27 October 2012

Domestic Dispute Leaves Man Dead

UPDATE: While this story was being completed, the female subject involved telephoned the Baltimore Spectator and in an exclusive interview shared many details.

A.F. James MacArthur shared new details of this story in a live podcast Click here to be taken to the podcast page.

Story & photos by A.F. James MacArthur

A man was fatally stabbed in a domestic dispute that took place on the 700 block of N. Rose St. Saturday morning. The incident first reported on Twitter by the Baltimore Spectator at 9:05 a.m. just moments after it happened. It would be many hours later before the incident received any mention by other media.

It was also not reported by Baltimore Police on twitter, despite their pledge to report all significant crime incidents via the social media outlet.

Through sources close to the situation, the Baltimore Spectator has learned exclusive details not revealed elsewhere.

Police investigate murder scene at Orleans & N. Rose St. 
Infrared Night Vision image. File photo, A.F. James MacArthur

The deceased man, 40 year old Shawn Brown, attacked and assaulted a 25 year old woman who resides nearby. In what is being called an attempted abduction, witnesses say the man tried to force the woman into a car when a struggle ensued. At some point, the man is said to have struck the female several times in the face with a brick. The female defended herself, by producing a knife and stabbing her attacker repeatedly.

Brown was transported to a local hospital in critical condition and was pronounced dead a short time afterward.

The Baltimore Spectator has learned the name of the woman alleged to have done the stabbing, but is withholding publication due to the possibility of her being a victim of domestic violence.

Police initially detained the woman, but as of this writing, sources say she was released without being charged, with the incident possibly being treated as a justifiable homicide related to self defense.

Brown and the woman were involved in a relationship in the past, and have a 5 year old daughter together. It is not clear whether they were still actively engaged in a relationship at the time of the incident. The case bares a strong resemblance to another recent domestic incident in which a 4 year old boy and his mother was shot by the boys father.

Friday night, Brown  forced his way into the woman's house at gunpoint in an incident that apparently did not result in physical injury. It was not clear if charges were filed or an arrest was made at the time.

Balloons on a pole memorialize a previous slaying at the same location of the stabbing.

N. Rose St. and the surrounding neighborhood is no stranger to homicide and violence. Residents weary of an area long besieged by drugs and gang activity could readily recall a long list of incidents that haven taken place.

The Baltimore Spectator has reported on multiple homicides in the immediate vicinity in the past, including a man shot while riding a bicycle, in what was considered to be a gang related incident, in the 700 block of N. Rose St.

Details of this breaking news story will be updated as new information becomes available and is subject to change.

Violence Worse Than The Wire

On Wednesday while speaking to a community group, newly confirmed Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts stated he did not like the HBO television series "The Wire." Since then, over a dozen people have been shot or stabbed in Baltimore, including two teenagers and a woman shot in a quadruple drive-by shooting last night, and an active duty U.S. Navy serviceman murdered while visiting family in Baltimore.

Alonzo Gladden, age 24, a member of the United States Navy, was shot and killed in front of his grandmother's house a little over an hour after Batts made the statement expressing disdain for the television show.

Early Saturday, an 18-year-old man was walking on the 300 block of Edmondson Avenue at 12:48 a.m., when police say he was approached by an unknown gunman who shot him in the shoulder before fleeing the are on foot.


Researcher, independent investigative journalist, and entrepreneur, A.F. James MacArthur has been a member of the underground news network for over 20 years. Skilled in multiple media disciplines, MacArthur is Baltimore's premier independent crime correspondent. During this time, he's been a frequent subject of attack by government officials under the guise of law enforcement. Although closely watched and followed, he's often boycotted from being given any credit for his work by mainstream media.

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FRIDAY NIGHT FRIGHT! -- Four Shot In Drive-By Shooting

Story, photographs, audio & video by A.F. James MacArthur

A drive-by shooting Friday night left four people wounded, including a woman with critical injuries.

Baltimore police investigate drive-by shooting.
The shooting marked the second Friday night in a row involving multiple victims, shot in a short time span (see Friday Night Fusillade). It's also the second Friday in a row a female was shot, continuing an usual trend of a sharp increase in female shooting victims.

