This is just a scathing indictment of Martin O’Malley and how he ran Baltimore:
Originally, early in his tenure, O’Malley brought Ed Norris in as commissioner and Ed knew his business. He’d been a criminal investigator and commander in New York and he knew police work. And so, for a time, real crime suppression and good retroactive investigation was emphasized, and for the Baltimore department, it was kind of like a fat man going on a diet. Just leave the French fries on the plate and you lose the first ten pounds. The initial crime reductions in Baltimore under O’Malley were legit and O’Malley deserved some credit.
But that wasn’t enough. O’Malley needed to show crime reduction stats that were not only improbable, but unsustainable without manipulation. And so there were people from City Hall who walked over Norris and made it clear to the district commanders that crime was going to fall by some astonishing rates. Eventually, Norris got fed up with the interference from City Hall and walked, and then more malleable police commissioners followed, until indeed, the crime rate fell dramatically. On paper.
How? There were two initiatives. First, the department began sweeping the streets of the inner city, taking bodies on ridiculous humbles, mass arrests, sending thousands of people to city jail, hundreds every night, thousands in a month. They actually had police supervisors stationed with printed forms at the city jail – forms that said, essentially, you can go home now if you sign away any liability the city has for false arrest, or you can not sign the form and spend the weekend in jail until you see a court commissioner. And tens of thousands of people signed that form.***
The second thing Marty did, in order to be governor, involves the stats themselves. In the beginning, under Norris, he did get a better brand of police work and we can credit a legitimate 12 to 15 percent decline in homicides. Again, that was a restoration of an investigative deterrent in the early years of that administration. But it wasn’t enough to declare a Baltimore Miracle, by any means.
What can you do? You can’t artificially lower the murder rate – how do you hide the bodies when it’s the state health department that controls the medical examiner’s office? But the other felony categories? Robbery, aggravated assault, rape? Christ, what they did with that stuff was jaw-dropping.
So they cooked the books.
Oh yeah. If you hit somebody with a bullet, that had to count. If they went to the hospital with a bullet in them, it probably had to count as an aggravated assault. But if someone just took a gun out and emptied the clip and didn’t hit anything or they didn’t know if you hit anything, suddenly that was a common assault or even an unfounded report. Armed robberies became larcenies if you only had a victim’s description of a gun, but not a recovered weapon. And it only gets worse as some district commanders began to curry favor with the mayoral aides who were sitting on the Comstat data. In the Southwest District, a victim would try to make an armed robbery complaint, saying , ‘I just got robbed, somebody pointed a gun at me,’ and what they would do is tell him, well, okay, we can take the report but the first thing we have to do is run you through the computer to see if there’s any paper on you. Wait, you’re doing a warrant check on me before I can report a robbery? Oh yeah, we gotta know who you are before we take a complaint. You and everyone you’re living with? What’s your address again? You still want to report that robbery?
They cooked their own books in remarkable ways. Guns disappeared from reports and armed robberies became larcenies. Deadly weapons were omitted from reports and aggravated assaults became common assaults. The Baltimore Sun did a fine job looking into the dramatic drop in rapes in the city. Turned out that regardless of how insistent the victims were that they had been raped, the incidents were being quietly unfounded. That tip of the iceberg was reported, but the rest of it, no. And yet there were many veteran commanders and supervisors who were disgusted, who would privately complain about what was happening. If you weren’t a journalist obliged to quote sources and instead, say, someone writing a fictional television drama, they’d share a beer and let you fill cocktail napkins with all the ways in which felonies disappeared in those years.
I mean, think about it. How does the homicide rate decline by 15 percent, while the agg assault rate falls by more than double that rate. Are all of Baltimore’s felons going to gun ranges in the county? Are they becoming better shots? Have the mortality rates for serious assault victims in Baltimore, Maryland suddenly doubled? Did they suddenly close the Hopkins and University emergency rooms and return trauma care to the dark ages? It makes no sense statistically until you realize that you can’t hide a murder, but you can make an attempted murder disappear in a heartbeat, no problem.
But these guys weren’t satisfied with just juking their own stats. No, the O’Malley administration also went back to the last year of the previous mayoralty and performed its own retroactive assessment of those felony totals, and guess what? It was determined from this special review that the preceding administration had underreported its own crime rate, which O’Malley rectified by upgrading a good chunk of misdemeanors into felonies to fatten up the Baltimore crime rate that he was inheriting. Get it? How better than to later claim a 30 or 40 percent reduction in crime than by first juking up your inherited rate as high as she’ll go. It really was that cynical an exercise.
Read the whole thing, but if you watched the Wire, by the second paragraph you’ll find that all of a sudden it feels like you are in a smoky bar listening to Bunk and McNulty.
Damn! That is hardcore O’Malley smackdown! It seems almost like he fudged the numbers from the previous administration and then gave the BPD carte blanche to just mass incarcerate black people in West Baltimore. What a set of destructive policies for the city, just to serve his own political ambitions.
