Patterico's Pontifications

5/21/2008

Radley Balko: Does He Follow His Own Links?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:27 pm



Radley Balko:

D.C. Police Chief Kathy Lanier rehires 17 police officers previously fired for misconduct.

Then she decides the city will arm them with semiautomatic weapons.

Sounds like a fantastic couple of ideas. What could possibly go wrong?

Boy, D.C. Police chief Kathy Lanier sure sounds like an idiot.

That is, until you actually follow Balko’s links. (Note: always follow Balko’s links.)

Following the first link, we quickly find that Police Chief Lanier’s “idea” to rehire previously fired officers is hardly an “idea,” but rather a legal necessity — one forced on her by the incompetence of the previous chief:

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has rehired 17 officers who were fired for misconduct, saying she was forced to bring most of them back because the department missed critical deadlines for taking action.

. . . .

[I]n the most recent cases, police officials once again violated timetables in internal affairs cases. As a result, the firings were overruled by judges in D.C. Superior Court or by arbitrators ruling for the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board.

Lanier, who took over the department in December 2006, said that the slip-ups predated her administration and that she had no choice but to bring the officers back — almost always with full back pay, benefits and seniority.

As for the idea of “arm[ing] them with semiautomatic weapons” — well, this is hardly a new idea, or an unprecedented one. The second link explains that D.C. officers have been armed with “semiautomatic weapons” since the late 1980s. To those who know nothing about guns, the phrase “semiautomatic weapons” may sound very frightening, but in truth, police officers typically carry semiautomatic pistols, having mostly abandoned revolvers years ago. Semiautomatic generally means you pull the trigger once each time you want to fire a bullet.

What’s news is not that D.C. officers are getting “semiautomatic weapons” but that they are getting semiautomatic rifles. The Assistant Chief says they typically won’t be carried on patrol: “I wouldn’t expect to see foot beat officers with them unless there’s a specific need, like a barricade situation or a bank robbery.” But police already often carry rifles in mounts in their police cars. Having those rifles be semiautomatic hardly strikes me as an innovation that ought to send shivers down libertarians’ spines. In fact, these rifles are fairly common throughout the country:

Other police departments nationwide equip officers with semiautomatic rifles, including in Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami. In some of the District’s neighboring counties, such as Montgomery and Prince George’s, some patrol officers carry the weapons.

Is there a need for the rifles? The story says: “A team of commando-style robbers carried out a string of bank heists in the District and Maryland in 2004, armed with assault rifles and handguns.” Meanwhile, virtually every L.A. resident remembers the North Hollywood bank robbers who went around in body armor, armed with fully automatic weaponry. The police were helpless to do anything because they were so badly outgunned. No police department wants to be in that situation.

Once the links are followed, we see a police chief a) taking appropriate steps to see that her officers are adequately armed; and b) being forced to hire back some dishonest officers due to the incompetence of a predecessor. The latter issue is a problem, I agree — but it’s patently unfair to blame the new police chief, or to suggest that this is all some “idea” she had.

Balko owes Chief Lanier an apology or two. I’m sure she’s turning blue, holding her breath as she waits.

68 Responses to “Radley Balko: Does He Follow His Own Links?”

  1. Is Cathy Lanier still throwing her officers under the bus? Like she did after two of her officers shot some s-bag after the s-bag shot at them? She stood in the background during a press conference while the Mayor announced he would paying for the s-bag’s funeral.

    Is she still referring to criminal street gangs as “crews”?

    Timothy Watson (2d1d06)

  2. The sad part was his readers (with a few exceptions) lapped it up.

    Patrick (a8c3ea)

  3. GIGO!
    The media fed garbage into Radley, and he spewed it back out. The original reports contained so many hot-button, pejorative terms such as the aforementioned “semi-automatic” weapons, that I would be surprised anyone came away with a positive, or accurate, view of this story.
    And, the fact that the current Chief is forced to rehire these officers due to the incompetence of the previous chief and his minions, is just frosting on the cake of DC.
    This is not Reagan’s Shining City on the Hill!

    Another Drew (758608)

  4. He’s allowed his knee to jerk without a conscious thought, and blog posts like that result.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  5. You would think that police officers are hired “at-will”, or at least can be fired for cause without a lot of “due process,” It really is a different thing than being a file clerk. Perhaps they can simply be put on unarmed traffic duty or something. But there’s really no excuse for crooked officers going back out as armed authorities just because someone “forgot” to sign some forms.

    Just imagine what happens if they are involved in, say, a wrong-house warrant or a dubious shooting. The plaintiff’s attorney will have a field day and the city’s defense of “we knew they were [crooked/incompetent/jerks] but there was nothing we could do” will probably not sway the jury in the the desired direction.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  6. This is a comically lame attempt to smear Balco.

    Classic sophistry.

    Balko never said that the chief decided to rehire the cops. He just said that she did rehire the cops with no comment as to her preference.