Shortly after 7 p.m., a van pulled up to the 300 block of Bloom St. (initially reported at 2100 block Druid Hill Ave.), in west Baltimore and opened fire on a group of people sitting in front a row house. Two teenagers, a man and a woman were all struck down in a hail of bullets.

The victims suffered varying levels of injury. The woman's wounds were most severe, with multiple gun shots to the torso and arm. Her injuries are considered life threatening. As of this writing she remains in critical condition.  All four victims were transported to area hospitals.

Raw video clip of shooting scene.

Yellow crime scene tape spanning several streets cut off a large portion of the Madison Park neighborhood. Investigators were seen combing an area several blocks long looking for shell casings and other evidence.

As with the majority of shootings in the city, police state there are no known motives or suspects.

The Batts Jinx And The Wire

Thursday evening  Police Commissioner Anthony Batts spoke to a midtown community group. He opened his remarks by referring to the critically acclaimed, gritty, Baltimore based TV crime drama, "The Wire." Batts said "I didn't like it. That's not the Baltimore we want people to see."

He went on to say Baltimore needs more positive press promoting what's great about the city.

A little more than an hour after Batts elucidated to the folks in midtown about the kind of Baltimore he wants people to see, across town in Westport, a young U.S. Navy officer visiting family was gunned down.

Alonzo Gladden had only been in the city a few hours before a car pulled up to the one he rode in with his brother. A gunman opened fire around 9 p.m., in front of Gladden's grandmothers house, ending his life at 24 years of age.

At 9:16 p.m. Baltimore Police reported via twitter: Confirmed Shooting-3700 blk St.Victor St-Southern District. Adult male reported shot. Besides the tweet, not much is known about the circumstance of the shooting or the current condition of the victim.

Two hours later, James Utley, 26, was found suffering from gunshot wounds in the 1400 block of E. Preston St. in front of abandoned vacant housing around 11 p.m. He was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time after.

It's notable that Wednesday saw no shootings until after Batt's denouncement of "The Wire." In total, three shootings would happen before the night was through.

A Terrible Thursday

The next day, the first shooting came early in the afternoon, in the same neighborhood as Gladden's murder the night before. That victim would also die.

Hours later Thursday evening, a man operating a taxi service was shot in 1300 block of N. Central Avenue in East Baltimore. He was transported to the hospital in critical condition. The shooting is the third in about a month, involving a taxi driver.

Frightful Friday

Most of the day passed relatively quiet until the drive-by shooting detailed here. It was the first quadruple shooting in a very long time.

In all, 10 people would be shot within 48 hours of Commissioner Batts pontification on "The Wire." Even the most violent episode of the show has not had as many people shot, over a two day period like happened in real life Baltimore.

Being from California, it should come as no surprise for Batts to make a showbiz reference when speaking to a group. After all, Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world is located there.

Perhaps Baltimore would fare far better if our new commissioner, just three weeks on the job, stuck to talking about real life, real crime and real issues and left the fiction stuff for Hollywood. He's already jinxed us once. A sequel \episode could sink his ratings.
Skilled in multiple media disciplines, A.F. James MacArthur is Baltimore's premier independent crime correspondent. He may be reached at 410-205-NEWS (6397) voice or text message, MacArthurMedia@gmail.com, and followed on numerous social media, including: @BaltoSpectator on twitter , Spreaker web radioBlogTalk RadioBaltimore Spectator on Facebook,YouTube channel

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26 October 2012

FADED HOPE: How Obama Is Losing Voters

By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.

Barack ObamaPresident Obama currently trails Mitt Romney in virtually every poll. A few polls show the president near tied with the Republican challenger, but where he's ahead, it's only by a few points.

For die hard Democrats, the current state of reality is an utter shock to the senses. With the election less than two weeks away, and early voting already started, few will admit it, but Obama supporters are starting to worry. The mere thought of the great anointed one possibly losing his re-election bid, is likely to cause those with weak hearts to cash in Obamacare chips and run out to see their doctors.