No wonder he’s only at 3% in public polling.
Who knew we should harness youth to foment change.
Agree that he should be asked about it, but I apply the same rules to O’Malley that I apply to Obama and Clinton and any other Democrat — and that is not to rush to judgment based on initial reporting.
When you walk through the garden
you gotta watch your back
well I beg your pardon
walk the straight and narrow track
@Baud: Simon’s writing about Baltimore is anything but “initial”.
Then why is this news about O’Malley coming out now?
Villago Delenda Est
Martin O’Malley is utterly unfit to be the Democratic nominee for President.
@Baud: Just because it’s the first you heard about it doesn’t mean it’s “coming out now”.
I was seeing a Bill Rawls/Burrell Comstat meeting. That kind of thing led to the Hamsterdam storyline.
That excerpt tells me about the show, not about reality. Maybe they are the same, but I haven’t seen any reporting on reality before now.
ETA: Oh, you added a link. I’ll read the whole thing.
Thanks for making this FP. As I stated down thread, it’s a real eye-opener on how BPD operates and people need to know this. But, it puts O’Malley in a poor spot.
@Baud: You think I’m just dreaming this shit up?
In other news Rachel actually mentioned that it’s the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon.
No, and thanks for the excerpts. But so far, it still sounds like O’Malley has a single accuser. Ok if I wait to see what he says in response?
When he showed back up in BAL he got heckled by people with long memories. Not just general boo-birds, people who wanted him to GTFO.
That’s not an accusation but it does seem a pace.
@Baud: I don’t really give a shit one way or the other but you knew that.
@raven: sheeeeiittttClay Davis LOL
@Renie: We were talking about that at dinner.
I know. And if this is all true and accurate, I’m glad it’s coming out now rather than later.
@Baud: In 2008.
Well now all the people who don’t want it to be Hillary will have to find some other dude.
Mike in NC
I only lived in Maryland for a couple of years, but Jesus did they have some whack-job politicians. Governor William Donald Schaefer, a goddamn Democrat who endorsed Poppy Bush over Bill Clinton. Governor Bobby “Haircut” Erlich. Ellen Sauerbrey, anybody? She was crazier than a shithouse rat…
@Mike in NC: Spiro!
Why? He was never going to be the Dem nominee and never anyone’s VP pick. Who does he deliver? Nobody that isn’t already coming along.
Doesn’t matter what he does.
Just in case. If Clinton has a health issue, it’s a wide open field.
@raven: Laugh everytime I hear him do that.
I’m happy to take Simon at his word, because he was there and he seems like he was a competent and dedicated journalist who was on top of his shit, but wouldn’t it be nice if we had a functioning press in this country, who could investigate his claims, corroborate or expand them, and publish the data for everyone to see?
Or is the press just going to wait for some oppo research hack to do the work–sloppily– and then sell them the “exclusive” rights to it?
For additional commentary, it’d be nice if said journalist also sniffed around to determine if Jerry Brown did the same thing in Oakland. And maybe even dug around and found out all the cities in which this same trick has been pulled, and for how long it’s been going on? I mean, did Giuliani do the same thing in NYC in the 90s? I don’t know. I’d like someone whose job it is to do this kind of investigation to do it, and tell me.
America needs to address this. All of it. In all cities. Now.
The drug war, police being asked to do the impossible and hold a thin blue line against the chaos created when the social safety net and entire communities have been systematically destroyed, corrupt politicians looking the other way at brutality– even encouraging it– and cooking the numbers to make themselves look good, hundreds of years of racism, police departments shaking down the poorest citizens to pay their own salaries, corrupt banking and real estate systems redlining neighborhoods, predatory lending, income inequality, the whole thing. And of course the media negligence is part of the story too.
This is the biggest story around right now, and it’s much bigger than Baltimore or O’Malley. It’s Ferguson, Staten Island, Sanford, Oakland, etc. It’s about what America has become, and how do we fix this?
Two words: Freddie Gray. Shouldn’t be a surprise: even disregarding The Wire – or relegating it to that twilight universe of “reality-based fiction” – he owns his own record as Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland: and now, thanks to a blatant national scandal, that record (which might have otherwise gone unexamined, or at least less-examined) is thrust into the spotlight. And it doesn’t look too pretty. Even if O’Malley weren’t a semi-candidate for national office, the Gray affair is going to spotlight him, his Administration, his policing policies, Baltimore politics, Maryland politics, etc. Very much the definition of “not pretty”. Pre-riots, his malodorous policing policies might have been swept under the rug, or dismissed as oppo-research propaganda – now, not so much….
If Clinton has an issue then get the fuck outta the way as Biden and Kerry run screaming like bloodthirsty Vikings toward the announcement podium.
Former mayors aren’t going to get the benefit of the doubt – nature of the office.
