Week in Review: Bad apples, Ray Lewis, predictive policing, more

Courtesy Facebook

• The third Baltimore Ceasefire weekend wrapped up last Sunday with no reported homicides. According to Baltimore City Police Spokesperson T.J. Smith, there were two non-fatal shootings during the ceasefire, but both victims are expected to survive. Erricka Bridgeford, one of the event’s most visible organizers (we interviewed her for our inaugural issue), has always maintained that her focus is not so much on the number of deaths, but more on linking communities and getting people actively involved in changing the city—but after what seems like nonstop bad news about Baltimore, this feels like a win. We’ll take it.

• Acting Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa says he’s looking into a report from The Baltimore Sun that some of the police recruits who graduated this past Saturday aren’t prepared to hit the streets. “We’re giving them a badge and a gun tomorrow, the right to take someone’s liberty, ultimately the right to take someone’s life if it calls for it, and they have not demonstrated they can meet [basic] constitutional and legal standards,” Sgt. Josh Rosenblat told the paper. De Sousa has touted his efforts to get more officers on the streets, but this adds more credence to the argument that overpolicing isn’t the answer to the city’s problems.

• Speaking of De Sousa, he hasn’t even been sworn in yet and he’s already leaning on the tired (and incorrectly used) metaphor utilized by all police apologists. He said that the revelations of gross misconduct brought to light during the trial of members of the Gun Trace Task Force are the work of “very few bad apples that spoil the entire barrel.” But if the whole barrel is spoiled, what are we even doing here?

• Mayor Catherine Pugh announced last week that she’d be launching a new initiative focused on helping black men and boys in the city. The Office of African American Male Engagement is set to start work on Feb. 12, with Andrey Bundley, up until now a safety director for Baltimore City Public Schools, at the helm. The mayor hasn’t said how much Bundley will be paid or how much money the office will need to operate.

• The mayor also announced that she is looking into a form of predictive policing that utilizes technology and statistics to stop crimes before they happen—a move that drew immediate comparisons from some to the 2002 Tom Cruise film “Minority Report.” Proponents of the technique point to its success in places like Chicago, where the number of shootings went down significantly. However, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have pointed out that for this to work, it basically calls on police to swarm certain areas—and those areas largely tend to be poor and black. That’s a problem.

• Congratulations are in order for former Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis, who was selected for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame just before the Super Bowl. The ceremony will be held Aug. 4 in Ohio. “I want to go fishing with a cigar now and just sit back. I don’t want to work out every day now,” Lewis said. He’s earned it.

• In a Twitter post on Feb. 1, Eric Allen Hatch confirmed he’d quit his position as director of programming at Maryland Film Festival and the Parkway Theatre. Since 2010 (after starting as an MdFF programmer in 2007), Hatch had overseen the film selections at the annual festival and year-round at the Parkway since it reopened last spring, and he along with his assembled team did that job exceedingly well, bringing to the big screen underappreciated gems unearthed from movie history, films by women and people of color rarely shown elsewhere, and special double features that really tapped into what this city needs (example: “Magic Mike” with “Magic Mike XXL”). On Twitter, Hatch said his decision to leave was “rooted in taking on an unsustainable work- and stress-load to ensure that the Parkway succeed that has proved very damaging to my physical and especially mental health, and simultaneously feeling drastically under-resourced and under-appreciated by other non-staff elements in the organization as I devoted my life to the Parkway project and trying to make it succeed on every level.” This is not an unfamiliar story for artists and folks in creative lines of work, which seems chronically undervalued. Here’s hoping Hatch keeps up his movie meme Twitter (@ericallenhatch), among the finest anywhere.

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