’s figures from his first mayoral campaign, the cost of educating each special-education student per year was $9,680. Since then, it has increased by a fifth, and stands at $11,722 per student.

In his governor’s campaign biography, O’Malley expresses pride in city schools, claiming that “for the past three years, elementary school students have posted higher scores in reading, language arts, and mathematics at every grade level.” That’s an accomplishment that would make any mayor proud. But O’Malley, by law, does not control the city school system. As mayor, he is an equal partner with the state in its success or failure–an equal partner with the government headed by his gubernatorial opponent, Robert Ehrlich. “Our children should not suffer due to adult disagreements,” O’Malley wrote in the Blue Book. “In the future, Baltimore should, once again, take greater responsibility for our school system. But we also must build continually on the partnership we have established with Annapolis–it is in the best interest of our children.”

The city-state partnership has suffered from scandal after scandal arising from lack of accountability in recent years, leaving the city school system in such a shambles that it is surprising some children are able to learn adequately. Neither the city nor the state has stepped up to take unilateral responsibility, though their collective responsibility is there for all to see. O’Malley takes credit for the good where he can–with some improved test scores in some grades–and, either as governor or as mayor, may be in a position to do more for at least a couple more years. But he’ll also have to live with the bad, until the system gets fixed.

 

BALTIMORE UNDER O’MALLEY IS A MIXED BAG OF RESULTS, and it’s hard to say changes in the crime rate made it so. By the raw numbers, though, Baltimore is safer now than when O’Malley started. In the first six months of 2000, when he was working off his obligation to clear the 10 corners, the city logged 141 murders, 161 rapes, 3,010 robberies, and 4,530 aggravated assaults, including 700 nonfatal shootings. In 2005, the totals from January to June were much rosier. Murder was down 3 percent, rape had dropped by more than half, robbery saw a 40 percent reduction, and aggravated assaults were reduced nearly a quarter, including a near 30 percent drop in shootings. The same number of under-18-year-olds–47–were murdered in 2002 as were in 1996, but in the first 10 months of this year 22 kids were killed, and all of last year saw only 14 juvenile homicides, so the situation appears to be getting less bloody for Baltimore’s teens.

Yet, despite these numbers and O’Malley’s optimism and declarations of success, frustrations and distrust about the prevalence of crime abound. Some of O’Malley’s crime numbers remain under the pall of a state effort to audit his numbers this year, an effort that the mayor rebuffed. And O’Malley’s earlier use of an audit of the 1999 figures to establish the baseline for his claims of crime reduction has been called into question.

O’Malley’s handpicked benchmarks in the Green Book set a high bar, and, although he didn’t meet many of them, they often moved in the direction he promised. His Green Book said public-safety improvements in the first two years of the O’Malley administration, for instance, should reflect New York’s as it first adopted quality-of-life policing under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in the mid-1990s. When Giuliani was first starting out, murder went down 40 percent, robbery 30 percent, burglary a quarter, and rape by 8 percent, according to the Green Book’s figures.

By three of these measures, O’Malley fell short. His first two years saw nearly a fifth fewer murders and burglaries, and a quarter fewer robberies–all smaller drops than what Giuliani delivered. (Given the doubts about the Baltimore’s 1999 crime numbers, 1998 was used as the base year for this analysis, giving O’Malley three years to accomplish what Giuliani did in two.) But on the fourth category, rape, O’Malley achieved a reduction of about 40 percent, more than five times larger than New York’s. Rape later became a category of crime suspected in 2003 of being under-reported by Baltimore police, and, after an audit, a 15 percent upward correction in the 2002 numbers was ordered.

O’Malley’s second-guessed crime numbers have historical poignancy. When he was a councilman, O’Malley made a name for himself by proving that then-Mayor Schmoke’s police department was cooking its books to augment its mid-1990s crime-reduction claims. Today’s data-accuracy doubts suggest that perhaps O’Malley’s police department somehow has been aping the bad behavior of Schmoke’s department, though hard evidence of this has yet to arrive. Pending future findings, which themselves may end up subject to charges of inaccuracy, the numbers O’Malley’s police department reported to the FBI are the best available data about Baltimore crime.

The raw numbers about crime reduction that O’Malley likes to cite, though, tend not to take into account the decline in the city’s population. Do so, and Baltimore’s murder rate goes from 40.3 murders for every 100,000 residents in 2000 to 42 in 2005. Thus, it makes sense that many people believe Baltimore remains as murderous as it was before O’Malley became mayor–because Baltimore was, in fact, a bit more murderous, per capita, in 2005 than it was in 2000.

