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  December 11, 2017

The Death of Detective Sean Suiter: How Deep Does the Corruption Go?


Journalists Jayne Miller and Luke Broadwater discuss the burgeoning scandal inside the Baltimore police department over the mysterious death of homicide detective Sean Suiter, who was found dead in an alley shot, with his own gun
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STEPHEN JANIS: Almost seven years ago, I wrote a book with a former Baltimore homicide detective called 'Why Do We Kill?' In it, we recounted a Baltimore police department that was seemingly infused by corruption, but it turns out we were wrong.

In light of recent scandals, the agency is, in fact, defined by it. A damning report for the Department of Justice, a consent decree, ballooning overtime costs, and seemingly the most disturbing development: a burgeoning scandal involving at least eight officers of the Gun Trace Task Force who are accused of stealing money from residents, dealing drugs, and racketeering. Now, with the killing of Detective Sean Suiter, who recently was set to testify in the case, things have gone from bad to worse, as Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis just asked the FBI to take the case.

But, amid all the obvious dysfunction, not a single police officer has been fired, and the city and charitable organizations keep giving the department money, more, not less. So, what's going on, and is there a path forward to fix this? And, is this department beyond repair?

To help me answer this question are three of the best journalists in town with too many awards to mention. Jayne Miller is an investigative journalist for WBAL-TV, Luke Broadwater works for the Baltimore Sun and covers City Hall, and Taya Graham is a Real News reporter and member of the infamous Mod Squad. Thank you all for joining me. I really appreciate it.

Before we get started, we have a package from Taya to give us an update on where we are in the death of Detective Sean Suiter.

TAYA GRAHAM: It's a vacant lot, surrounded by abandoned homes, and yet this desolate patch of dirt symbolizes both the conflicts and secrets that continue to roil Baltimore.

It's here where Detective Sean Suiter was found shot in the head by his own gun three weeks ago. At first, police blamed the community.

KEVIN DAVIS: I do understand the temporary inconvenience for residents. I've personally interacted with residents in Harlem Park myself, and to a person, each and every one of them understands why we're out there and why we're doing what we need to do. They don't want a killer roaming around their community.

TAYA GRAHAM: But, since then, doubts, and now a call for the FBI to intervene.

CATHERINE PUGH: And so this individual was preparing to testify before the grand jury the following day, and so the FBI is already in this case. In fact, the FBI has been engaged for some time, but we really wanted them to take a close look at this particular killing or shooting, whatever took place.

TAYA GRAHAM: That's because Suiter was shot the day before he was set to testify in front of a grand jury in a major police corruption case.

Suiter, a homicide detective, was a witness in a 2010 drug case involving Sergeant Wayne Jenkins, one of now nine officers indicted for drug dealing, stealing cash from residents, and racketeering. Suiter was involved in the alleged drug bust, which led to a high-speed chase and an accident that killed the father of a Baltimore police officer, a case that federal prosecutors say was built upon planted drugs placed in the defendant's car after the accident.

It's a critical link between the actions of the former members of the Drug Trace Task Force, caught on wiretaps in 2016 and the past, a case that could have broad implications for the department, suggesting corruption is both widespread and endemic.

But, more importantly, say the activists, it's case and point for why civilian control of police is not only important but necessary.

Speaker 5: We feel like it's come to a head. They have to be disbanded, and the community has to take community control of police. That is one thing that we feel strongly about.

STEPHEN JANIS: So, Jayne, let's just start with the death of Detective Suiter, which has been obviously very controversial. What do we know now-

JAYNE MILLER: It will be three weeks tomorrow, right? Yes, November 15th. Correct.

STEPHEN JANIS: It will be three weeks. So, where are we with the case of ... You asked a very provocative question about self-inflicted at the press conference and the commissioner pushed back, but where are we with this case? What do we know, if anything, about what happened to him?

JAYNE MILLER: At this moment, it'll be three weeks tomorrow. We know that the police department has now publicly acknowledged that there are competing theories in the case. One is homicide and the other is suicide. That's kind of where we are. There's been very little activity related to this tip line and $250,000 reward.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right. Very few leads.

