A new version of this post, which now includes sample video clips appears here.
Love this so hard.
It seems that despite the most temperate reply possible, I’ve been drawn into another absurdist debate about whether The Wire, or Homicide, or perhaps even The Corner is good or bad for Baltimore. This time, the righteous indignation about the tarnish applied to my city’s reputation is from a gentleman named Mike Rowe. A Baltimore native, he is employed elsewhere in this great diaspora of television and he has now assumed the mantle of defender of my city’s reputation.
Note: These essays were, of course, written before St. Louis County prosecutors and Ferguson police relented and revealed the identity of the officer sho shot and killed Mr. Brown. Both the cost to their credibility in the delay inherent in their delay and to the civil peace of that town remains relevant, however. Moreover, the problem with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies nationally trying to maintain anonymity in such incidents is on the rise. So the essays stand as argument, regardless. – DS
August 14, 2014
Mr. Thomas Jackson
Chief of Police
Regard this as an open letter in light of your department’s unwillingness to properly identify the officer involved in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in your jurisdiction this last week.
Understand that I am someone with a high regard for good police work. I covered a large municipal department for a dozen years and spent that time writing in detail on extraordinary efforts by professional detectives and officers, and, too, on systemic and individual failures within that same agency. I am not unsympathetic to the complex truths of practical policing.
Seven years later, from the Baltimore City Paper of February 12, 2009, as the militarization of American police work continued apace, infecting not merely the federal agencies so much less accountible to individual jurisdictions, but municipal police departments that claimed to be directly in the service of specific communities:
Police work, it is said, is only easy in a police state. So welcome to the city of Baltimore, where a police officer who uses lethal force and takes human life is no longer required to stand behind his or her actions and suffer the scrutiny of the public he or she serves, where the identity of those officers who use lethal force will no longer be known, where our communities are now asked to trust in the judgment of those who clearly don’t trust us.