O’Malley pledged in the Green Book to make Baltimore a lot less murderous, by taking the toll down to 175 homicides in 2002. This bold goal helped him get elected 1999, when there were 305 murders. But when 2002 closed out, there were 78 more homicides than he’d promised. Boston, a city of a little less than 600,000 people, and one which the Green Book points to as a model for Baltimore to follow, had 60 murders that year, by way of comparison.

Baltimore’s crime rates look bad when compared to other large U.S. cities, and the numbers hardly improved from 2000 to 2005. After five years of O’Malley, there were 17.6 violent crimes for every 1,000 Baltimore residents in 2005, nearly 80 percent more than the big-city average. In 2000, as in 2005, the city’s murder rate was nearly three times higher than the average for cities of between a half-million and a million people. Robberies in 2000 were 2.6 times more common in Baltimore than in other large cities, and aggravated assaults (including shootings) were 2.2 times more prevalent. Five years into the O’Malley administration, the violence had fallen off, but still occurred at nearly double the rates in other large cities.

In With Change There Is Hope, O’Malley observed that “Baltimore is today the fourth deadliest city in the nation, and the city’s murder rate is seven times higher than in the average city.” Time hasn’t changed much in that regard. In 2005, Baltimore’s murder rate was still seven times the average for U.S. cities. In the 2005 Detroit mayoral race, the fact that only Baltimore had a higher murder rate than Detroit was put in play on the campaign trail. This year, in a ranking against 31 other cities with populations over a half-million, Baltimore was second most dangerous, with Detroit earning the top dishonor.

Where violence is concentrated is where the greatest crime reductions are possible. Traditionally in contemporary Baltimore, the brunt of the violence has disproportionately fallen on the Eastern and Western police districts, compared to the other seven districts. After a period of increasing violence in O’Malley’s first term, it is here, in the Eastern and Western districts, where crime numbers show improvements–fulfilling some of the expectations O’Malley created.

From 1999 to ’02, the share of the citywide homicides happening in the Eastern and Western districts rose from nearly 30 percent to more than 40 percent. Murders were dropping in the city (from 305 in 1999 to 253 in 2002), yet these two districts were showing substantial increases in their body count. That’s now changed. In 2005, the Eastern and Western’s combined tally had dropped 30 percent from 2002′s level, while the rest of the city’s homicides had jumped up a quarter. The burden is shared now by four other districts–the Southern, Southwestern, Northern, and Southeastern–joining the Western with more murders in 2005 than they’d had in 1999.

The recent geographical shift in Baltimore homicides suggests O’Malley in some ways is starting to mirror Giuliani’s 1990s crime-fighting success in New York. In 1999, just before O’Malley declared for mayor, theNew Republic ran a cover story on Giuliani that examined an important trend in the Big Apple’s crime reduction: The sharpest crime drops were seen in the area’s that needed them the most. Harlem’s crime fell 61 percent between 1994 and ’98, for example, and East New York’s murders went from 110 in 1993 to 37 in ’98. Similarly, in Baltimore, the Eastern and Western police districts have recently shown substantial improvements, although several other districts have experienced increases in crime.

Overall, though, the picture on the crime front is pretty bleak compared to O’Malley’s expectations and how it compares to the rest of urban America. “With public will, energy and political leadership,” O’Malley wrote in the Blue Book in 1999, “Baltimore will join the ranks of America’s great rejuvenated cities that are growing safer, larger, and more diverse . . . That is my pledge.” Now it’s seven years later, and Baltimore continues to earn its title as one of the most violent cities in America.

 

UNLIKE HIS CRIME FIGURES, O’Malley’s budget figures aren’t a matter for debate. In the Green Book, O’Malley indicated that the added cost of his crime plan was, well, nothing, or not much more. “The real solution in Baltimore is not to double size of the broken system,” he wrote about the police department, “but to implement the simple procedural reforms that will make greater use of the substantial resources already in place.” And in the 1999 phone interview, he said crime reductions under his watch would cover the reform costs, explaining that he planned to “increase city revenues by making this city a dramatically safer place quickly, and thereby reversing our loss of population.” He predicted that crime reduction would pay for everything, and then he pulled a George Bush I, promising that “I am dead-set opposed to raising taxes.”

The upshot from the police budget trends is this: a growing proportion of cops at desks, costing a larger amount of money. The department’s budget went up 25 percent from 2002 to ’07, the current fiscal year. Two parts of the departmental budget went up more than 100 percent: Administrative Direction and Control jumped from to $15.5 million to $32 million, while money for the Office of Criminal Justice Policy more than tripled, from $3.5 million to $12 million. Together, the administrative and policy slices of the police pie grew from 7 to 13 percent, while all other parts of the department saw their slices shrink. Though the overall budget went up, department-wide staffing levels dropped by nearly 5 percent from 2002 to today. Administrative staffing jumped nearly 8 percent–the only kind of police staffing that grew. Yet O’Malley’s campaign web site states that he “put more cops on the streets as part of a comprehensive plan to reduce crime.”