The public persona of the typical Obama supporter exudes immense pride, confidence and determination. Ask them who's going to win, and with the beaming pride like a school child who was just awarded a gold star, they'll jubilantly exclaim to you, "Obama of course!" You would have to get one alone in private to see beyond the puffed up false bravado, which though appearing genuine, like gold plating on cheap steel, its presence is only on the surface, but underneath lies something else entirely.
"I'm not going to vote for someone just because his skin is the same color as mine." 
The truth is, after the president lost the first debate via knockout punch from Mitt Romney, Barack Obama's once commanding lead has slowly eroded away. Although Obama fared considerably better in the subsequent debates, for many Americans, likely voters, particularly the undecided, it was too late. Like the economy, despite appearances, there was no true recovery.

One line zingers and condescending attitudes only go so far once people have already seen you naked. It's true, the emperor has no clothes. Romney smacked Obama so hard during the first debate, he was exposed for what he really is to the American people. Like 23 million Americans, the whole "Hope and Change" thing is no longer working.

Certainly Americans desire to see hope and change, but after four years of the reality that has become life in these United States, many still seek change, and truly hope they'll see it one day. In their hearts, they know they still haven't found what they're looking for.

What many of them have concluded is really quite simple; if a president can truly deliver these things, and it's questionable if any president really can, this president is not the one who will. As such, a growing number of one time supporters of President Obama, are likely to not give him another chance.


"I really don't know what to do right now. I've never been in this position before." Melissa (not her real name), struggled to hold back tears as she sat in my office sharing how her lights had been turned off just hours before our meeting. She's been unable to pay the bill. "I'm probably going to have to get a second job, maybe even give up the house." For a young single mom, these were not promising possibilities.

A college graduate and former state government employee, Melissa recently had to drop out of a masters program after losing her job as a result of budget cutbacks. Four years ago, she was proud to cast her ballot, for who she knew for sure would be America's first Black president. Fast "forward" four years later, she's lost a lot of that excitement.

After what seemed like a lifetime of searching for work, sending out countless resumes, filling out endless applications, a certain level of desperation and despair begun to set in. She told me things had gotten so bad before she found a part time warehouse position, she was willing to do almost anything to be able to take care of her two children.

Hers is among one of the many "new jobs" Democrats like Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley are so fond of touting as being created as a result of their policies and leadership. What's often lost from the free wheeling oratories and catchy news soundbites, is the deeper sense of what's really going on.

Many of the so called "new jobs" are a poor replacement for the ones that were lost. Fact is, the new jobs do just that for the workers, it leaves them poor. Working poor. Ever notice you rarely hear what kind of jobs are supposedly being created? Yet a raw analysis of statistics allows boastful politicians to declare they've done something great.

"I'm not going to vote for someone just because his skin is the same color as mine." Melissa made it very clear, this time around she has no intentions of voting for Barack Obama. While undecided about challenger Mitt Romney, she was certain of who she wasn't voting for. Pressed further, she stated she may not even vote at all.


This real life example of a former Obama voter, is likely a story similar story, to that of many of the votes the president has lost. You may never hear these stories via mainstream media outlets, but it's not because they don't exist. Truth is, there are many reasons these sad revelations are being suppressed from your knowing.

For a sitting president to be so closely matched in polls as Obama has been for weeks now, is clear danger sign for the president, to any astute observer of politics. At this point, an incumbent should be far ahead in every poll.

Funny how when initially Obama had a clear lead, Democrats had no problem with polling. The accuracy of representing the American people and likely voters was never questioned. Statements alluding to the meaningless measure polls represent were never heard. Suddenly once the pendulum has swung, they're now singing a different song.

Democrats would do well to embrace a certain level of intellectual honesty. To learn to differentiate the difference between desire and destiny. The thing about reality is, despite how much we may want things to be different, it's hard to pretend and talk tough, when you're sitting sad in a dark, cold house at night, thinking of how much things have changed and how hope has faded. For many Americans, the only hope they have the audacity to dream of, is that moving forward, change may come with a different man in the White House. They can only hope.
A.F. James MacArthur, a Black man for most of his life, believes the only hope of mankind is faith in God. An ordained minister, he occasionally doles out life coaching and advice, but don't tell anyone, he's busy enough as it is. He may be reached at 410-205-NEWS (6397) voice or text message, MacArthurMedia@gmail.com, and followed on numerous social media, including: @BaltoSpectator on twitter , Spreaker web radioBlogTalk RadioBaltimore Spectator on Facebook,YouTube channel

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24 October 2012

Criminal Cops And Smokescreens - An Analysis Pt. 1

By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.


