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.