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Baltimore Gun Task Force

Glenn Reynolds notes, “How many members of Bloomberg’s mayors-against-guns group wound up in jail?” in response to the news that there’s only one officer left standing after a bunch of federal indictments in the Baltimore Gun Trace Task Force.

My take? The US doesn’t culturally view such services as an important public good, so it is not a high status job in the mind of the public. If that’s the case, the people attracted to busting down doors for guns are those with bad incentives and attitudes. Bloomberg’s problem was that he self-selected a group of people that’s highly prone to graft and corruption, and the results were predictable.

10 Responses to “Baltimore Gun Task Force”

  1. Whetherman says:

    “…the people attracted to busting down doors for guns are those with bad incentives and attitudes.”

    Could that be generalized to, people attracted to busting down doors for any reason?

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t think the drug war has done much better for the integrity of law enforcement, so yes. Though, I’d say breaking down a door because a guy who robbed a grocery store was behind it and the warrants are all proper, that’s different than kicking down a door because the person inside might be growing weed.

      • Alpheus says:

        Oddly enough, it seems that SWAT Teams aren’t as likely to resort to breaking down doors when they believe someone they are about to arrest is *really* dangerous. Instead, they’ll resort to trickery — such as call the person, and have them come out to the street to pick up a package — and then arrest him when the guy comes out to pick up the package.

        Now, I’m sympathetic towards the concept of SWAT teams for what they were originally organized for — things like tense hostage situations — but such things are so rare, that I’m not entirely sure it’s justified to have SWAT teams in any place other than the largest cities. And above all, it’s *very rare* that they should be used to arrest people!

  2. dwb says:

    If you ever want a real laugh, check out the Baltimore City Police Facebook page for pictures of those evil confiscated guns. It is filled with old, beat up guns. Not a single assaulty-type gun. I am frankly surprised the manufacturers have not forced the pictures to be taken down – there are 300+ murders a year, and its pretty obvious Baltimore criminals dont need no fancy schmancy Glock gen 5 or Les Baer 1911. Seems like the rusty 1950s Harrington and Richardson .32 cal revolver gets it done.

    • Whetherman says:

      “Seems like the rusty 1950s Harrington and Richardson .32 cal revolver gets it done.”

      First I have to say that I personally doubt those are actual crime guns displayed, unless the crime was simple possession.

      But there is something to be said for a gun with no paper on it, that you will not hesitate to drop down a sewer.

      But it just occurred to me: Long ago I passed up an offer to buy a bunch of junk handguns for a nominal price. Later the seller told me a Philly cop had bought them all from him for something like $20. He couldn’t figure out why a cop would want them!

      Those are drop guns. Chances are no one actually used them in crime. The cops planted them on people to create crimes where there weren’t any — that is, if the cops didn’t shoot and kill the guys they planted them on.

      • dwb says:

        Possession of a gun by a felon is a crime. Perhaps “crime guns” or “simple possession” do not mean what you think it means.

        Yeah, The BPD has been reportedly caught on video planting evidence. There is so much crime in Baltimore, why they need to make it up I will never know.

        You forgot what I thought was the more obvious explanation: The corrupt police officers launder the guns to the gangs (maybe from pawn shops) and when they are confiscated re-launder them back to the gangs.

        Honestly, there are a surprisingly large number of old (“C&R”) guns in circulation. I bought a few for my collection for the simple reason is that they are cheap plinkers and who cares if they get dropped in the gravel. I have a few old H&R guns myself and they are surprisingly accurate plinkers. Statistically speaking over 60% of the murders in Baltimore are head shots.. and for that a cheap .22 or .32 H&R will do just fine.

      • Alpheus says:

        I remember Massad Ayoob mentioning in a self defense article that “drop guns” were a practical necessity back when neither the public nor the law would consider a shooting justified unless the person was armed…but two things have changed since that time:

        First, public understanding and the law now recognizes that if a reasonable person, based on what you know when you shoot someone, would have concluded that you were in danger for your life, then shooting that person is considered justified, even if that person turned out to be unarmed.

        Second, forensic evidence has gotten *really good* in the last few decades. Forensics can figure out when something was planted on a person, and planting something becomes a tantamount admission of guilt that’s *very* difficult to overcome in a court of law.

        I would add a third thing: people this day and age are getting a lot more suspicious of police officers. Having them get caught on video planting evidence isn’t exactly good for public relations! (And rightfully so, I might add!)

        • Publius says:

          Yeah, but who runs the forensic labs? Yeah, that’s right–the cops! Very few people can afford to have their own, independent investigations done–and I have no idea what the procedure is for getting their hands on the evidence anyway.

  3. harp1034 says:

    Det. Clewell is the only one not charged. He must know a lot and is singing like a song bird.

    • dantheserene says:

      I doubt anyone could be surrounded by that much dirt and not be aware of it, so an obvious question is why the one wasn’t charged. Was he the Serpico of the group? Did he sell out everyone else to save his skin?

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