JAYNE MILLER: Correct. Very few public leads that have publicly come in. So, there's a bit of a feeling about this case that's kind of cold.

Now, that could change at any moment, but I do know that ... and the reason I asked the question on Friday, publicly, to really publicly acknowledge this, because I do know that from the very moment that this happened, there was evidence and features of this event ... Gunshot wound to the head, close range, gun right there-

STEPHEN JANIS: No real forensic evidence from a struggle.

JAYNE MILLER: No, and now we know there was no fingerprint DNA, etc., to indicate a second person on the gun.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right.

JAYNE MILLER: Now, that's not conclusive on its own.

STEPHEN JANIS: Of course.

JAYNE MILLER: There could be a lot of reasons for that.

There was initially this vague description offered by the police department of a person in a black jacket, white stripe, we haven't heard that in a while. The area where it happened, which now, I have a very good sense of, is one of the most secluded areas considering it's in the heart of a densely populated urban area. Just kind of perfect. Very few windows to see into it, surrounded by walls that don't have windows in them, vacant houses that may have a view but they're vacant, and no cameras.

It's amazing. One of the most violent blocks in Baltimore is the 900 block of Bennett Place, where this happened, and there's not a City Watch camera within a half mile.

STEPHEN JANIS: So, it would be a perfect place to, say, assassinate someone or for someone to commit suicide or you just don't want to see...[crosstalk 00:06:16]

JAYNE MILLER: It's a perfect place to pick, if you really want to get out of there undetected, or whatever is happening, you want it to go undetected.

STEPHEN JANIS: Luke, with all this, a profound announcement by the police commissioner saying, "Hey, I can't handle this case, or we can't, as a police department. We want the FBI to intervene." What was really striking to me is that the political ... Over at City Hall, everyone was thrown into sort of joining the commissioner in this request. What did you get the sense ... What was it that tipped the politicians, like the City Council President Jack Young and Brandon Scott, even the mayor?

What was your sense ... because you've covered City Hall for a while ... that suddenly they're ready to throw in the towel and say, "Let's get the FBI involved in this"?

LUKE BROADWATER: I think they're responding to what the community wants. There's a lot of distrust right now in whether this police department can investigate this crime. Once the news came out that Detective Suiter was about to testify before a grand jury into the corruption case against eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force, that raised a lot of questions, raised a lot of suspicion. People lost confidence in the ability of the police department to fairly investigate this case. You put that in combination with the lock-down of Harlem Park for multiple days, agitating many in the community ...

I think the politicians, the city council, even the mayor and the police commissioner themselves had to acknowledge that it would be better if an outside entity, like the FBI, took the lead on this investigation.

STEPHEN JANIS: Taya, you saw firsthand the response of the community, because you attended a Civilian Review Board meeting, which was in the community, in Harlem Park. What did you see?

TAYA GRAHAM: The Civilian Review Board is nine residents who are tasked with looking at complaints from the community, from discourtesy to brutality. We were in a small church in Harlem Park, and members from the community came forward to talk about their concerns, and their frustration.

The entire community had been cordoned off. People talked about their mail being interrupted. Some people were unable to get to work and lost wages. There was even a claim of false imprisonment. People had to show their IDs. People were made to sit on the ground and be frisked. So, the community was very upset.

Speaker 8: We got to go after the people who gave the orders because the police officers on the front lines just don't decide to cordon off a city and be assigned to one area. They don't make those decisions. This came from the police commissioner, and that's what we have to start at.

TAYA GRAHAM: The ACLU was there, Delegate Carter, who was there who oversees the Civilian Review Board, and it seemed like there wasn't anything they could do to reassure the community that they could trust the police department again.

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah, there was some profound expression of long-term discontent with the police department that I saw there.

JAYNE MILLER: Which is interesting. All these years of talking about police reform and everything else and we still have that level of-

STEPHEN JANIS: Palpable.