The five-year growth of the police budget wasn’t paid for with revenue resulting from an increased city population, as O’Malley had predicted. Population continued to fall, though more slowly. Rather, money was available to expand the police budget because of rising real-estate values and the mayor’s new taxes on energy, cell phones, and real-estate transactions, O’Malley’s prior no-new-taxes pledge notwithstanding. Because of the additional revenues, he was able to keep some promises.

O’Malley vowed in the Green Book to increase funding for the State’s Attorney’s Office “as long as it stays committed to the path of reform, and committed to keeping repeat violent offenders off the street.” The city’s contribution to State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy’s office has been boosted from $21.6 million in 2002 to $30.4 million today, a more than 40 percent raise that has allowed staffing levels for prosecutions to increase by 55 positions.

The mayor has been true to drug treatment, too. “Since 1996, annual funding for drug treatment in Baltimore has doubled from $16.5 million to $33 million,” O’Malley wrote in the Green Book, indicating this is a positive trend he’d like to continue. And he has. Drug treatment funding under O’Malley increased to $53 million in 2005.

Teen motherhood and other health indicators affect crime trends over the long term, and O’Malley aimed to oversee their decline. He pointed out that in 1997 “nearly 10 percent” of city girls aged 15 to 19 had babies. There was a steep decline after O’Malley took office, and in 2004 the proportion of girls that age who had babies was 6.8 percent. He wanted infant mortality to decline, reporting that the city in 1997 lost newborns at a rate of 14.4 babies per 1,000 live births, “nearly double the state’s rate,” he wrote. It dropped significantly. In 2005, the infant mortality rate had declined to 11.3, half again as high as the state’s.

O’Malley pointed out in the Green Book–as Jay Leno was saying, too, on The Tonight Show at the time–that Baltimore is “the syphilis capital of the United States.” As O’Malley wrote those words, the syphilis rate was in steep decline. In 1999, Indianapolis became the syphilis capital, after Baltimore’s rate had dropped 45 percent in one year. In 2002, Baltimore was ranked 11th among U.S. cities, with an incidence rate of 18.6 cases per 100,000 people. That year, 120 cases were reported. But the disease jumped sharply in 2004, when 209 cases were reported for a rate of 33.2, placing Baltimore third in the nation, behind San Francisco and Atlanta.

Two other sexually transmissible diseases were mentioned in O’Malley’s book, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Baltimore “is rated number two in the U.S. for active cases of gonorrhea,” he wrote at the time. It has dropped significantly since then, but Baltimore was still the fourth-highest city on the list for active cases of gonorrhea in 2004, the most recent ranking available. When O’Malley sought to become mayor, he explained that Baltimore’s national rank was “third for active cases of chlamydia.” The city’s chlamydia rate has actually risen significantly since then, yet its national ranking dropped to seventh highest–an improvement, of sorts.

O’Malley recently summed up his disease-fighting record much more succinctly, and no less truthfully: “Syphillis [sic] is down 75% since 1997 and Gonorrhea is down 45% since 1995.” These surgically selected statistics are posted, along with the rest of O’Malley’s Oct. 5 Hopkins speech, on his campaign web site (www.martinomalley.com).

Baltimore’s improved status on drug-related emergency-room visits, an important indicator of drug abuse, is impressive, but still marginal in the national context. In 1999, O’Malley wrote that Baltimore is “rated number one in the nation for hospital emergency room admissions involving substance abuse.” In 2005, it was tied with New York and Boston for third in the nation.

 

BUT O’MALLEY FAILED ON SOME IMPORTANT OTHER PROMISES, such as the one about reducing the need to arrest people. The Green Book was adamant about giving police expanded power to issue civil citations for minor crimes, which was expected to free the courts of petty cases. “Through the use of citations–which make fewer arrests necessary–and courthouse reforms that keep innocent people and minor criminals from languishing in jail for weeks before trial,” O’Malley predicted that “fewer people may actually be locked up using quality-of-life policing strategies.” At the very least, he promised that “quality-of-life policing does not mean arresting and locking up our city’s young men indiscriminately.”

Under Schmoke, there had been 70,000 arrests in 1997 and 85,000 in 1998. After several years of quality-of-life police work, in 2004 O’Malley’s expanded civil-citation powers were put in place. In 2005, city police logged around 100,000 arrests. In 2006, the city was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who raised charges of widespread indiscriminate arrests. So much for the less-arrests theory of zero-tolerance policing.