A recent article in the Baltimore Sun by Justin Fenton deserves an award for being a masterpiece of misdirection. In a story that couldn't have been written any better if it were commissioned by a public relations agency for the police department, Fenton single-handedly manages to draw attention away from very serious criminal transgressions alleged to have been committed by members of the Baltimore Police Department.

Less than a week ago, two Baltimore Police Department officers, including a sergeant, were criminally charged by the Baltimore City States Attorney. In the short time since charges were issued, the transgressions have been all but blotted out off the public consciousness.  This is a department that is constantly under fire, having numerous investigations of wrong doing underway at any given time. For responsible media to bury this story is a grave crime upon the citizens of this city unto itself.

How many people remember it's been a month since Anthony Anderson died in police custody? His death was ruled homicide, yet there hasn't been a single charge against any involved officers. Are the powers that be just hoping to lay low and sit this one out till the public has forgotten and moved on to other topics?

Former residence of Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld
Of course, the strategic issue of charges against the previously mentioned two officers, by State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein,  late in the evening on a Thursday raises many questions. Could this be a potential concerted strategy of damage control? Never mind it took nearly a full year to the date, after the officers were to have committed the offenses, for them to even be charged. Is this an attempt by Bernstein to shield his close personal friend, and one time campaigner, former Police Commissioner Bealefeld from having yet another embarrassing mark on his scandal ridden tenure as chief? We may never know, because your media isn't asking these questions.


There were no statements of concern or outrage from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. City Council President Jack Young, a wannabe peoples champion, uttered not a single word. Even freshman city councilman Brandon Scott, Vice Chair of the Public Safety Committee, fell strangely silent when these two officers were charged with serious criminal misconduct. Yet we see these same city legislators and a whole cast of characters falling for a slight-of -hand parlor trick that would impress Harry Houdini.

The article regarding "Special Police" in Baltimore City and the State of Maryland has created a lot of commotion. It has garnered more attention over perceived abuse, than the mortally serious, actual incident of a police custody homicide.

Within 24 hours of it's publication, the piece garnered attention of numerous state and city legislators, and other local media. Justin Fenton even found himself as a guest on the popular afternoon news radio program, Maryland News Now, heard on WBAL.

These same legislators have said nothing of the shameful, regrettable, questionable death of Mr. Anderson, who was killed in front of his family no less. We also know Baltimore Police claimed in their report, Anderson's death was caused by choking on drugs he  ingested. A false claim soundly refuted by the medical examiner. Did someone say attempted cover up?

Suddenly with the article on Special Police, there's great concern about "renegades" running around the city, "jacking people up" pretending to be police. To be sure, the carefully crafted, exceedingly long scroll, certainly painted a scary picture. But was the article and it's assertions accurate?

It draws no comparison to the notoriously besmeared reputation of the Baltimore Police Department and it's many documented abuses. Instead, the story leads the reader to believe the handful of  Special Police Officers (SPO) are a part of some huge problem, which in reality is virtually non existent and little more than a concoction of an over active imagination.

What follows is a fact check on the article published Sunday, entitled: State, city program gives security guards police powers, written by Justin Fenton. The reader is forewarned, this is a lengthy piece. The original article is quite exhaustive, and as such, a thorough fact check will be proportionately commensurate.

The very title is deceptive on its face. "Security guards" do not have police powers. If an officer has "police powers" then he is not a "security guard." He or she would be  properly categorized under law as a "Special Police Officer."


A careful inspection of the article reveals its entire assertion is based on just a few of isolated incidents.  They're hardly indicative of a larger problem. The reader is drawn into a subterfuge of seeming rampant abuse by SPO's.

Fenton opens with a troublesome tale of one Christopher Dukes, who by all accounts was a victim of overzealous police wanna-be's.

In truth, much of the article continues to refer to Mr. Dukes and a few other incidents in a revolving manner, falsely giving the impression of problems being larger than they are in reality. This repetitive technique is a common journalism practice when a writer is attempting to strongly persuade, but lacking adequate factual foundation.