JAYNE MILLER: One of the points that I've made is that, if they think this through, these are the communities that -- In the corruption case -- these are the same communities that the officers accused in the corruption case are accused of robbing, lying, stealing, threatening, etc.

STEPHEN JANIS: Absolutely.

JAYNE MILLER: Now, you've got this death of a homicide detective in West Baltimore, and you're going back to the same well, so to speak, and expecting people to cooperate with you when there's a lot of bad feeling towards the police department in these communities.

STEPHEN JANIS: Talk a little bit ... What's interesting is how the scope has expanded, because originally, it was 2016, they had wiretaps. Now, talk a little bit about this 2010 case, because this 2010 case takes the timeline for this scandal and stretches it seven years, right?

JAYNE MILLER: Right. So, what happened in 2010 is that there was a traffic stop, allegedly, involving Wayne Jenkins, who's one of the indicted officers, involving Sean Suiter who was a plainclothes detective at that time working with his crew, and another officer. The three of them got involved in this car stop, and Suiter ... This is according to Jenkins. Jenkins wrote the charging document.

Charging document says that Suiter was in the back, the other two, Jenkins and the other officer are in the front, kind of boxing them in. They didn't want to cooperate, and the reason they stopped them, Jenkins wrote, is because they saw a guy getting into the car with cash. They thought it's a drug transaction. This is Baltimore, so you don't need a whole lot more. That has been used for thousands of times by police, it's probable cause.

STEPHEN JANIS: Obviously not. Right.

JAYNE MILLER: So, the other officer drew a gun on the driver, and then took off, the car took off. Went some distance, and there was a pursuit, and the driver of that car ran into another vehicle, crashed into a vehicle at an intersection, and the 87-year-old man that was in that car died.

STEPHEN JANIS: He was a father of a Baltimore police officer. Right.

JAYNE MILLER: That's right. At the time, nothing happened ... Nothing involving the police. The driver of the car and his passenger were both charged. The driver of the car pleaded guilty to manslaughter. They both were prosecuted in federal court on drug charges, and there was a guilty plea from the driver of the car in that case, too.

Fast forward. Jenkins gets indicted in March. Indictment's unsealed. The defendant in that case, whose name is Mr. Burley, writes a letter to the judge in his case and says, "Hey, I need a lawyer, because this is the guy who arrested me, Wayne Jenkins, and someone needs to look at my case."

Apparently, they did, because in August, he was released from prison after serving less than half of his prison time. The prosecutors now want to vacate the conviction in the drug case, and Jenkins has now had new charges added to him, accusing him of planting drugs. The role of Sean Suiter in that case is that again, this is according to the new charges, he's the one who recovered the planted drugs without knowing they were planted.

STEPHEN JANIS: One of the really fascinating details from that case is that a sergeant just shows up with [crosstalk 00:12:48].

JAYNE MILLER: With the supply.

STEPHEN JANIS: You've covered policing a lot. What does that tell you about the level and the depth of potential corruption of the police? I won't put you on the spot if you're uncomfortable with it, but to me, that was like, "Wow. Do they have a FedEx system where they're delivering? Who needs drugs planted? Call this guy," because he got there on the scene pretty quickly because there was an accident, so from a pure basis of covering police corruption, what do you think?

LUKE BROADWATER: I think that the corruption scandal involved with the Gun Trace Task Force is certainly the biggest and deepest corruption scandal that I've seen in my time covering Baltimore, maybe ever. The fact that the agency was very heavily reliant on these eight men to basically get a disproportionate amount of guns off the case and was lauding them and-

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah, they were lauding them every ... We used to get their emails.

LUKE BROADWATER: -rewarding them, and promoting them and pumping them up.

STEPHEN JANIS: Gun defender. I remember. It was constant.

LUKE BROADWATER: I think that given that scenario, many people have said there was kind of a blind eye turned to some of the things they were doing, and now we know the depths of this case, and with five of them pleading guilty, they're admitting it themselves. This is isn't me calling them guilty. They're even admitting it.

STEPHEN JANIS: Do you think there's any recognition in the City Council and the City Hall how deep this goes? Honestly, dude, do people talk to you about it, or is it just, "Hey, there's always a little bit of scandal in the police department. This is nothing abnormal."

