Let me begin with this Disclaimer: I am neither pro- nor anti-police. I know that police work is a difficult job, and that most men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve their communities do so with the intent to answer the higher call of public service—just like politicians, lawyers, teachers, and other professionals do. But as with any high calling, the expectations are great, and the consequences of failure are greater still.
In the world of Law and Order, this week has been a weird pastiche of the police dictum, “Protect and Serve.” Three seemingly disparate events in three different parts of the country have me in a tailspin. If these stories were the stuff of fiction, they would be ironically funny. But they really happened, and two of the three outcomes were devastating to the people involved.
Here in Baltimore, there was a horrific car chase on Sunday, November 1, initiated by Baltimore County Police in the Rosedale community, after a driver, now identified as Wayne Green, Jr., struck a car near the scene of a fatal accident. Green apparently fled the scene, and the County police—whose policies allow “car chases”—began said chase, continuing it into Baltimore City—which has a no-car-chase policy—to Moravia Road, where Green struck another vehicle, which was pushed into a curb, striking and later killing an innocent 16-month-old boy named Jeremiah Perry. The suspect, Green, was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma with minor injuries. By Monday, news reports cited a lack of timely communication and coordination between City and County police in the handling of the chase and, worse, over the custodial jurisdiction of the suspect, Wayne Green, Jr., with both agencies doing a bit of finger pointing at each other. This public posturing should have raised eyebrows.
On Wednesday, the story took a truly bizarre turn when it was revealed that on Monday, Green was discharged from Shock Trauma, with no charges having been filed and, therefore, no police custody while he was in hospital! Green was to be charged by the City with vehicular manslaughter in the death of little Jeremiah (because the death of the child in the City “trumped” the County vehicular and fleeing charges). Once again, both the City and County police—now joined by the State’s Attorney’s office—had egg on their faces and engaged in more pointless finger pointing. Meanwhile, the suspect is now three sheets to the wind, whereabouts unknown.
It comes as no surprise that Green has a prior vehicular/driving rap sheet. But it is appalling that in Baltimore City—home of the upcoming “Freddie Gray” trials, a new permanent Police Commissioner, Kevin Davis (who was appointed in the wake of the “Freddie Gray” riots), and a “rising star” State’s Attorney, Marilyn Mosby—such lapses of judgment and poor execution of duty continue to occur. Not only is the family of little Jeremiah Perry outraged, but so are many citizens of Baltimore (including myself), as well as various city politicians. How did this happen? Are our local police and other officials so inept and out of touch with each other that they could not keep tabs on this suspect for even 24 hours? So much for “protect and serve.”
Then, there’s the backlash by police department heads and organizations across the nation— including the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police—against the Hollywood film director Quentin Tarantino. These Blue Bloods want Tarantino’s head because he raised his voice and stood up for the Black Lives Matter movement…several months ago. And now, because he has a new movie coming out, the Blue Bloods are calling for a nationwide boycott of Tarantino’s latest movie.
How many of these people are likely to go to a Tarantino movie in the first place?
What Tarantino did was to call a spade a spade. There are far too many killings of unarmed black men, women, and children by police, too often under suspicious circumstances, in which case, the victims have been murdered, and the cops who killed them are murderers. And too often, they are getting away with it. In these cases, neither justice nor the people have been protected and served.
Finally, at the same time the faux outrage against Tarantino was going on, a police department in Illinois was announcing their findings in the death of one of their own. The beloved, decorated policeman and military veteran, “GI Joe” Joseph Gliniewicz, who was thought to have died a hero’s death in the line of duty and sparked a major manhunt for his killers, was found to have staged his own suicide to look like a murder by three imaginary suspects…all to cover up his own longstanding corruption. It appears that GI Joe had been embezzling funds from his Police Explorers Club, and rather than own up to it, he staged the ultimate suicide-by-cop death on himself.
On this matter, the police unions across the nation have been utterly silent.
3 thoughts on “Blue Bloods Are Called to Protect and Serve…But Whom?”
Excellent commentary, JO. Trenchant, fair, and balanced. Watch Elizabeth Embry. She’s the real deal.
Serving and protecting themselves, too often. One problem is lack of accountability. Unless there’s major public pressure, no one ever really gets fired or imprisoned. It just gets swept under the carpet, lost in the system. The unspoken message to cops – “Do what you want, we’ll take care of you”.
I just saw this past week the video of the Chicago (if my memory is correct) police gunning down the guy in the street at night. Reminded me of that other shooting about a year ago (St Louis or somewhere?) of the guy outside on the sidewalk. In both cases, the cops drove up, and shot to kill within 5 or 6 seconds of getting out of their cars. No serious attempt at talking, no shots to wound and slow down a suspect, just point and shoot. In the Chicago case, just one murder charge, no charges of any other cops for tampering with evidence or obstructing justice, even though it sounds like some of that occurred. No wonder so many people distrust the police.
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You are so right. And the stories just keep coming! To the point where I may have to add a “Police Blotter” column to my blog. There was another case in Virginia (from 2014) that just made the news in the last 2 weeks. I’ll be writing about that one—as well as the Chicago shooting and the just-starting Freddie Gray trials—soon.