O’Malley’s record on police corruption and misconduct has a level of intrigue appropriate to the cloak-and-dagger milieu of internal investigations. His campaign pledges on the issue were zealous. “We know,” he wrote in the Green Book, “that when the police are encouraged to be more assertive, government must become more assertive and open in its policing of the police.” He’d been complaining about police corruption and misconduct under Schmoke’s commissioners for years, and yet “our problem has only gotten worse,” he insisted, adding that “There is nothing more harmful to effective law enforcement, and more devastating to the morale of law-abiding citizens and law enforcement officers, than police misconduct.”

To fight it, O’Malley pledged in the Green Book to “open the Police Department’s internal investigation process, to assure the public that police problems are not being swept under the rug by colleagues’ complicity.”

Immediately after gaining City Hall, O’Malley asked outside consultants to look at the department’s problems. Among their tasks was a survey of police personnel about street-level corruption, which showed that 23 percent of the department believed that more than a quarter of its officers were “involved in stealing money or drugs from drug dealers.” The survey put numbers on the idea that the Baltimore police had a corruption problem.

And yet nothing much happened. Not for years. There were two corruption arrests that didn’t pan out. The case against officer Brian Sewell, suspected in 2000 of planting drugs on an innocent suspect, became suspicious when police evidence against him disappeared during a break-in at internal investigators’ offices, and the charges were dropped by prosecutors in 2001. Officer Jacqueline Folio, accused of a false drug arrest, was found not guilty in a 2003 criminal trial, and the department’s administrative case against her was so full of exculpatory evidence and apparent attempts at cover-ups that she was cleared entirely–and settled her own lawsuit against the city over the whole, career-ending episode. At the end of 2003, police said they had conducted 202 “random integrity tests” to catch bad cops since 2000, yet the only cops nabbed were Sewell and Folio.

The quiet continued. In early January of this year, The Washington Post reported that O’Malley had been booed at a legislative hearing over his department’s high volume of arrests, and that the mayor countered that aggressive arrests would be reflected in increased misconduct complaints, which were down. He was soon to lose the use of that argument at hearings, for 2006 quickly became a memorable year in the annals of Baltimore police misbehavior.

Two days after the legislative hearing, on Jan. 6, a city grand jury charged three officers with rape, unearthing evidence that their undercover squad was corrupt in other ways as well. In April, a federal jury convicted two Baltimore police detectives for robbing drug dealers, a city grand jury charged an officer with stealing rims off a car belonging to an arrested citizen, and an officer caught a gambling conviction. In July, two officers were charged in Baltimore County in separate crimes–fraud and theft in one case, and burglary and stalking in the other. And in August, a Baltimore officer was charged with identity theft in Pennsylvania.

As a councilman and mayoral candidate, O’Malley was passionate about the idea that the police department needed a housecleaning. Police officers “after all are only human,” he said in the 1999 phone interview, so they must be policed “to insure that temptation, unchecked anger, and prejudice do not tarnish the moral authority necessary for a police department to effectively perform its job.” After five years of relative quiet punctuated by weak corruption cases under O’Malley, what he predicted in 1999–”well publicized arrests of clusters of officers who are lured away by the easy money and lucrative money of the drug trade,” as he put it in a 1999 phone interview–is finally coming true.

 

THE GREEN BOOK SET DOWN AN ANECDOTE ABOUT SCHMOKE’S police commissioner Thomas Frazier coming before the City Council in September 1996, on the heels of councilman O’Malley’s return from New York to study its policing strategies. “You don’t have to tell me about zero tolerance. I know what they do in New York,” Frazier was quoted as saying. “They’re doing the same thing I started doing here with Greenmount Avenue–close down the open-air drug markets, drive them indoors, and you reduce the violence. . . . I have to be a team player. When we start closing down the open-air drug markets, the judges complain that we’re crowding their courts and the Mayor makes me back off. . . . Tell the judges. I’m only one piece of this criminal justice system.”

And so is Mayor O’Malley only one piece of the city’s public-safety complex, though you’d never know that from reading the Green Book. To get elected, he made it seem like he was a one-man crime-fighting machine, that all he had to do was hire a police commissioner to deploy known policing strategies proven successful in other cities, and it would all fall in place–an instant urban revival. It’s doubtful any mayor could have met the expectations O’Malley set for himself, much less one who hasn’t gone through four police commissioners and three interim commissioners the way O’Malley has. Still, he scored points for seeming to try and for being in power when interest rates dropped. This Nov. 7, the state’s voters will decide whether he tried hard enough. Either way, he still owes.