LUKE BROADWATER: We've grown accustomed to a little bit of scandal with the police department.

STEPHEN JANIS: That's true.

LUKE BROADWATER: We've had towing scandals, we've had Flex Squad scandals.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right, you wrote about Jemini Jones, one of the best articles on policing and everyone should read. I don't know if you can get it online, but Jemini Jones was part of the Flex Squad who just basically boasted to you about all the unconstitutional tactics, right?

LUKE BROADWATER: As we all know, what the DOJ said is in the push to ramp up arrests back in 1999, in which arrests started to go over 100,000, a culture was ingrained in the police department and was passed down from the top to mid-level to the low level, and which constitutional rights were violated. That's what the Department of Justice said.

STEPHEN JANIS: Now, your article about Pugh, where you're saying Pugh's first year's consumed by violence, but she's kind of wedded to the police department like other mayors, right?

LUKE BROADWATER: Oh, absolutely.

TAYA GRAHAM: Can I just add that because of the Gun Trace Task Force, prosecutors are going to drop, or have already dropped, about 125 cases. If the City State's Attorney's Office has to review the cases, starting since 2010-

JAYNE MILLER: So, if we expand that timeline-

TAYA GRAHAM: -they could be looking at almost 2,000 cases that they then have to review?

STEPHEN JANIS: That's what the public defender's office said. Yeah, 2,000 cases.

TAYA GRAHAM: That's an incredible number. If you add that to the body camera footage cases where there is police officers and depending on your point of view are either planting evidence or reenacting the placement of drugs, this is an incredible amount of cases to have to review, and you cannot forget the real impact here. Even though the scandal and the depth of the scandal is impressive, we have to remember how many people are sitting in jail, falsely accused, who have lost years of their lives because of the Gun Trace Task Force and these other crooked cops.

JAYNE MILLER: Just kind of the history of the last 40 years, I did a story not too long ago on the War on Drugs in Baltimore. Drug arrests have dominated policing in cities like Baltimore, the number of people arrested between 1980 and 2014 on drug charges in the city of Baltimore is more than 630,000.

STEPHEN JANIS: That's incredible. The entire city-

JAYNE MILLER: I'm sorry. That's not the number of people. That's the number of arrests. Some of those people were arrested more than once. But, it's an enormous number of arrests.

LUKE BROADWATER: That's the population of Baltimore.

JAYNE MILLER: Exactly, and so year after year, after year, after year, there were people being arrested, and arrested, and arrested on drug charges. It became the barometer of how well the police department was doing, was how many people they were locking up on drug charges.

STEPHEN JANIS: One point, and then I want you to continue this, is it changes the culture of policing. You don't have to arrest someone for committing a specific act with intent. You just got to find something on them.

JAYNE MILLER: Correct. Just chase them around, get a few bags, correct.

STEPHEN JANIS: That's the simplest sort of crime. If this is a thing and I put it next to Luke, I can arrest Luke. If I want to prove that Luke committed burglary, I got to do some work, but I can just pull over a car ... It makes fishing almost like the most beneficial thing-

JAYNE MILLER: And it continues today. That's still very much a priority in policing in Baltimore is chasing people around.

STEPHEN JANIS: Well, the body cam, you know?

JAYNE MILLER: That's what it shows. Right. Correct. So, this idea that ... It's hard to swallow, to think that officers, all the time they were arresting these folks, that some of them were doing it in a corrupt manner. It's a lot to wrap your head around about the depth of the dishonesty of what may have been going on for all these years, and yes, now we see that all those officers involved in that 2010 incident are going to have to be looked at, because ...

Well, Suiter's gone, but there's Jenkins who was already indicted. There's two other sergeants that were involved in that.

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah, and there's a sergeant looming out there who we don't ... there have been questions about.

JAYNE MILLER: Well, they've suspended one.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right, and then there's another guy who-

JAYNE MILLER: He obviously is the witness. The new information in this indictment against Jenkins can only come from one person. It can only come from one person because Suiter's dead. Jenkins is not talking, right?