Fair enough. As was said upthread, maybe we can get some reporters to do their job now?
Yeah, it would get crazy real fast.
@raven: OK you win. Spiro Agnew is a low bar, and is one of the few politicians from the past who’d find a spot in the 2015 clown car.
Though, for weird politicians, honorable mention to Judith Toth http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1986/Zappa-Testifies-at-Hearing-on-Sale-of-Obscene-Records-to-Minors/id-1b6dc107f4418cfbb35540d0b8ca2b0b
I hear he gave a few well received speeches in Iowa, though.
@Corner Stone: Kerry doesn’t want the presidency. He has his dream job right now.
If its true (and we’ll need some corroboration on that), then O’Malley put O’Malley in a tight spot.
There’s a reason Carcetti was as messed up a character as he was. Simon loathed O’Malley as a politician and he put everything he saw in him into that character.
Exactly as depicted in The Wire.
Why is anyone surprised?
Well, thanks for front-paging this, John… there are more nuanced versions of O’Malley’s tenure, and I’ve been working on a post, but flinching from the torrent of YOU FILTHY DISHONEST PUMA!!!! comments that I’m sure would (will) ensue.
At least nobody (in their right mind) can accuse you of “attacking” Marty just to support Hillary!
Beat me to it. Kerry likes being Secretary of State; part of his 2004 failure was that he didn’t seem nearly as enthusiastic about becoming Commander-in-Chief.
and he’s great at it too!
I’m sure he likes his current job. But it runs out in January 2017. If something happens to HRC I think he would jump in with both feet.
Completely OT, but some readers might be interested in this.
And you people think Hillary doesn’t have a fistful of media.
Next up, Whitewater Swiftboating Hero Jim Webb.
I disagree and think you deeply misunderstand the intense ego needed.
@srv: Because Obama loaned Hillary his time machine so she could go back and put David Simon on the beat in Baltimore.
I am happy that it’s going to Chicago instead of NYC. Hawaii would have been cool too.
@Belafon: With a pile of bodies behind her, one more in Balitmore wouldn’t be a problem.
You wait till that black helicopter spins up.
I give it a week before Alex Jones & Drudge figure that one out.
@Corner Stone: I think a big part of his 2004 campaign was that he thought he would be a good president (what senator doesn’t?) but he didn’t want it with the fire of a 1000 suns the way a successful candidate does.
He didn’t cook the books. They tried that argument in his re-election campaign as Mayor and his election as Governor. There was zero proof of it and the people pushing this nonsense ended up disgraced. But, the national media gave them a new platform to spew this bullshit on.
Luckily, some local reporters and national reporters are pushing back on this bullshit.
Well, not everything. Even he and his writers made up the adultery storyline and apologized to O’Malley because the GOP tried to smear him with it during the 2006 Governor’s race.
Simon definitely has an axe to grind with O’Malley in part because there were fights over money and getting permission to film The Wire in Baltimore. Lots of universities and other entities in Baltimore were pissed at the portrayal of the city in that show. Simon also doesn’t give enough weight to what the people of Baltimore wanted. O’Malley ran every election on tough crime policies and policing the police and he won overwhelming elections getting unheard of support from the AA voters. There was a huge waiting list for neighborhoods wanting more police involvement. Police shootings and excessive force complaints were down during O’Malley’s term. Funny how Simon never talks about that. He also never talks about how most of those arrests were for repeat offenders who were arrested over and over again for dealing drugs or violent acts./
Really? Cause I don’t see any links to back up your assertion. Pony up.:
Full metal Wingnut
Corner Stone-you’re an impressionable dum-dum who fell for the media lies hook line and sinker. Yes some people heckled O’Malley, as people always do with politicians. Plenty more cheering. It was oversold. You fucking dumbass
@feebog: She could always keep him. Why wouldn’t she? As long as he’s doing a good job. And she’s very well qualified to judge whether he is or isn’t: she’s done it herself!
Paul in KY
@Anne Laurie: Post away, girl!
Paul in KY
@feebog: I disagree. Sen. Kerry will never run again for President (IMO).
This was super obvious to the people in Baltimore who looked at Spotcrime and saw that something was reported as a burglary and looked out the window and saw the blood on the street. There was a shooting outside the wine store in my friend’s neighborhood just before she decided to move away, and this was her experience.
@Mike in NC:
Who did you miss???
Spiro Agnew (everyone always forgets Spiro. Poor Spiro)
Kathleen Kennedy Townshend who could be the stupidest politician I have ever met in real life (“I loved it when we made that football.”)
Going back aways there was Roger Taney who started as a Maryland pol but later wrote the Dredd Scott majority decision and concluded that blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
But then we did get Frederick Douglass and Kurt Schmoke, who wanted to legalize pot long before it was cool.
Davis X. Machina
@Villago Delenda Est:
Jeezus. That’s harsh.
Surely that’s enough?