www.citypaper.com/news/themail/bcp-the-mail-71614-20140717,0,5561177.story

citypaper.com

The Mail 7/16/14

4:41 PM EDT, July 17, 2014

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Not happy

I recently viewed your “Trigger Happy” parody of the Baltimore Police Department’s 50,000 follower “Happy” video (“‘Trigger Happy’: The video the BPD should have made,” The News Hole, July 8). To say I felt shock and awe at how truly disrespectful and mean-spirited your portrayal of BPD officers would be an understatement.  With such an inflammatory, confrontational production, you went from valued watchdogs to instantaneous tabloid status.

You state that the BPD has “. . . a long and recent record of shooting unarmed suspects, fellow officers and even themselves.” All the incidents are tragic, whatever the circumstance, but simply making the statement without substantiating facts is extremely reckless and again, needlessly inflammatory. By your apparent reasoning, an unarmed suspect cannot present a threat to an officer’s life? Clearly you’ve never attempted to effect an arrest on an intoxicated, high, or mentally unstable individual. Such was the case in the situation you depict regarding the police-involved shooting in West Baltimore. A knife-wielding, deranged man chased a young female officer around her car before she shot him. What should her course of action been?  Tazer? Didn’t have one to my understanding. If she did, should it be deployed? If it missed or was ineffective, is her own life at risk? Likewise the video mentions a shooting of an individual armed with a pellet gun. I assume the officer should have waited to get shot to determine if it was real? There is a very simple, extremely effective method that can be used not to get shot by police. Don’t display a real or pretend knife, gun or other weapon, and if you do, don’t come at them with it.

The video segment that starts and ends the video parody is equally disturbing and misleading. You don’t need to punch an officer to become subject to force. That is why it is called resisting arrest. Failure to allow yourself to become handcuffed, turn around, or any number of actions are seriously threatening to the officer and require use of force. How could the situation have ended immediately with all persons involved unharmed? The arrestee could have simply stopped resisting. Think what the officers did was wrong, outside their scope or unjust? As our Supreme Court said, you address it at a later time and place, not resisting as you are being arrested (at least not physical “protest”).

The job of policing in Baltimore City is a difficult one, wrought with long hours, low pay, inadequate equipment and at time dangerous working conditions. That said, the vast majority of officers in the millions, yes, millions of interactions with citizens that take place yearly, are professional and courteous. You choose to focus on the precious few negative ones. Think your video aided a better working relationship between citizens and police or furthered the divide?

Not one hard-working, dedicated officer supports or is proud of brethren who cross the line, as some depicted in the video appeared to have (i.e., the dog incident). However, I urge the City Paper to follow their own advice, as mentioned at the start of the video. Leave the assessment of the Baltimore City Police officers’ occasional criminal transgressions to the professionals within the criminal justice system. You lost many a reader as a result of not doing so, the video’s half-hearted attempt at a disclaimer to good cops notwithstanding.

Jo Brown

Baltimore