STEPHEN JANIS: It's got to be that sergeant that-

JAYNE MILLER: That one sergeant, yeah. That's correct. The one who's now been suspended. So, now, what's the impact?

STEPHEN JANIS: How far does it go?

JAYNE MILLER: Think about the impact.

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah, sure.

JAYNE MILLER: But the impact is, here you are with the FBI. The FBI's conducting this obviously ongoing investigation, and now one of your witnesses is dead, and another one is suspended, and it's like, what's the impact of that?

STEPHEN JANIS: Let me throw this out there. Is it possible that this scandal only is limited to 10 or 12 officers?

JAYNE MILLER: No. I think that's everybody's concern, is that how far does it go? And keep in mind how it started. This all started ... They got lucky on a drug wiretap.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right. They weren't looking for it.

JAYNE MILLER: No. That's correct. That's an interesting question, they weren't looking for it.

STEPHEN JANIS: No, they were not.

JAYNE MILLER: So, you've had complaint, after complaint, after complaint all these years. People saying, I got ripped off, I got strip-searched ... and it takes almost an accidental listening to a wiretap focused on drug dealers to hear this cop show up on it, and that started the much more focused investigation then on particular officers.

STEPHEN JANIS: Luke, I was thinking about ... I want to return a little bit to Pugh, but I also want to throw out there, Commissioner Davis threw out something in the press conference that no one had heard before, which is this Broken Boundaries.

JAYNE MILLER: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:19:45].

TAYA GRAHAM: He leaked the name. That's [crosstalk 00:19:49] incredible.

JAYNE MILLER: I know, I was like, "What?"

STEPHEN JANIS: He was saying he was not a part of the Broken Boundaries, like, "What is Broken Boundaries?"

JAYNE MILLER: Right. What is that?

STEPHEN JANIS: Is there a feeling over at City Hall that Commissioner Davis can't be trusted? The point is that it's almost like the police department is trying to sabotage this case to a certain extent. I don't want to put you on the spot, but-

LUKE BROADWATER: I think Pugh trusts Commissioner Davis a lot.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right. Does she want to get rid of him? Or what do you think?

LUKE BROADWATER: I don't think so. In every conversation I've had with her about Davis, she's very committed to him. She thinks he's doing the right things and that crime eventually will fall, and he's a reformer of the police department. That said, some of his statements in the past week have been inconsistent. At first, he said that it seemed that he had just learned about this new information about Suiter being a federal witness. Then, he said, "Actually, I learned about it three or four days before that."

There have been other things like that where-

STEPHEN JANIS: Also, he kind of immediately touted this idea that there was some killer who lived in the city, lurking in Harlem Park, and that we were going to lock down Harlem Park-

LUKE BROADWATER: A soulless, heartless killer-

STEPHEN JANIS: Soulless, heartless, assault on democracy. Now-

JAYNE MILLER: Right. Assault on American policing. Correct.

STEPHEN JANIS: Now what do you do if you've gone public and said that? Suddenly, your detective's saying, "Well, this could have been self-inflicted," or he's a witness in a federal case. You would think Davis would have the political acumen to keep his mouth shut. But, apparently, he doesn't. Yet, you think Pugh has no misgivings about him or anyone on the council?

JAYNE MILLER: I get this feeling, this sense, that people in the City Council, and now in the mayor, etc., think that, "Oh, well, if the FBI takes it, everything gets cleaned up with this."

STEPHEN JANIS: That's one of the entanglements between the FBI and-

JAYNE MILLER: That doesn't do that, and I think you're asking a lot for people to say, "Oh, well, it's the FBI. Okay." You're putting an agency, the FBI, in a very bad situation.

STEPHEN JANIS: Sure. Clean up my mess.

JAYNE MILLER: Two weeks after the fact, you want them to come in and now lead this investigation, and while you make the request you publicly accuse them of leaving your detectives in the dark.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right. He said, in the press conference, "I didn't know about this. What else don't I know? So, I'm giving it to the FBI because I don't know," and he's basically saying, "The FBI doesn't trust me, so I'm just going to divulge information about their investigation."

