Posts Tagged ‘Maryland’

Police & sex workers

January 9, 2019

This article summarizes a study of 250 street-based female sex workers in Baltimore. More than half had experienced some form of client violence in the last 3 months. In regard to contacts with police, “Excluding arrest, 92 percent had experienced at least one patrol/enforcement activity, and 78 percent had experienced at least one abusive encounter in their lifetime.” Frequent police interactions were more common for those who were also daily drug abusers. The study recommends developing police training specific to interactions with sex workers and establishing a liaison within each police agency.

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Baltimore still in limbo

December 26, 2018

This article identifies several challenges still confronting Baltimore PD, which remains under a federal consent decree, faces additional scrutiny from a state commission looking into systemic misconduct including corruption, and awaits confirmation of a new police commissioner, their 5th in less than 4 years. Homicides in the city have exceeded 300 for the 4th year in a row — some think mistrust of the police plays a role in people’s “willingness to take interpersonal differences into one’s own hands.”

The kingpin strategy

November 15, 2018

This column reviews Baltimore’s experience with drug enforcement and violence from the 1970s to the 1990s to illustrate how the “kingpin strategy” doesn’t always work as intended. The effect can be to turn relatively organized crime controlled by adults into disorganized crime run by youth. In Baltimore, success in arresting and prosecuting the leaders of drug-dealing organizations did not seem to result in less drug abuse, while the level of violence associated with the drug trade actually increased.

Close look at hate crime

October 19, 2018

This article takes a close look at hate crime in Maryland, a state with broader reporting requirements than most. Reported incidents went up 35% from 2016 to 2017, with African-Americans targeted most often, followed by Jews. Separate data from schools on “bullying, harassment or intimidation related to race, sexual orientation or disability” similarly increased by almost 40%. The most common explanation relates to divisive and hateful political rhetoric. One civil rights leader noted “People haven’t developed new sentiments [but] they certainly feel more liberated to express themselves.”

Getting the facts out quickly

September 26, 2018

This article reports an incident in Prince George’s County, Maryland of a SWAT raid at a wrong apartment, resulting in two officers being shot (not critically) by the startled resident and one round being fired by police. Noteworthy is that the police chief held a full press conference in less than 24 hours, providing the facts, apologizing for the bungled operation, halting serving search warrants until the cause of the mistake is determined, and announcing that the resident would not be charged. The reporter comments on the rarity of such quick and full disclosure in the aftermath of a controversial incident.

His brother’s keeper

July 3, 2018

This article profiles T.J. Smith, spokesman for Baltimore PD since a few months after the 2015 riots. A Baltimore native but veteran of a neighboring county police department, he’s become the face and voice of a city that continues to experience nearly a murder a day, using “candid language to express his disgust, as if he were just an ordinary citizen angry about the news.” The article weaves together the story of the city’s violence and Smith’s personal journey, including his brother’s murder one year ago.

Civilian police commissioners

June 21, 2018

This column discusses the potential benefits of utilizing civilian police commissioners at the head of police departments, including current or past examples in New York, Baltimore, and a few other cities. The argument is that commissioners “maintain a level of objectivity and avoid much of the conflict that uniformed police chiefs often face in having to balance their allegiance between the elected officials who appointed them and the personnel who share the uniform that they wear.”

Where killings go unsolved

June 7, 2018

This article analyzes over 50,000 homicides in U.S. cities, mapping neighborhoods with higher and lower clearance rates. There are variations between cities but also within, with fewer murders solved in low-income minority neighborhoods. Factors seem to include the challenge presented by drug- and gang-related cases, reluctant witnesses, lack of trust in police, and the resources devoted to homicide investigation.

National standards for SROs

May 31, 2018

This article reports on proposed legislation in Congress that would establish national training standards for school resource officers. A few states have adopted specific training mandates for SROs but most have not. The proposals would also begin national data collection on SROs and develop a set of best practices.

Mining social media

April 27, 2018

This article discusses legal and ethical issues connected to police mining of social media. Data from social media have the potential to solve and prevent crimes as well as terror attacks, but many 4th amendment and privacy questions have yet to be sorted out. Also, choices of search terms and phrases can reflect bias and result in police actions that have disproportionate impact on some groups. Among the suggestions is transparency so residents can understand and critique the algorithms and processes that police propose.