Fenton writes "some of the officers have also faced lawsuits and resident complaints, leading city police to re-evaluate whether to continue the program." But this is not unique to Special Police. Police departments are sued and receive citizen complaints all the time. What Fenton failed to point out is, in most cases of abuse of power or misconduct, the courts and the law allow little provision for a citizen with a grievance to pursue an individual police officer working for the city.

Special Police on the other hand, while having authority to exercise some police powers, have no special legal protection under the law, unlike their "real police" counterparts. The individual officers can have criminal charges taken out against them like any other citizen. They can be sued in civil court, unlike police officers working for the city.

Police officers in Baltimore have a powerful union shielding them from all sorts of flak from a citizen who feels they've been wronged. A city cop can even shoot and kill a citizen and not have to give a statement for several days due to protections the union has carved out. Special Police have no such immunity.

Many would be surprised to know there's an actual "Officers Bill of Rights" for police officers, which numerous critics claim is nearly akin to a decree placing officers above the law.

The entire story written by Fenton is built on two lawsuits; one from residents of Cherry Hill, and another vaguely referenced suit originating somewhere in Northeast Baltimore. Fenton fails to provide any specifics on the latter.


Numerous security professionals with law enforcement backgrounds are quoted and referenced. The article asserts worries about "police powers being given to people without proper training and supervision." Naturally the assumption is, these experienced lawmen are concerned for public safety. Or are they?

Does anyone really believe John's Hopkins, the largest employer of SPO's in the city is just tossing out a bunch of cowboys on the streets with guns, badges and no training? Of course, not one single complaint was cited against them in the article.

The problems appears to exist with a couple of now mostly defunct security operations, and is no longer much of an issue, but you would have to read many paragraphs in before you learn this.

It should be noted, the security business is highly competitive and to be able to corner a market with a government created, legislation-enforced monopoly, from easily swayed politicians is the ultimate dream for eager business owners in a regulated industry. The question is never even raised that these "concerns" could simply be an attempt by owners of some of these businesses to rub out competition under the guise of concern for the public good.


At times Fenton seems to have glaring contradictions throughout, with sufficient space in between that they appear invisible to the untrained eye. Larry S. Davidson Sr., a retired Baltimore officer who runs a security company is quoted as saying "Nobody is overseeing them." This is actually not true and is largely a play on semantics.

Further in the story there's a different quote that says "state police are automatically notified when a special police officer or security guard is arrested and can send an auditor out to review complaints..." This line doesn't exactly fit in with the "no oversight" refrain, repetitively blurted by many with competing business interests used as sources for the article.

In another section, the author writes the Baltimore Police Department has concerns of "attempts by some to impersonate special police officers with counterfeit badges or confusing uniforms and vehicles," and that this is a reason they're considering discontinuing issuing the licenses. While it should seem obvious, these are already outright criminal offenses with plenty of laws on the books concerning them. Simple enforcement of the law on a case by case basis, would deal with the issue with no need to discontinue an entire program, of issuing licenses for what is in truth, a notably minuscule rate of incidence.

Considering how many former police officers own security companies, could these former officers be using their contacts and connections within the police department to lobby for making things harder for their competitors? Special police have to be paid more, and if they're no longer permitted, owners of security companies would be able to lock in their current security staff at lower wages. The possibility of moving up to a higher level would be eliminated if the licensing were no longer granted.

It's notable the article mentions the Maryland State Police has no intentions of reconsidering issuing the licenses. The reader should ask why? Could it be this elite law enforcement agency has seen no evidence of sufficient abuse warranting any drastic action?


Sometimes people with agendas conceal their true intentions.
You would have to read over 400 words into the story before Fenton tells you "Special police officers work for a wide variety of organizations, including the Johns Hopkins University and the District Court of Maryland. They stand watch over shopping centers and apartment complexes, rarely getting into anything controversial." This causes great confusion to this writer. If this is the case, then why the 3000-plus word persuasive piece, contending the presence of Special Police is some big problem?