A lot of homicide detectives I talked to said he should never have mentioned the fact that Suiter was a witness in this grand jury indictment.

JAYNE MILLER: There's a lot of debate about that.

STEPHEN JANIS: There is a lot of debate.

JAYNE MILLER: Something that was not unknown, but it was like, who was going to report it?

STEPHEN JANIS: Right. Luke, what were you going to say?

LUKE BROADWATER: I actually think his hand was forced by the media in that case. I think that several outlets were all onto this information.

JAYNE MILLER: We knew that Suiter had worked with these guys a lot, and that's correct.

LUKE BROADWATER: We were getting close to reporting, the police department knew, we were getting close to reporting. I think they thought it was better to come out and get in front of this story and be proactive about this information.

STEPHEN JANIS: But then for a police commissioner to say, "Well, I don't know what's going on," and basically telegraph that the feds don't trust him ... Tay, this is sort of a history in Baltimore of police commissioners and police agencies getting intertwined with the mayor in a way that almost compromises them, right?

TAYA GRAHAM: Right. Mayor Pugh is in a bad position, and perhaps, that's why she's forced to trust Commissioner Davis. Whenever a mayor weds himself to reducing crime in Baltimore, they rise and fall with the success of the police department, which means that it's to their benefit to turn the other way when the police department does brutal actions to try to get crime under control.

We saw that in 1999, when Martin O'Malley promised to reduce violent crime in Baltimore City. He enacted Zero Tolerance, which we know from the Department of Justice report, from reports of the community-

STEPHEN JANIS: Started the whole game, basically.

TAYA GRAHAM: -it created the plainclothes units along the lines of the Gun Trace Task Force, which we know used brutal and unconstitutional and even racist policing practices. Later, in 2014, our mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake comes forward and says, "Policing is an ugly business. It's not all peaches and cream," so the community has to-

STEPHEN JANIS: We were all there. I'll never forget that.

TAYA GRAHAM: -take what it gets.

STEPHEN JANIS: She did say that. She said, "Policing is not ... "

TAYA GRAHAM: If you want to be safe, you're just going to have to take it, and you get what you deserve.

STEPHEN JANIS: Interesting rhetoric. If you were running a hustle or a confidence game ... We were talking just before we started about this donation from Bloomberg. It seems that no matter how bad the police department performs, people still throw money at them. So, really, it's like perverse incentive. You've seen this, Jayne, over years, and Luke, [crosstalk 00:24:38], we'll start with you.

They just get more money no matter what they do, no matter how bad they perform. If we, as journalists, had a Justice Department report about us, about being this bad, and I've probably said this before, we'd all be fired, but these guys ... Bloomberg just said, "Let's give them more money." What's going on?

JAYNE MILLER: Their budget has been an ever-escalating number, dramatically so.

STEPHEN JANIS: No matter what happens, though.

JAYNE MILLER: It outpaces everything else, in terms of your spending priorities, and I think it probably sends a very disheartening message to ... I think this Bloomberg grant, it's called an innovation grant, am I correct? You guys wrote about this, right?

LUKE BROADWATER: It's a Bloomberg Philanthropies Grant.

JAYNE MILLER: Okay. All right.

It's going to the police department. We have children that are desperate for pre-K. We have children who are desperate for after-school ... You know, they call it enrichment, and the money just ... What's the one thing that's happened in the Western part of Baltimore in the last couple years is that the Western District Police Station got renovated, with private foundation money.

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah. Luke, you had a really interesting tweet where you showed the police spending over about five or six years, when you said it went up $150 million, almost the same amount as the school deficit.

LUKE BROADWATER: That's right. Yeah.

STEPHEN JANIS: What was it? You went to three-

LUKE BROADWATER: Had risen by about $130 million a year, I think since 2007, if I recall, which was, at the time, the size of the school deficit. So, you could see how the budget really has grown dramatically, and I think, actually, Bill Henry had a recent op-ed about this.

