01 July 2013

Letting Em Get Away With It

Police Corruption And Brutality Not Always Easy To Prove

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? --
 Who will guard the guards themselves?
 People often fear reporting police misconduct
By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.

"We have too many corrupt police officers." Last week when Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes said those words while discussing the seeming non-stop bloodshed and violence coursing through the city, the statement brought instant polarization. Responses ranged from those wholeheartedly agreeing 100%, to others being deeply offended and insulted.

Does he have any proof, was asked by many who were quick to criticize the councilman's claim as being unsubstantiated. Even the Fraternal Order Of Police chimed in via Twitter.

But has anyone considered having solid "proof" meeting the level of evidentiary standards acceptable by a court of law, is not always that easy to obtain? Lack of "proof" certainly doesn't prove something hasn't happened.

Truth is, many cases of police corruption, intimidation, and even brutality are cleverly concealed. Sometimes it'll be years after the incident before even the slightest inkling of it finds its way to some form of official report.

By it's very nature, proving wrongdoing by police is not only difficult, but the one seeking proof does so at great personal risk. At the low end, one faces potential harassment and veiled threats, at the other extreme, there are cases where people have showed up dead.

It's certainly not within the scope of this story to give a ton of specific examples, but the reader is cautioned to not take this to mean it doesn't happen.
"We take the hit at people, and say they’re not telling the police what’s happening. That’s absolutely false. People tell the police.." - Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes
As someone who's personally called 911 in Baltimore on numerous occasions to report crimes, with less than satisfactory results, I've seen first hand how reports of crime was ignored by police, creating the statistical appearance of nothing having happened.

The rhetorical question comes to mind; if a crime occurs and the police ignore it, has a crime really taken place at all? If residents call the police to report street crime and see no results, how can they feel confident in reporting possible criminal wrong doing by officers and be taken seriously?

In a statement released by the Fraternal Order of Police, it suggested Stokes statement was dishonest: "Mr. Stokes’ comments are an affront to every honest and hard working Baltimore City Police Officer, not to mention those brave police officers who gave the ultimate sacrifice while working to protect our city streets.  Mr. Stokes’ comments are outrageous, inflammatory, and untrue..."

There's no question the Baltimore Police Department is made up of many good officers, but is there any denying by a close observer that it also has more than it's fair share of bad characters?

It's not like people who see cops committing crime can just feel safe and confident that going to officials with complaints will yield results.

Even when well known crime reporter Justin Fenton recently had an incident with Baltimore Police, he chose not to file an official report. The path he picked to pursue his complaint is not one available to the typical citizen of Charm City.

Someone else would have been treated worse.
The police physically interjecting on a reporter merely trying to do his job ranks way up there in police wrong doing. Under the First Amendment, an incident like this could realistically be pursued for potential criminal wrongdoing. At a minimum, an internal affairs complaint. 

We reached out to Fenton via email to ask  for more details on the incident. His response was quite revealing:

"As I posted on Twitter, I was removed from asking a question of the commissioner at City Hall. Some asked what I was asking about at the time, but that wasn’t so much the issue as I hadn’t really gotten the question out. I spoke with the commissioner later, and I’m confident this particular kind of thing won’t be an issue again nor will it affect our coverage."

In the scale of police wrong doing, this incident is clearly on the minor side of things, but the principle involved is major.  Were it more serious, and involving the average citizen, would they be able to cut through red tape and middlemen to go straight to the Police Commissioner with their complaint? Probably not. Even this incident, public as it may have been, does not exist on official stats. Because Fenton did not file an official complaint.

Whether or not he should have taken things further is left to individual opinion. The point is, were he an average citizen being roughed up by cops for whatever reason, without the possibility of being able to tweet or write a column about it, he probably would have just stayed quiet and moved on with his life. Most people don't have the public platform that a Baltimore Sun reporter has.

It's not far fetched to imagine the same response takes place when individuals are subjected to treatment far
Some Baltimore Police officers will literally say this.
worse. Talk to enough people in Baltimore, especially in economically challenged, disenfranchised neighborhoods, they'll tell you crimes by cops are not only a normal occurrence, but that they take place with routine frequency.

People don't feel safe reporting on incidents they're personally involved in. Someone witnessing an incident of police misconduct not directly affecting them is even less likely to come forward with all the risks involved. This lack of filing official complaints, including Fenton's incident, further bolsters the culprits feeling of immunity and emboldens their impulse to keep carrying on their abusive behavior.

Cops commit crime all the time that will never be reported or documented, because people let them get away with it. We're all to blame.

After an unconstitutional imprisonment lasting 6 months, denied bail, tortured, assaulted and forced to endure inhumane conditions in the notorious Baltimore City Detention Center, A.F. James MacArthur, the original independent, established leader in on-scene, feet-on-the-street, Baltimore crime and emergency incident reporting  emerged undaunted and unafraid. Baltimore's premier independent crime correspondent and street reporter is a multimedia journalist who also covers urban decay and public corruption. Email MacArthurMedia@gmail.com@BaltoSpectator on twitterSpreaker web radioBlogTalk RadioBaltimore Spectator on Facebook,YouTube channel

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To all those who willfully, deliberately and routinely violate the civil rights of law abiding American Citizens; Yes, you're powerful. Sure, you're everywhere. But this is still America, and the Constitution of the United States Of America still reigns supreme as the law of the land. The Baltimore Spectator will vigorously and aggressively defend against any and all attempts at spying and suppression. Let it be known to all that we are already aware of the regular monitoring and shadowing attempts. There is nothing to hide, but cross the line and there will be hell to pay.

In the end, efforts to impinge upon the freedoms of the people will ultimately fail. Some of us may get taken out in the ongoing battle for true and lasting freedom, but as I've said many times before, and will say till the day I die or get taken out by you goons, THERE ARE MORE OF US, THAN THERE ARE OF YOU.

A.F. James MacArthur -- American patriot & lover of liberty.

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