Michael A. Wood Jr.
COMMANDING CULTURE
In policing, the greatest enemy comes from within: command staff. The commanders in policing drive the oppression of police and citizens…
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To the People of Chicago – Police Reform

People of Chicago, I swear to serve you, just say the word…

Cover Letter, Resume, & Essay Questions for Chicago PD

Please read through. Even if just to discuss the ideas.

The application does say that: In addition to listing references, you may have up to four (4) letters of recommendation submitted on your behalf. If you choose to request such letters, they should be from individuals who know you well (the individuals need not be the same as those on your list of references). The letters must be sent by the writer directly to the office of the Police Board. (4) letters of recommendation can be received. I prefer they come from the public, not who I pick and choose.

Max A. Caproni, Executive Director
Chicago Police Board
30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 1220
Chicago, IL 60602

Application Instructions

Respectfully,

Michael A. Wood Jr.

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In The News

Michael A. Wood Jr’s 2nd appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast

On June 13, 2016, Michael A. Wood Jr made his 2nd appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast

Days after the Orlando mass shooting, Joe & Michael begin their conversation by discussing what steps should be taken to curb the growing gun violence in America…

Other topics include: Prison Reform in America; the NRA & what the 2nd Amendment really means; Michael’s ‘best night as a cop’; Michael’s life-changing experiences working w/ Baltimore’s inner city social activists; Stefanie DeLuca’s ground-breaking study: ‘Why Do Some Poor Kids Thrive?‘; the continuing failure of The Drug War; and Michael’s involvement w/ Radio Revolver, a Baltimore-based, community-oriented podcast network that hopes to be an ‘umbrella for activists, educators, artists, youth, and more to have the resources to launch their message.’

Micheal will be hosting the flagship podcast, “Misconduct: The Death of Freddie Gray,” so please help support the initiative.

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If you missed Michael A. Wood Jr’s original appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast please click here.

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Blogs & Writings

My Take on “Safe Spaces”

I have heard plenty about “safe spaces” lately, as many of us have. What seems to always lack is a fundamental understanding of what a “safe space” is and why they are needed. Granted, this explanation is heavily directed towards protesting. The expression of why was famously demonstrated by my brother, Kwame Rose, when he confronted Geraldo Rivera on television during the Baltimore uprising. What Kwame was expressing is this frustration in grassroots activism where media comes from all over when something sensational happens, but they come to tell their story, not the story of what is really going on or even why these events are going on. They come and they take snippets of what we say and twist the context to fit their narrative, their agenda, and far too often their agenda, involves words like thug, “black-on-black” crime, bootstraps, children of addict parents, and much more. They loop the CVS burning, never asking why. They loop the outliers, so infuriated with oppression that they lash out, but they never ask why. They never follow-up, they never ask Kwame why he is there, instead they tell you why he is there and ask why he does not go home.

Sometimes this happens with the best of intentions as well. I assure you that what you see of me in Fixing the System with VICE on HBO, #BlackLivesMatter documentary, and many other appearances, do not tell the full narrative, do not capture the complete nuance, and (hopefully) were not the smartest things I said those days. What is missing, can be told by the Baltimore uprising. During the cleanup of the uprising, a friend of mine was in town from Dallas, David Smalley, who hosts a podcast called Dogma Debate. After talking about the movement, I took David down to Penn North to see. What David saw was a community united. White, black, young, old, gay, queer, straight, educated, uneducated, and more. There was music, cookouts, songs, dancing, and a feeling of hope that you could taste in the air. David was shocked because all he heard was those media presentations from his home in Dallas.

David was almost jovial that we had to tell this on his podcast and we did, long before that media sensationalism brought my name to your ears. So what is a safe space then? A safe space is a facet of an attempt to control the narrative of the movement, so that what is really going on is told. A sister in the movement, Makayla Gilliam-Price, started a different facet, organizing and publishing independently, which you can see is about “controlling our narrative.” A safe space is demanding the respect of those around to not come in to a designated area where comrades are free to relax a little and converse without something being taken out of context and made a national headline. While we can argue about that being the best response, remember that those who did not understand what it was, is simply because you did not bother to ask. If you are demanding the truth from your media, this would not be a thing. As you complain about safe spaces, I find it ironic that it is only because you failed to take the bare minimum of journalistic integrity, asking the people in the safe spaces what it means. I do not know if I agree with them or not, but I care enough to understand why and respect it.