JAYNE MILLER: Yes, he did.

LUKE BROADWATER: He put that the recreation and parks funding has pretty much stayed the same since [crosstalk 00:26:16].

JAYNE MILLER: That's correct.

STEPHEN JANIS: Since the 1990s, yeah.

LUKE BROADWATER: The police department had risen by four or five times.

STEPHEN JANIS: How do you have a functional agency where the incentives are, "Fail." The more you fail, the more the city, the worst the city gets that you're working in, the more money you get.

What's Pugh estimating? $10 million a year for the ... I don't, actually, I'm speaking out of turn, but for the consent decree spending, is it ... We know $1.7-something for the monitor. We know that. Then, on top of that, it was what? 10? 12?

LUKE BROADWATER: That sounds right, but [crosstalk 00:26:48].

JAYNE MILLER: Yeah, but I don't know if that's an annual amount. I think there's an upfront amount, but you're right.

STEPHEN JANIS: We don't know exactly, but the point is that if you look at consent decree spending, it's hundreds of millions of dollars. The point is, heads I win, tails you lose.

JAYNE MILLER: I think the other problem right now is that that consent decree is just getting drowned out by the corruption allegations. There's no question that ...

It's like, okay, these guys were doing this while the DOJ was in your backyard.

TAYA GRAHAM: Right, just shows incredibly brazen they are.

JAYNE MILLER: Right. That's the truth. Right.

STEPHEN JANIS: And they've now, within 2010 at least, and I think the guy ... Like when you wrote that Jemini Jones piece, a lot of the stuff he does was at least unconstitutional. I don't know if he was planting drugs or anything, but that Flex Squad was raided and they found gambling dice, and money, and drugs, and everything. It was controversial.

LUKE BROADWATER: One of the allegations in that case was that the same charging dockets were being used for multiple people, and they were just changing out the people's names.

JAYNE MILLER: Right. Like a boiler plate.

LUKE BROADWATER: Yeah, and changing people's names.

STEPHEN JANIS: Just so people know, that was 2006, right? Or was it ...

LUKE BROADWATER: That sounds about right.

JAYNE MILLER: That was also the allegation in that Special Enforcement Unit, which wasn't Jemini Jones. It was another group that they were just cutting and pasting. But, again, it gets back to the drug enforcement.

STEPHEN JANIS: Right, and we're talking 10 years, and Taya, you reviewed a lot of those Zero Tolerance, and they are very similar, right?

TAYA GRAHAM: Absolutely. Well, the Zero Tolerance cases in particular really illustrate the heart of Zero Tolerance policing, how Broken Windows theory really works. I looked at about 100 reports from 2006, and it said, "Expectorating on side walk. Having an open container of Steel Reserve Beer. Purchasing loose cigarettes." Or being in the neighborhood and not being able to produce ID to prove that you live there, would mean that you would be arrested and taken down to Central Booking.

STEPHEN JANIS: That is a profound power, to be able to say, "I was just driving there. I saw a person. I'm going to take them into custody," but that went on and no one ... Look, no one politically, until the Justice Department and Freddie Gray happened, was really willing to criticize it.

So, I guess the question is, I'll go across ... The final question is, is there anything to do at this point other than follow this ... Maybe this corruption will be the answer, that we follow this corruption case to its end, but what can be done? Is there any political will?

JAYNE MILLER: I think Baltimore is in a really delicate position right now. There's not a lot of confidence in leadership. The violence continues as it has for all these years. I know, everybody's like, "Oh, well, we only had 197 homicides in 2011," but it's like-

STEPHEN JANIS: There was a blizzard.

JAYNE MILLER: It's like, you know what?

STEPHEN JANIS: There was four weeks of snow where people couldn't walk outside.

JAYNE MILLER: That's right. The very same communities that have been so plagued by violence are still the same communities plagued by the violence. That's what has not changed. You can say, "Oh, it was more numbers then." It doesn't matter. These are communities that are completely under siege and have been, decade after decade.

STEPHEN JANIS: And underserved.

