Archive for the ‘Crime’ category

Executing the Death Penalty

8 March 2013

Kudos to the Senate (and to the governor) for passing the bill to eliminate capital punishment in Maryland.  Now let’s see it get through the House of Delegates.

Only people with extraordinary faith in the wisdom and competence of governmental administration can believe that the state can carry out executions justly, fairly, and unerringly.   They also need to be blind to the evidence of horrible miscarriages of justice, and innocent lives wasted or taken.

Fortunately, I’m not tainted by such blind faith in the wisdom of the state.



Good News on the Law Enforcement Front

31 October 2012

The commander of the Drug Enforcement Section of the Montgomery County Police was quoted as saying that they are going to step down enforcement of marijuana laws on low-level users.

Better that they should cut out enforcement altogether, against buyers and sellers, but this at least represents a better value for the county’s taxpayers.

Youth Curfew is a Bad Idea

20 July 2011

County Executive Ike Leggett has proposed a nightly curfew for minors in MoCo. Those under 18 could be taken to the precinct if found on the streets between 11 pm and 5 am (12-5 on weekends). Fines and parenting classes could be imposed on mom and dad.

To be sure, kids don’t belong on the streets during those hours. But that is an issue for parents, not for the police. There are lots of problems with this proposal.

First, it is ridden with loopholes. Children are exempt if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, or if they are on an errand for parent or guardian, or going to or from work, or going to or from a school function or a religious function. It seems that it would be all too easy for children to evade the curfew.

Second, it is likely to be ineffective at reducing crime (its stated purpose). A study of a similar curfew in DC found that the curfew did not help reduce crime rates.

Most important, it is too random and broad for comfort. There are constitutional questions, issues of basic civil liberties (freedom of association, freedom of speech). County Executive Leggett says that it won’t be used except “where youth are exhibiting potentially dangerous behaviors.” Well, police can do that now – without needing this clumsy, overreaching, and invasive tool.

The county has a hard enough time doing the jobs it is supposed to be doing; it shouldn’t take on additional tasks that are intrusive and likely to be pointless.

Leviathan winning battles in Montgomery

16 May 2011

It seemed like it was time to keep an eye on Big Government in MoCo, which has been rolling forward lately.

First, the new bag tax.

Then, the (admittedly coerced) agreement to divert resources from crime to tracking immigrants.

And now, distressingly, more bad news from the education front.  Incoming schools superintendent Joshua Starr (who looks like a real loser so far), is adding to that initial impression.

Starr told the Gazette recently that he doesn’t see the need for any charter schools in Montgomery.  Charter schools, I shouldn’t need to note, are those which would be outside of Starr’s control.

Distracting the Police from Crime

19 January 2009

Our good friends at Help Save Maryland From People Who Look Different are at it again. Now they are seeking to implement racial profiling on a grand scale. They seek to divert police resources from rapes, murders, burglaries, and other actual crimes, to profile Hispanics as possible immigrants (gasp!). This is particularly idiotic at a time when violent crime in the county is on an uptick.

This isn’t the time to assuage the ravings of a few foaming xenophobes. Keep police resources focused on crime. The Prince George’s County Council passed a resolution in 2005, precluding the police from enforcing federal detainers for immigration warrants. MoCo should adopt that policy, too.

Calling Elliott Ness! Bring the Axes!

20 July 2008

The next time someone tries to tell you that the needs of the poor would overwhelm society unless government steps in, think of the good works of the Mechanicsville Lions Club, or the Little Flower School in Great Mills. If they tell you that government acts to correct the greedy selfishness of society, think of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department in Southern Maryland.

These charities, and several others, are supported by the voluntary donations from video gambling machines, especially in St. Mary’s County. As of this month, though, the state has shut them down. All this spring, law enforcement officials have been raiding bingo halls and fire stations, ripping out machines that the state has deemed unworthy. (At one point, they were deemed illegal, but a May decision by the Circuit Court overrode that bit of busybody smugness).

Let’s make clear what we are discussing here. Small stores and restaurants set up these machines. Customers use the machines for entertainment, just like pinball machines or PacMan. No one is being robbed, all transactions are voluntary. Some of the revenues go to the stores, and some goes to a variety of charities.

Perfectly innocuous, and with a good cause, to boot. Yet the General Assembly felt threatened, and decided to make the games illegal. (Not the state lottery of course; that gives the politicians money to play with). The anti-gambling forces, the holier-than-thous, who paternalistically insist that they should be in charge of other people’s recreation, squeezed the game machines from one side. And the pro-slot forces, flacking for the racetrack owners, were afraid that these machines might provide competition for the slot machines they hope to see installed at racetracks – they squeezed the game machines from the other side. (Hey, if you want to use slots, you have to do it at the racetracks, where the owners are paying the politicians to ensure they have a monopoly).

And the small businesses in St. Mary’s, and the charities and public services dependent on the revenues? And the simple folk who liked to play the games? Poor bastards. No one was looking out for them. No one stood in their corner. They never stood a chance.

Fighting Crime: Choices and Priorities

24 September 2007

The county divides crime into two categories. Here are the statistics for 2006:

Part 1 Crimes (more serious offenses) reported were up 5.4% over the previous year, including:

15 Murders

141 Rapes

1,166 Robberies

133 Aggravated Assaults

3,804 Burglaries

16,860 Cases of Larceny

2,493 Auto Thefts.

Part 2 Crimes reported were up 6.4% over the previous year, including:

5,428 Minor Assaults

245 Cases of Arson

6,864 Cases of Vandalism

Lots of work there to keep the police department busy. So when our not-so-friendly neighborhood xenophobes at Help Save Maryland requested that the police also take training on enforcing federal immigration law, Chief Manger turned them down.

That just sounds like good, solid prioritization of police resources to me. The training would take five weeks per officer, during which time they would be diverted from the murders, rapes, robberies, and other mayhem being committed by the real criminals. The logical result would be an increase in crime. I think Chief Manger is doing the smart thing. I also think we might need a movement to Help Save Maryland from Help Save Maryland.