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Blogs & Writings

Police Culture: A quick idea during an assignment

The concept of culture within an organization draws international headlines when it comes to American policing. The culture of policing has been heavily criticized. Culture is hard to define. From a certain logical perspective, thought is not tangible, it is a construction, like the idea of society, and to that extent, the organization itself can be validly argued to be a societal construct, a cultural phenomenon (Morgan, 2006, p. 116). The intangible construction of the organization is heavily influenced, maybe symbiotically, by the intangible culture within. Though, intangible, this culture is embedded in what the professions that make up the organization do. American police, police people, or more accurately, enforce laws. What they do is police and enforce and often, in contemporary culture, people identify themselves with their organization and their occupations. This occurrence demonstrates that cultural influence within the profession can very likely change the very cultural identity of the workers (Morgan, 2006). Currently, the culture of policing has changed the identity of the human holding the badge, but the symbiotic nature indicates that the human holding the badge can change the culture of policing.

In evaluating the culture of policing, on the surface, it appears to be united. Most agencies have words, mottos, formalities, and such. These common cohesion building tools, such as the establishment of a company philosophy, mission statement, or similar such creedos can help establish an inter-system culture if integrated and reinforced (Morgan, 2006, p. 120). What is missing is the integration and reinforcement which cannot be fully isolated from the environment in which the organization functions. In the United States, a competitive spirit proliferates the culture and focuses on winners and losers in popular discussion (Morgan, 2006, p. 122). This categorizing of the successful in-group and the unsuccessful out-group, was so common in Baltimore criminal justice that it was never an issue, it just was it they way it was. What gets measured is what gets done and the winners and losers are chosen by those metrics established by the organization as a whole and the subgroups.

Essentially, what ends up happening is that the institution becomes the culture, while the culture builds the institution (Kundu, 2010, p. 55). The cultural subgroups in policing extend far and wide. Federal, state, or local, urban, suburban, or rural and more, and these have further subgroups. K9, SWAT, narcotics, patrol, traffic, vice, and all of the various specializations and more. The specializations have subgroups within themselves. For example, narcotics has undercover work, street enforcement, major cases, and interdiction. When the values of subgroups are very different, a mosaic culture can form which overwhelms the corporate culture (Morgan, 2006, pp. 132-133). This is especially true within policing. These separated groups can develop into group mentalities that can isolate the groups from one another, as well as from other organizations. It is often the group most similar to the hosting culture, but when power collects and a minority frames the culture, that minority can control the tone of the culture and this is a management failure (Morgan, 2006, pp. 128-129). The critical element of where power collects is found back in those metrics of winners and losers. Those metrics for winners are arrests. Just arrests, not convictions, not justice, not quality investigation, not protecting and serving, just arrests.

When the power is collected by those who just enforce and arrest, then the culture is dominated by this subgroup and this subgroup is incentivized by the metric, to get arrests the quickest and easiest way. The quick and easy methods involve shortcuts, lies, civil rights violations, and when these transgressions become the new normal a strict adherence to a code of silence is culturally encouraged. Maybe it is because the reality of how culture influences the fabric of organizations has long been undervalued (Schein, 1996) that the progression towards power collection, greed, and privilege, as a natural product of the American environment, slipped by management and was magnified by the inherent power of law enforcement. The path to hell may have been paved by good intentions, but that does nothing to change the result of current police culture. This culture must change. A few general guidelines have been noted in regards to implementing cultural change. Those guidelines include, firmly grasping the scope of change needed, that leaders must fully become the change to guide and cultivate it, approach from as many angles as possible, integrate key personnel in developing the change, and vigorously manage and reassess (Levin & Gottlieb, 2009). The scholars of management, leadership, and psychology have provided the framework for organizational culture reform, it is now up to the leaders in American policing to do just that. As it stands, firmly grasping the scope of needed change is the current state of affairs, in 2015, but with the proper research, denial can be shed and fighting that denial is the first priority for fixing the culture of American policing.

Respectfully,

Michael A. Wood Jr.

Levin, I., & Gottlieb, J. Z. (2009). Realigning organization culture for optimal performance: Six principles & eight practices. Organization Development Journal, 27(4), 31-46.

Morgan, G. (2006). Images of Organization. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.

Schein, E. H. (1996). Culture: The missing concept in organization studies. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(2), 229-240.

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In The News

Serial Dynasty #FreeAdnan Ep. 24: Interview with Michael A. Wood, Jr.

The soon to be Truth and Justice Podcast (but currently Serial Dynasty with Bob Ruff) interview.

In this episode, Bob interviews former Baltimore PD Detective, Michael A. Wood, Jr. Michael talks about the incentives that drive detectives to close cases, come Hell or high water. The episode also includes the reveal of new information, in the “Don investigation.”

Find Bob online and follow.

