16 November 2015

They Have Learned Nothing, and They Have Forgotten Nothing*

We now have a report on the the police response that created the rioting in Baltimore.

It appears that excessively aggressive police actions, including when the police kettled large numbers of  students leaving high schools at the end of the day at Mondawmin in an misguided attempt at dick swinging, are not on the agenda:
As rioting erupted on Baltimore's streets in April, the city police Command Center — where top decision-makers had gathered to get a handle on the situation — was itself in disarray, according to a new review of the agency's response to the unrest.

In a room designed to hold 30 to 40 people, as many as 100 had gathered, some without a clear role. The crowding was so severe that the department's 10-person Analytical Intelligence Section, which was charged with developing information that could help the department deploy resources and anticipate threats, was blocked from its own equipment — and provided just two computers to do its work. The room was so loud the analysts could barely hear threat tips being relayed to them over the phone.

That environment, described as "chaotic" and "distracting" by some in the room, was just one of many "major shortcomings" in the Baltimore Police Department's handling of the unrest, according to a sweeping review by the Police Executive Research Forum, a highly regarded law enforcement think tank based in Washington.

The group's 79-page report, which then-Commissioner Anthony W. Batts requested this summer, is scheduled to be released publicly on Monday but was provided to The Baltimore Sun.

The report — titled "Lessons Learned from the 2015 Civil Unrest in Baltimore" — provides new critiques of key top-level decisions and details that bolster previous criticism. It also highlights continuing gaps in knowledge about how the worst of the rioting, looting and arson erupted, noting that reviewers were "unable to determine who issued the order to cancel bus service" at Mondawmin Mall on April 27 — a decision that left many students stranded in the area that day.

The report detailed a long list of "major findings," reflected in 56 recommendations for the Police Department to implement. It said planning was inadequate, arrest policies were unclear, equipment was severely lacking, officer training was inadequate, mutual aid agreements with other localities were insufficient or unclear, and orders to officers were not clearly defined. Command positions were also changed at times without notice, causing confusion, the report said.
This is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

They cannot find out who gave the order to kettle what were primarily students trying to get home because it was a relatively low level functionary who has gotten his friends to cover for him, and they are covering for him, because these officers believe that it is essential for them to be kept in their place.

They thought that they were justified in taunting a bunch of adolescent teens and confining them for no reason because they were "Uppity."

Unfortunately, this deeply toxic mindset is the rule, rather than the exception in policing in the United States.

You can find the full report here.

*This is frequently attributed to the French stateman Tallyrand, but he is not the source.


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