Wandering Eye: 'Reverse sting' operations, more fraternities behaving badly, and Maryland cops on Ferguson

The Los Angeles Times' story about California judges ruling against federal law enforcers' tactic of luring criminals into "reverse sting" armed-robbery schemes, featuring fictitious stash houses, fictitious drugs, and fictitious victims, puts the controversial strategy back in the spotlight. Of the reverse stings, one judge wrote in an opinion dismissing a case: "But for the undercover agent's imagination in this case there would be no crime." The strategy has been effective in Maryland, with agents using it to convict alleged members of the Black Guerrilla Family gang, despite compelling arguments against its fundamental fairness. (Van Smith)


Another day, another story of fraternities behaving badly. The Sun's Carrie Wells has gone through Public Information Act records for the 12 public universities in Maryland and found some pretty terrible things about fraternities. Her in-depth story on hazing at fraternities, published this weekend, relays stories of the physical and verbal abuse that men will inflict in the interests of "brotherhood": "Among the allegations contained in university disciplinary records: A University of Maryland, College Park student was ordered to punch a wooden board until he saw blood—and broke bones in his hand. A freshman on the sailing team at St. Mary's College of Maryland passed out during a drinking game and woke up in a hospital room with 'IVs in both arms.' A pledge at a fraternity chapter at Towson was hospitalized for two days after being directed to drink a gallon of milk, which can cause digestive problems." And she wrote another article about the now-suspended Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at UMBC, which hosted a gross-sounding "Ladies Appreciation Night," in which they "allegedly invited women to a darkened basement on campus, blindfolded them at the door, seated them in chairs, then kissed and touched them in a sexual manner." Remind us, why are these orgs still allowed on campuses? (Anna Walsh)


After last night's protests in Ferguson, those interested in the police chiefs' perspective could do worse than perusing the Advanced Leadership Consortium's slide show released Sept. 23. In it, Maryland chiefs and commissioners, including Baltimore City's former Commissioner Fred Bealefeld, discuss how police might restore trust in the community, which they admit has broken down in Ferguson. "This breakdown had manifested itself over numerous years and was rooted in the style of policing and tactics repeatedly demonstrated by the police department," the report says. So: No one, not even the police, disagree that police have become too militarized and rigid—at least in Ferguson, Missouri. Not that the Maryland chiefs would give up all of their military equipment: "There was consensus among the police executives that police departments do have a legitimate need for specialized military-style equipment but there should be clear expectation and understanding on their use." Clear to whom? In conclusion, the report says that events in Ferguson "provide a unique opportunity for police executives and communities to begin conversations about legitimacy and trust." Talk among yourselves. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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