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Blogs & Writings In The News

What Resides in Dark Corners (a response to a letter from the Baltimore Police Department)

Kevin Davis,

I am often perplexed at exactly what to do about bringing reform to policing. It seems as though it has been quite a long time that the obvious issues surrounding policing have been brought to the forefront and I cannot think of anything significant which has changed. It has been a long time since Freddie Gray met the indifference of police culture toward citizen life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet, nothing in Baltimore has changed. Arguably, it has become worse. The focus, for me, has been in revolution as opposed to retribution, so I have not named those in the past. That choice is very open to criticism. It cannot be said that I am entirely convinced that tactic is the best path forward.

What I am convinced of, is that this tactic has provided a curtain for which the commanders of the Baltimore Police Department can hide behind. This brings us to this correspondence sent to me dated September 11, 2015. Do not think that we cannot see the subtle jabs of not using my rank. Do not think that we cannot see the laziness and lack of professionalism in misspelling my name, removing the “interim” from police commissioner, atrocious grammar, and calling the agency by its wrong name (it is the Baltimore Police Department, not the Baltimore City Police Department maybe you guys would know that if you cared). Do not think that we do not find it ridiculous that “direct result” is three months later. Do not think that we do not see through the insincerity of the words contained in this letter.

I find it preposterous that if you cared, you would not pick up a phone, you would not speak to me at a protest, that you would not expect me to conform to your time frame and location. You know where I live. You know I seek a public and transparent forum. It is in the desire for transparency that you hide. I do not seek closed door meetings and you have used that to pretend to care. You stand in the safety of your building and ask me to come inside, as if there is some hope of justice under that roof. The problem is that I have worked under that roof, I know that it is a black hole from which the truth never escapes.

How do I get you and your agency into the light? I do it by doing the opposite of what the Baltimore Police Department does. You are not alone in your actions, as policing in America loves to put the responsibility of doing the “right thing” on the community. So now, let us put the responsibility of doing the “right thing” on the people who are actually sworn to do the right thing. Yes, there is one thing I have refused to do and that is to name, names. I still think that retribution is the wrong approach because it is the people in command who set the system up and push officers into this mentality. It is once again shedding leadership, making a mockery of the word, and that does not seem to matter to you. I have left one corner dark. I think that corner should be left dark, but since you have chosen to hide in it, I am left with no choice.

I know you can search the complaints and internal reports and most likely piece this stuff together, but let us play along and pretend you cannot. Here is what I will do. I will provide the details, including names, of my first two reports back in June 2015. The detective who slapped the innocent lady (although you probably already have a complaint on file corresponding to that allegation) and the officer who kicked the handcuffed suspect (who went to the hospital and would be incredibly easy to find) are these two incidents. Together, we can shed light into that remaining dark corner. It is this light that we can bring about reform and public trust. I will participate 100% in these investigations, but first, we shed the light, first we serve the public’s interest. The price for what you say you want is free. An open and honest conversation between Kevin Davis and me for one hour, live, no commercials, unedited, uploaded to YouTube, and without distribution or use limitations.

Michael A. Wood Jr.

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Note: Please feel free to repost/reprint

Related: An interview with the Baltimore cop who’s revealing all the horrible things he saw on the job

 

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In The News

Michael A. Wood Jr’s appearance on VICE’s documentary ‘Fixing The System’

VICE’s documentary, Fixing the System, investigates America’s broken criminal justice system.

Fixing The System is a powerful Shane Smith documentary that digs deep into America’s incarceration problem… The following video contains the full Michael A Wood Jr interview segment from the film.

The documentary debuted on Sunday, Sep, 27, 2015,  on HBO and is available to US viewers to stream online for free until Oct 12. *For non-US viewers, you can watch the full documentary here.

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Events

Michael A. Wood Jr’s Reddit AMA: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition … Why cops want to legalize drugs

redditAMA

On Wednesday, September 23, 2015, Michael gave a REDDIT AMA as a representative for LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) .. he fielded questions about why a lot of cops are calling for an end to the failed ‘Drug War’…

You can see the FULL AMA here

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In The News

Michael A. Wood Jr’s Interview w/ North Avenue Podcast

Episode 47  Michael A. Wood Jr. — North Avenue Podcast

Michael sat down w/ the guys at North Avenue Podcast for a long conversation about current policing issues & solutions that need to be implemented…

Michael A. Wood Jr. is a LEAP speaker, Ph. D. candidate, retired Baltimore City police officer, and veteran of the US Marine Corps. He is a proponent of a new era of policing, and talks to us about his experiences while in the force, how he’s evolved, and what it takes to make actual change in the United States.  North Avenue Podcast

Listen to Full Interview

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In The News

Michael A. Wood Jr’s interview on ‘Off The Grid w/ Jesse Ventura’ …

Retired Baltimore police officer Michael A. Wood Jr. spent eleven years on the police force.He joins Jesse Ventura in this special edition of Off The Grid and reveals the misconduct and corruption he witnessed on a daily basis among the police force. OFF THE GRID

 

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