“Good cops don’t like to work with bad cops,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement, following the announcement last week that three of the seven officers indicted for racketeering in March, have been hit with additional charges by the U.S. Attorney.
“The vast majority of our agency is comprised of good cops,” Davis added.
The commissioner spoke about the character of “good cops” several months ago during an interview on First Edition. When I asked the commissioner could a good cop, really be a good cop if they know about misconduct by other officers and don’t do anything about it, Davis replied, “No.”
Let me repeat this (because I’ve said it countless times as host of First Edition), I believe the vast majority of the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department serve with honor and dignity, while doing one of the most arduous jobs in America, urban law enforcement.
Yet, the sordid details revealed in the additional charges against, Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, Detective Daniel Hersl and Detective Marcus Taylor, members of the, “Baltimore Seven” (as we’ve been referring to them on First Edition), are the essence of what a “bad cop” is. And those bad cops make the job of so-called good cops that much more difficult.
Take the case of Joe Crystal.
Crystal, now a former member of the BPD, witnessed two fellow cops beat down a drug suspect in 2011. Crystal, a good cop reported the actions of these two bad cops to the State’s Attorney’s Office and for doing so, was labeled a “rat cop.” And subsequently received the rat cop treatment, when someone placed a dead rat on Crystal’s windshield. Crystal ultimately filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against BPD and then Commissioner Anthony Batts. Ultimately, Crystal was awarded $42,000 by the Baltimore Board of Estimates in 2016.
So, despite the simplistic (but seemingly fundamental) admonition from Commissioner Davis that good cops report misconduct by their brothers and sisters in blue, it’s probably vastly more expedient for them to simply look the other way. Because, who wants to go through what Crystal went through?
But, unfortunately the culture of expediency within the BPD probably allowed the Baltimore Seven to run the streets like a pack of wild dogs, until they got popped by the Feds.
Perhaps the most made for celluloid moments gleaned from the new charges filed last week, took place in the spring of 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Jenkins (under the false guise of a DEA agent) allegedly stole 20 pounds of “high-quality” weed from a drug dealer at the Belvedere Towers in North Baltimore. Jenkins then drove Taylor and a co-defendant to a wooded area near Northern Parkway and chopped up the money, giving his two buddies $5,000 a piece. Then Jenkins allegedly traveled to a Baltimore County gentleman’s club where he subsequently robbed an exotic dancer.
Ever since the grimy specifics of the new charges against Jenkins, Hersl and Taylor were made public, of course I’ve had a ton of questions. But, the question that is most visceral for me, on a street level is reserved for Jenkins.
Why did Gentleman Jenkins go to a strip club (after he had robbed the drug dealer), presumably with 10 g’s in his pocket (although there is a strong possibility his pockets were a few hundred dollars lighter after some time in VIP) and rob a stripper?
Who the hell are these guys?
Last week, Mayor Catherine Pugh met with Governor Larry Hogan and discussed ways the state can help Baltimore combat violence. “We’re open to any kind of possible solutions that anyone wants to talk about,” said Hogan at a news conference, who also argued the state had already spent, “a tremendous amount of money,” on law enforcement in Baltimore.
Maybe part of the solution is the city’s recruitment of potential members of the Baltimore Police Department, the milieu of the Baltimore Seven and their ilk.
Who are these men, where did they come from and how did they make it into the BPD? But, perhaps the most important question is, how do you effectively weed them, and others like them, out of the department? It seems like a prodigious task.
But, the mostly Black, mostly poor neighborhoods of our city can’t afford to be “taxed” again by another BPD crew like the Baltimore Seven. The cost is way too high.
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore editor and host and executive producer of First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5 p.m. -7 p.m. on WEAA, 88.9.