WEDNESDAY, MAY 13th, in a startlingly candid 3-hour radio interview on Dogma Debate with David Smalley, Retired Baltimore Police Sergeant Michael A. Wood Jr exposed the Baltimore Police Department. He cited on-going mismanagement, in which police officers were ordered by superiors to break policy, and additionally noted that some officers risked their jobs by standing up to senior management in refusal.
“BPD started the Baltimore riots.”
Sgt. Wood detailed examples of intentional police brutality, saying that handcuffed suspects are “roughed Retired Baltimore Officer Reveals Shocking Details of Police Failuresup” for officers to take the arrests from other officers. He blamed the city itself for starting the riots. He said they shut down the bus system, didn’t let high school kids go home after school, and then surrounded them with police in riot gear.
Wood continued to say that the headlines we have seen recently in Baltimore; unarmed black teenagers shot in the back and killed, people dying in police custody, and suspects brutally assaulted, shows how police officers are callously disregarding the lives and safety of ordinary citizens. Not only are these recent problems, they have been going on for decades and decades.
Wood’s criticism of the BPD, along with his thoughts about institutionalized racism and corruption of American policing can be heard in the full radio interview here: http://www.spreaker.com/user/smalleyandhyso/183-ex-baltimore-police-officer.
“Justice is the best riot control.”
According to Wood, a staggering number of BPD officers have been arrested in the last ten years, and delineated a litany of events: how BPD started the Baltimore riots, how nothing about the Freddie Gray incident was a legal arrest, how the last person to die in police custody (in the back of a wagon) was awarded $7.4M, but Baltimore only had to pay $219,000 due to a lawsuit cap.
Wood further revealed that many current and former police officers have attempted to break ranks and expose what goes on behind the blue wall of silence. He decided to make that finally happen on this radio show, and that’s why he decided to join David Smalley and Alix Jules for an open and honest discussion in which he delves into the very fabric of police culture and systemic problems.
The Freddie Gray incident brought to the national spotlight the institutionalized racism, policy breaking, undertraining, no-snitching mentality, lack of professionalism, and ‘us’ versus ‘them’ worldview that the sergeant had been trying to fight for years from within the Baltimore PD. Wood told SNN, “maybe justice is the best riot control.”
Freddie Gray died, and he is still considered just a “them.”
Wood said that at first first it felt like a natural progression. Starting as a special operations sergeant in the Marine Corps and ending as a police officer in Baltimore. Both jobs were about participating in war zones and fighting “the enemy.” Sgt Wood bought into the thin blue line of the policing culture, and was a rising star in the PD. He quickly became a detective in the violent crime division. He was selected to be the youngest member of a major case squad and was promoted to supervision where he was assigned to patrol the rough streets of east Baltimore.
The change for Wood started when he participated in what he now refers to as “the failed drug war” and witnessed how the system traps people into a cycle of involvement within the criminal justice system. He told SNN, “It’s is not just police who are participating in the culture.”
Wood believes that “The culture of the nation must change.”
“The question is never asked; why not just follow the law instead of rebelling against the red coats? Why are they destroying their own tea? They will see the looting but they will not see that some are taking diapers and toothbrushes. They will justify the shooting of Tamir Rice, but will not see that there is no chance that my blonde hair, blue eyed daughter would ever be killed by a cop under the same circumstances. They will justify their actions, but will not admit that if the influential attorney violates the curfew wearing an F the police shirt, there is no way he will be pepper sprayed and thrown to the ground by his hair. They never ask if those are the type of actions they want the cops in their neighborhood taking.”
Wood says the Freddie Gray case sums up what he has been seeing for decades:
“The officers don’t see it as being so egregious, because people like Freddie Gray are so ingrained as ‘thems.’ The concept that in America, chasing a poor black man for suspicion of participating in an obviously failed drug war (there’s that war mentality again), stopping his free flow of movement, searching through his personal space, rooting through his pockets, looking down his pants (because we do that), cuffing his hands in shackles, dragging him into a small metal box to be thrashed around the pot hole filled streets for a half an hour or so, ignore his repeated pleas for medical assistance, stop to lay him flat in the metal box and shackle his ankles in addition to his hands, and then in the best case scenario, he will sit like a penned animal and feed slop for a few days, have to post bail and make court appearances, all for a case which will be dismissed.”
But, in this case, Freddie Gray died, and he is still considered just a “them.”
Finally, Wood wonders, “Even if the police feel as though they did nothing wrong. How many residents were arrested in the white neighborhoods with spring assisted pocket knives? How many construction workers? How many cops (who carry them all the time, we used to collect knives, had a box of them, just to collect them)? How many visitors to the city? How many politicians? I have a suspicion that the number is right around zero.”
This discussion is extensive and maybe it is just starting. As Wood ponders if perhaps the most important thing is, what can be done to change the culture.
On this week’s Dogma Debate, Sgt. Wood, along with host David Smalley and guest Alix Jules, discussed with a great deal of startling honesty; why police react the way they do, how they respond to fear, what motivates them, how the Baltimore protests are really positive, the legality of the Freddie Gray arrest, and the response of Baltimore’s leaders such as Marilyn Mosby.
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