Baltimore, MD – This is long overdue and quite frankly a stall for time. A means to assuage the concerns of the public if you will. Deliberate action is the only way to get the more seasoned or hardened critics of the accepted norms to the table. Until then, everything else is a distraction. One such distraction is on display by the Baltimore Police Union and the city of Baltimore, home of the late Freddie Grey. (His killers got off scot-free by the way)
CBS Baltimore is reporting that the Baltimore police union is putting their officers on alert warning that lawsuit damages may start coming out of paychecks. It’s supposedly an idea that’s floating around the halls of city hall and has the police department on eggshells. According to the city solicitor however, there have been no changes to the law.
So what are they concerned about?
The Fraternal Order of Police fears that making cops financially liable for their screw ups will make them no longer want to be cops. A department already embroiled in its own shitstorm with Marilyn Mosby breathing down their necks, the cops, through the FOP, are demanding clarity about the idea being “kicked around upstairs.”
“The officers just want to know ‘hey does the city have my back?'” said the vice president of the Baltimore City FOP, Lt. Kenneth Butler. “This is a big concern, especially for being here 32 years, I never heard this before.”
According to the FOP, this fabled policy change which seems to never have made the docket is cause for concern. A concern the FOP has expressed to its cops claiming the change will have them paying their own lawsuits, such as a wrongful arrest case, malicious prosecution, and the ever popular excessive force.
“If the city doesn’t pay and by law they don’t have to, the officer will then be on the hook for that amount of money,” said attorney Michael Davey, the police union lawyer.
“Every law department in the state follows the same rules,” said City Solicitor Andre Davis. “There is absolutely nothing new here.”
Although there has been no changes to policy the FOP is touting the seemingly routine practice of the city to foot the bill in civil jury trials.
“While the law is the same, it’s now the interpretation and the practice of the city that has changed,” said Davey.
Davey claims there are five officers currently in limbo over punitive damages that Baltimore City have never appealed. Six months after the completion of the case, the officers are still in the dark about who’s picking up the check.
“I spoke to one of those officers and he was just informed that he cannot go to settlement on his new house this week because of this judgement that no one knows what the CIty is going to do with,” Davis said. “Officers need to know upfront where they stand and that’s our concern.”
While the city has dragged its feet claiming each case will be dealt with separately the FOP is asking for clarification on the interpretation of the law.
Those five officers are facing up to $40,000 in damages to be paid should the city decide not to shoulder the burden. That is what is sparking a warning among the Baltimore police force. Current officers are considering relocation in what could be a landmark shift in the tides for a department rife with questionable police practice.
The solicitor affirms that majority of the cases get settled so a discussion of punitive damages never comes up.
The idea of making officers more financially accountable while on the job is an idea that has been floating around for some time. One common reasoning that is made online is the comparison between professions and their insurance requirements while cops are pretty much no-strings-attached. The financial responsibility to act right is non-existent and most of the times these cops strut around believing they have carte blanche. Putting them on the hook would in many cases compulse the officer to act accordingly and be more rational out in the field. But for the time being, officers are getting paid vacations and the city is paying for it.
Now a little bloodshed every now and then is acceptable. One comes to understand that there needs to be a culling of the undesirables for the sake of population control (and quality control at that). But for officers to be out with such won ton exterminating who they deem pests with reckless abandon is unacceptable and can not be tolerated. To be a society that many parts of the world look to as the standard our policing has evolved at a much slower rate.
Maybe the alert will curb some of the pompous and crass behavior displayed by police. Maybe the officers are being briefed on the release of the warning and letting them know to feign alarm. No change is over the horizon however. This is just for show. The lack of action is still not a deliberate action therefore a stall, a distraction.
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