In recent Baltimore news was the story of a plain-clothed Baltimore City police officer who was shot multiple times outside a downtown club after reportedly trying to break-up a fight. The officer, it is said, also shot a potential suspect in that nightclub violence before/while responding officers shot him in an apparent case of mistaken identity. Supposedly, there's an independent investigation pending to determine whether those really are the facts of the case. It is odd that a plain-clothed officer pulled a gun in a crowd of night-club patrons without making it overly obvious that he was police. I would say there is definitely something rotten in Denmark. But that, of course, is another story in itself.
For those who do not reside in our fair city, let's also expose the fact that the City Council has been wrestling with a budget deficit that nearly crippled city operations last year due to unexpected snow-removal expenses. We're probably not in the black yet as rumors of more taxes have been creeping into the headlines only to disappear before real information materializes. With that in mind, one would think that the City would be going after "easy cuts" - namely, foregoing costly traditions of years past and saving money in ways that least impact the residents. You'd think that - but then, you'd be wrong.
I thought about that as I sat in my car at the intersection of north bound Falls Road and Coldspring Avenue yesterday for about 45 minutes while a ridiculously-young-looking police office (or possibly Cadet) forbade my lane of traffic from making a left. A procession of hundreds of police vehicles from all over the state were making their way to the aforementioned officer's funeral and needed to make an unrestricted left from southbound Falls Road to Coldspring. I thought what you're probably thinking - 'Why couldn't you both make a left?' I have no idea. Everything I was taught in Traffic Engineering would suggest that that could have worked nicely but clearly, our young Cadet friend was not an engineer.
Instead of making the five o'clock news for getting out of my car and demanding that he see the reason of my mutual left-turn argument, I decided to pick up my hand-held cell phone (in a state with a "Hands-Free" Law) and voice my disgust using all of my favorite four-letter words to my roommate, who, as (bad)luck would have it, was stuck directly in front of me. I thought about all the money Baltimore City (and Baltimore, Wicomico, Dorchester, Anne Arundel, Howard, and Harford Counties) was spending to memorialize someone who may not have been doing what he was supposed to and who many probably did not know personally. I thought about how late I was going to be to a very important meeting.
I also couldn't help but think that it would've been a good day to rob a bank.
Now, I don't have a criminal record and getting my very own mugshot is not on my Bucket List. However, like anyone who's ever watched a bank-robber movie where the inept felons eventually get caught by a self-righteous civil servant, I know that if I did actually turn to a life of crime, I'd probably be pretty good at it. I like to plan, I'm relatively intelligent (thank you Vanderbilt, Mom and Dad), and have seen a lot of movies. Yesterday was the proverbial "cat's away" scenario - a perfect time to don a pair of mouse ears and get to work. It seems like a backhanded tribute to take all the police off the streets to celebrate the life of a man who is said to have lived to protect them.
And so, I have a suggestion for you, Charm City. While you still have the money to pay them (which won't be long at the rate YOU'RE going), please keep the police on the streets - policing. Honor a fallen police officer by making this city safer - something he died trying to do.
Or at the very least, please don't send Cadets to direct the traffic.