Cleverly placed at a point past where most readers are able to maintain peak attention, the author decides to tell you that SPO's aren't all that bad, and actually serve a useful purpose in a city filled with crime and an overworked police department:

"The special police and security guards working in the city help cover areas where city police cannot be, and their observations can provide useful intelligence. In addition to arrest powers, special police officers can have people committed to mental institutions and take other actions reserved for police, including searching people. They can carry guns, but only if they have the same permits required for other residents."

A convenient fact is omitted here. Gun carry permits are extremely difficult to obtain in Maryland and are handed out in very small numbers. Furthermore, certified training by a qualified, licensed gun instructor is among the requirements. This is what Fenton considers "no training required."

In the interest of consideration to the reader, due to length, the remainder of the original Baltimore Sun article will be parsed and analyzed in a second part to be published tomorrow.

A.F. James MacArthur, while never a municipal "police officer", has formerly been issued limited power of arrest & was employed, mostly on a contractual basis, by a variety of private, corporate, municipal and federal entities in a law enforcement and investigative capacity. He may be reached at 410-205-NEWS (6397) voice or text message, MacArthurMedia@gmail.com, and followed on numerous social media, including: @BaltoSpectator on twitter , Spreaker web radioBlogTalk RadioBaltimore Spectator on Facebook,YouTube channel

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BREAKING: Woman Shot On N. Monroe St.

By A.F. James MacArthur

A 55 year old woman was shot at the 1600 block of N. Monroe St. around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday. The woman was transported to a local emergency room with unspecified injuries. Her condition was unknown.

At 12:06 a.m. Baltimore Police stated via twitter detectives were investigating the incident. No known motive or suspect mentioned at this time.

The shooting is the latest female victim in what has been a sharp spike in women being shot recently. Female victims normally represent a small percentage of shootings in Baltimore, but the past several weeks have been averaging nearly two females shot per week, with several dying as a result of their injuries.


Tuesday night also saw a police involved shooting. These incidents also appear to be on the rise. That shooting took place on 3000 block of Spaulding Ave., near Pimlico Race Track, home of the world famous Preakness Stakes. An area that is no stranger to violence.

Video by Justin Fenton, Baltimore Sun

A dead body was once discovered laying on a front porch on race day. In another incident occurring in the area at the same time as the horse race, a man was once kidnapped and forced to withdraw cash from an ATM machine.

Baltimore Police Detective Anthony Fata, currently facing criminal charges of perjury, was once captured on video during the Preakness, brutally beating a man who was being arrested on minor charges. That particular incident was viewed by many in the community, as another example on a long list of excessive force and police misconduct by the Baltimore Police Department.

A.F. James MacArthur may be reached at 410-205-NEWS (6397) voice or text message, MacArthurMedia@gmail.com, and followed on numerous social media, including: @BaltoSpectator on twitter , Spreaker web radioBlogTalk RadioBaltimore Spectator on Facebook,YouTube channel

18 October 2012

Real Talk Radio With James MacArthur Live At 7 p.m

Listen live and call in to Real Talk Radio With James MacArthur
Tonight 7 p.m. 
Studio Call number (347) 215-6958

16 October 2012

PORNOGRAPHY FOR POLITICOS: Are The Debates Still Relevant?

Listen live and call in to a special presentation, hosted by A.F. James MacArthur

Tonight 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Studio Call number (347) 215-6958

Will the debates change your decided vote? Do you expect to learn anything new by watching them? Join James MacArthur and discussion on the presidential debates, and the state of voting and the elections in general in this modern internet age.
Special guests include: former Press Secretary for the Governor of Maryland, Shaun Adamec. Political operative and Independent Examiner columnist Hassan Giordano. Outspoken pundit and former candidate for office Catalina Byrd.  Baltimore social media commentator Paul M. Gardner.
Your phone calls are welcomed.

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15 October 2012

UNSHACKLED: Insiders Let Loose On The Baltimore Police Department

By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.

The Baltimore Police Department (BPD), works hard to present an image to the public that is a far cry from reality on the inside. Over a series of candid conversations with the Baltimore Spectator, several veteran me
Baltimore Police Department
mbers, all commanders with multiple decades on the job, unleashed a fury of criticism, for what they view as a department deeply entrenched in ongoing scandals, and rife with gross incompetence, being hobbled by ineffective leadership and lack of vision at the top.

