Police Departments, Culture, and Behavior

While perusing FaceBook last week, I found a comment from a former Police Officer.

This man was trying to describe the difference between the Department that he knew (in Atlanta) and the evidence about the Police Department in Baltimore, as described by David Simon.

I respect the hell out of David Simon. But do remember that the Wire happened when cell phones were a new thing. So his information is pretty dated. Also, this is opinion: he doesn't have to present sources to his editor, there is no verification. 

f what he is saying is true about Baltimore, it explains a lot of the anger behind the protests. 

...that sort of violations of civil rights can't just happen on a systemic scale in Atlanta: you would be hard pressed to find it on an individual, officer scale... OPS is required to investigate ALL complaints against officers, regardless of how ridiculous they may be. ANY complaint of a use of force violation, regardless of whether or not it is ruled as groundless, holds up eligibility for promotion...

...[A]nother thing that Simon nails dead on is the giant problem of statistics/arrest based policing. He nails on the head the difference between the drug war and arrest/seizure numbers mentality, verse the best cop/property and personal crime mentality. Spend all week working on a burglary case, or write a bunch of traffic, vagrancy, and drug arrests. The latter is going to have the numbers to get promoted. 

This is mitigated somewhat by looking at crime rates on beats, which Atlanta does a good job doing...
One thing I've learned working in large corporations: working-groups, teams, departments, and entire corporations can have distinct personalities.

I've seen a multinational corporations in several types. One was careful, with well-thought-out communication as standard procedure. Responses were slow, but the response was usually complete and useful, or complete enough to bring about a much-better set of questions in response.

Another was less careful, valuing quick communication over carefully-composed communication.

If this lesson can be applied to policing agencies, it is that agencies in large cities have different personalities.

Apparently, the Police Department in Baltimore has a personality that is not very careful about the rights of the accused. And it likes generating statistics about arrests and tickets more than it likes measuring statistics about crimes reported in various areas.

Which leads to conclusions like this:
We shall see. But if nothing else, this article gives you an opinion point of view on why Baltimoreans are furious. And that is important for us to understand: Baltimore and Ferguson happened because of specific local histories that we often don't understand as outsiders. 
What's the solution?

I don't think an easy solution is possible. Unless the incentives and processes change inside the Baltimore PD, the troubles that they currently have will show up again, in one form or another.

And the local Police (in places like Atlanta, or Detroit) shouldn't be un-justly blamed for the crimes of Policemen from a different Department, dealing with different incentives and different local politics.

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