JAYNE MILLER: That's correct. And now, I think the biggest difference now versus the '90s is that these communities that are so plagued by violence, are all the more hollowed out.

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah.

JAYNE MILLER: Then they've lost investment, they've lost people, they've lost business, they've lost everything, and they're just a skeleton now of what they were 20 and 30 years ago. They are still under siege with violence, so I just think we're in a really delicate place, that somebody or something has to emerge that restores some confidence in leadership, and I don't know what that is at this point.

STEPHEN JANIS: Luke, you've written about competing crime plans. Has anybody emerged other than the mayor? Anything come out of City Council that seems like it might be headed in a different direction?

LUKE BROADWATER: I'll address two things. One, police corruption, and then two, crime.

STEPHEN JANIS: Sure.

LUKE BROADWATER: I spoke with both the City Solicitor Andre Davis and Jill Carter at the Head of the Office of Civil Rights about tackling police corruption. Both of them believe that the culture needs to change so that there's a great pride in constitutional policing, that police officers become experts in the law, that they have a great sense of mission in terms of policing according to the Constitution, not the past standards of policing by the number of arrests, or whatever other metrics they were using, and you really need to change the entire culture of the agency to achieve that goal.

The other point about crime is, I think Mayor Pugh needs to decide whether she wants to pursue the conservative solutions to crime or the liberal solutions to crime. Conservatives traditionally view, traditionally has been longer sentences more police, more arrests, all that enforcement, whereas she started off her tenure talking about preventing crime by investing in youth, by-

STEPHEN JANIS: Right. She definitely did.

LUKE BROADWATER: -increasing wages, eliminating poverty, things like that, which would prevent crime, not just punish it.

There is also a hybrid way, which is funding things like Safe Streets and-

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah, [inaudible 00:32:06] model.

LUKE BROADWATER: -Operation Cease Fire, which do both things, which give ex-offenders jobs, and have them intervene in the community without arrests. But, you really need to fund these things.

STEPHEN JANIS: True.

LUKE BROADWATER: Give people real options for job training and jobs, once you've identified who are the people that need the most attention?

JAYNE MILLER: And you have to be consistent about it.

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah.

JAYNE MILLER: Those pure violence efforts have never gotten consistent funding.

STEPHEN JANIS: They've never been funded by City Hall. They're always funded by grants.

Taya, I will give you the last word. What do you think might be happening or developing in terms of real reform?

TAYA GRAHAM: If we're looking for a way forward, I think we need to look at the next state legislative session in Annapolis where most likely Mayor Pugh and activists will once again try to get a civilian placed on the Internal Disciplinary Trial Board. The FOP, the Fraternal Order of Police, the union, effectively fought against that last year.

STEPHEN JANIS: Very effectively.

TAYA GRAHAM: This form of civilian oversight is actually very relevant and very important because we just saw the trial boards of Lieutenant Brian Rice and Cesar Goodson, who were both officers involved with the in-custody death of Freddie Gray. The escaped any sort of criminal discipline, and then through that trial board, they also escaped any sort of administrative discipline.

If we're looking for a way forward, the question is, will the FOP fight us every step of the way?

STEPHEN JANIS: Obviously, we all know, I think, as long as the police department continues to have most of the budget, most of the money, most of the power, most of the rhetorical power, I don't know what we do.

I really appreciate everybody coming here, and-

JAYNE MILLER: That was really encouraging.

STEPHEN JANIS: Yeah, sorry. [crosstalk 00:33:41]

TAYA GRAHAM: A very positive note to end on. Thank you.

JAYNE MILLER: But you were right though. They got-

STEPHEN JANIS: They do. They get all the money.

JAYNE MILLER: They got the biggest bullhorn and they get all the money. That's correct. That's right.

TAYA GRAHAM: Maybe we're on the wrong team.

STEPHEN JANIS: They love the camera now, so, anyway ... Listen. Thank you all for joining me. I really appreciate it. We will continue this discussion. This is Stephen Janis reporting for the Real News Network in Baltimore. Thank you for joining us.



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