"If I lived in the city, I wouldn't call the police."

Lowered Standards

It is believed the department now seems desperate in its recruiting tactic. Driven to generate numbers, they feel that many officers coming out of the police academy are of a lower caliber of professionalism than in the past.

A commander remarked he felt a lot of new officers being brought in are largely lacking in common sense, and seem unfit for the job, with a certain level of intelligence and critical reasoning once sought in prospective officers, absent. Heavy frustration was expressed that within a year or two "all of the good ones leave, and what we're usually left with are the ones no one really wants."

Baltimore County Police Department
The uniform many city officers eventually wear.
Two of the commanders sarcastically remarked how terrifying it is that some of the officers are issued guns, saying it's a scary thing to see them with guns drawn, and even more frightening to see them actually shoot (at the target range). It was said a large percentage of current active personnel barely qualify at the minimum standards of required accuracy and proficiency with firearms on the range.

"If I lived in the city, I wouldn't call the police," said one commander to the Baltimore Spectator. He said he had little faith in the competence and ability of a large amount of the current officers on the force.

The department was jokingly compared to as a development league for surrounding counties. A continuous outflow of officers, in the form of lateral transfers to surrounding counties was noted with frustration. A lateral transfer is a sort of fast track recruiting by police departments for experienced officers. It allows new recruit training to be bypassed, with a shortened orientation taking its place. Also credit for length of service is given in pay and pension considerations. Laterals save municipalities lots of money in training costs, leaving the burden to someone else who's already paid for it, but then lose their return on investment when the officers leave.

English: Stephanie Rawlings-BlakeIncidentally, it was made abundantly clear, the vast majority of police command staff do not live in the city. Citing numerous downsides of city living and a basic lack of faith in Baltimore city government to improve conditions, many reasons were given for living in the surrounding counties. When well paid, upper management level staff of city government, chose not to live in the city, it paints a new light on the audacity of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's, oft-touted initiative of moving 10,000 new families into the city. A challenge she'll need more than luck to accomplish.

Poor Internal Communications

A recurring theme of frustration was how secretive and compartmentalized the department is. Even among it's own members, command staff included, it was expressed that one hand often has no idea what the other is doing. The insiders pointed out how often, the first time they learn of shifts in policy or changes within the department is through the media.

When the Baltimore Spectator asked about an incident Saturday involving a pedestrian struck and killed by a police car responding to a shooting, a search through departmental internal networks had no mention of it, it's mention by this writer was actually the first they had heard of it.

State Troopers stand watch on Greenmount Avenue

The State Police initiative on Greenmount Ave., chronicled by the Baltimore Spectator was also completely unknown to the commanders, although none expressed surprise at its taking place. They noted the Northern District has seen a huge spike in violence and things seemed to be moving in the wrong direction in the area.

Doubt was expressed as to whether or not state troopers from largely rural counties would be effective at policing inner city streets.

Morale Destroyed

According to the commanders, police supervisors with their level of rank and length of service would earn $20,000 to $30,000 more annually in Baltimore County. They said this caused a great amount of consternation when they consider how much more difficult their duty in the city is as compared to their county counterparts.

Numerous sources of tension was cited and repeated often. Poorly trained officers, ineffective leadership, continuous scandals and what was described as too many revolving door, short term commissioners was some of what the insiders expressed as issues causing internal unrest (at 6 years of service, the last prior commissioner, Frederick Bealefeld III, was considered one of the longest serving in a couple decades).

For command staff, who typically seek increased training and higher education, one policy change by the prior commissioner was particularly irksome. When a well established policy of tuition reimbursement for officers enrolled in approved study was yanked without notice, officers were suddenly left to pay their own education expenses after being promised the department would take care of them. This led to feelings of betrayal and  many officers felt a sort of bait and switch was pulled on them. In some cases, officers only enrolled in school because of knowing the on-the-job perk of tuition reimbursement would cover them.

When questioned or confronted about the sudden shift, then Police Commissioner Bealefeld would often remark a college degree is not needed for police work, pointing to how far he rose through the ranks with his level (or lack) of education. Bealefeld's highest level of education is a G.E.D.!

