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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