The firing of Ofc. Salvatore Rivieri after a controversial video went viral on YouTube also sent shockwaves throughout the ranks. For an officer with nearly two decades of service, and good performance record, the message sent out was there's no room for human errors in judgement. 

While insiders agree his behavior was wrong, there was unanimous consensus that his actions could have been disciplined in a far less harsh manner. Citing numerous incidents of officers who've been caught doing much worse on the job, and receiving minimal punishment, it is said the Rivieri incident sent the message that a well intentioned officer could be fired for simple making a mistake brought about by his immersion in the way things have always been done in the department, even if the mistake caused no physical harm or injury, or loss or destruction of property.

Disagreeable Directives

Photos by Jay BakerIt was said that at one point, Bealfeld wanted to institute "clean sweep" style tactics, reminiscent of the Martin O'Malley years, but commanders balked, not wanting to see the department return to what many feel was a regrettable dark era of the department.  Bealefeld had specific areas in which he wanted to deploy this tactic including the Greenmount Ave. corridor and nearby Barclay neighborhood.

Note, Bealfeld has often stated in public on various talk shows and interviews how much he would not want the department to go back to mass arrests and the type of sweeping, indiscriminate crackdowns, that often found many young black males being arrested but never formally charged. This policy was a staple during the years Martin O'Malley was mayor.

While the insiders claim Bealefeld wanted to use the controversial tactics, Bealefeld often gave himself credit by repeatedly saying how many less arrests were being made during his tenure, as compared to his predecessors.

On Race

The commanders, who were of different races, noted the majority of command staff is white. In a city that has a black population near 70%, the belief was the department and especially command, should portray more of a representation of the city.  There's a pervading belief that many of the white commanders received promotions that were often undeserved. It was pointed out, there are numerous educated, highly qualified Black members of the department who seem to be regularly passed up for promotion to higher ranks.  In 2009, the city had to settle a multi-million dollar suit, brought by a group of black officers alleging this offense among a long list of grievances found legitimate by the federal courts.

The insiders say not much has changed since the suit and conditions that led to it largely remain in place.

Major Change Needed

A consistent recurring theme coming up in conversation was how the department was inherently flawed and needed massive change in order to be effective. A certain old-line culture is said to be so deeply ingrained in the department that none believed true reform could ever come from within. "We need someone strong to come in from the outside with fresh and innovative ideas. We need to do things differently here," said one commander with nearly 30 years on the job.

When asked for a straight-up opinion of brand new Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, less than a month on the job, across the board the response was one of reserving judgement and taking a wait-and-see attitude. After being pressed, one of the insiders said he didn't believe Batts would be on the job more than 18 months.

According to sources, Batts, who holds a doctoral degree and has a consulting firm and has university faculty experience, will be allowed to retain his private consulting firm and permitted to conduct outside business while sitting as chief. Further pressing by the Baltimore Spectator saw doubt expressed as to weather his heart would be in the job. 

It's widely believed Batts stop in Baltimore is more of a resume builder to be able to add being head of multiple big city departments to his list of accomplishments, than it is a reflection of motivation to truly make a difference in the city.. Concern was, since Batts often took Fridays off, and spent weekends away from the city of Oakland, the location of his last job, he might do the same here.

Commanders referred to the violence over the weekend which saw seven people shot in the city, as an example how, at any moment, Baltimore can experience unexpected sudden surges of violence. They said a visible leader, in the city, on scene, is necessary to guide the department during times of multiple serious incidents. This is needed in order to make sure staff stays on task and on the job, with a trickle down effect starting from the highest commander down to the rank and file officers.

No comment was given in regards to allegations dogging the commissioner, of domestic and spousal abuse, womanizing and chronic dishonesty.

Much of what was revealed to the Baltimore Spectator is a stark contrast to the carefully crafted image presented to the media and general public. This account will no doubt be hotly disputed by some, and cause controversy among many readers. The comment section below is available for those wishing to offer a differing view or to add to the conversation.

A.F. James MacArthur may be reached at 410-205-NEWS (6397) voice or text message, MacArthurMedia@gmail.com, and followed via an ever expanding universe of venues:@BaltoSpectator on twitter , Spreaker web radioBlogTalk RadioBaltimore Spectator on Facebook,YouTube channel

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