    He then points out that she decided they should be very well armed. She could have decided leave them with revolvers or tasers… or hell, put them on meter-maid duty… We all know he was referring to her decision to upgrade their firepower to semiautomatic high powered rifles, and not pistols.

    so, in short, Balko was precisely right on the facts, and this blog is in need of a serious correction and apology. What fact did Balko get wrong? You can misread it as much as you want to infer that he implied she wanted them back on the force (even though he provides a link that says otherwise), but you will find no explicit error because Balko said what was true: when you rehire people that are obviously bad cops, you don’t give them greater firepower… you take them down a peg or two.

    I doubt she was completely constrained from reassigning them to jobs that do not require such weaponry.

    Balko does make mistakes. It’s very hard to get the facts perfect when cops are proven to testalie, taint evidence, etc. I’m a fan of law enforcement and realize these are bad seeds, not typical cops. But still… it’s unworthy of a blog like this one, championing accuracy, to distort the truth and make personal attacks on the readers of another blog.

    Jem (4cdfb7)

  7. He then points out that she decided they should be very well armed. She could have decided leave them with revolvers or tasers… or hell, put them on meter-maid duty… We all know he was referring to her decision to upgrade their firepower to semiautomatic high powered rifles, and not pistols.

    1.) Demoting them without cause would in all likelyhood lead to a lawsuit that the dept. would lose.

    2.) They’re upgrading the entire police force’s weaponry, not simply these 17 cops.

    3.) Would it make you feel any better if the cops were given these instead?

    Taltos (4dc0e8)

  8. SPQR Another Drew:

    GIGO!
    The media fed garbage into Radley, and he spewed it back out. The original reports contained so many hot-button, pejorative terms such as the aforementioned “semi-automatic” weapons, that I would be surprised anyone came away with a positive, or accurate, view of this story.

    Ordinarily, I’d agree, but if we’ve reached the point where Reason writers buy into the very PSH on semi-automatic weapons they once argued eloquently against, the quality of that magazine has deteriorated even further than I thought, and that’s saying quite a bit. I’m half- inclined to give Radley the benefit of the doubt on that one; Reason spews more than its share of crap these days, but surely no one at Reason could spew this particular crap and be serious. There must have been an ironic point in there, somewhere, maybe over the point that DC civilians aren’t allowed to own those same weapons (not that they’re allowed to own revolvers, either).

    Jem:

    This is a comically lame attempt to smear Balco [sic].

    Classic sophistry.

    Balko never said that the chief decided to rehire the cops. He just said that she did rehire the cops with no comment as to her preference.

    You’re right, he didn’t actually come out and say Lanier chose voluntarily to re-hire the cops. All he did was imply it, leaving him in a position to say he technically hadn’t “lied,” just intentionally misled his readers. Classic sophistry.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  9. “she was forced to bring most of them back because the department missed critical deadlines for taking action.” There must be some way to keep these ingrates off the force.

    davod (5bdbd3)

  10. Xrlq, that was Another Drew.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  11. Oops, sorry about that. Fixed now.

    Xrlq (b71926)

  12. Guns and Balko, 2 subjects that make the liberals here look like intellectual defectives in severe need of incarceration in a rubber room.

    PCD (5c49b0)

  13. Xrlq, no apology necessary.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  14. Balko never said that the chief decided to rehire the cops. He just said that she did rehire the cops with no comment as to her preference.

    With all due respect, your point is bullshit. He said: “Sounds like a fantastic couple of ideas.” This implied it was the chief’s “idea” to rehire these people.

    I doubt she was completely constrained from reassigning them to jobs that do not require such weaponry.

    Do you know? My educated guess is that, if she was forced to rehire them, she is equally under a compulsion not to discriminate against them. Civil service, dontcha know. If you learn different, you let me know.

    This is a comically lame attempt to smear Balco.

    Classic sophistry.

    Balko never said that the chief decided to rehire the cops. He just said that she did rehire the cops with no comment as to her preference.

    . . . .

    so, in short, Balko was precisely right on the facts, and this blog is in need of a serious correction and apology.

    In short, you are full of it on this issue. Far from employing “sophistry,” I am the one who accurately characterizes what could be found at Balko’s links.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  15. 5/Kevin Murphy:

    I think the civil service protections for cops do a lot more good than harm. There are usually probationary periods of one to two years, and post-probation cops *do* get fired or, erm, decide to pursue other interests in some cases.

    Good agencies generally know how to deal with the civil service system. Agencies which can’t figure out how to file relatively simple paperwork on time probably shouldn’t be given carte blanche to fire cops.

    The reality is that a new administration someday might make the less good into a good agency, and experienced cops who didn’t like the people who couldn’t be bothered to read words or buy a calendar might well fit well into a more competent administration.

    –JRM

    JRM (355c21)

  16. We may think of them as semi-automatic rifles, but in D.C. they are legally machine guns.

    D.C Definition of Machine Gun

    TomHynes (439178)

  17. As Jem said, there is absolutely nothing inaccurate in what Balko posted. Nothing. No amount of outrage from Patterico will change that. Whatever you choose to read into the post is up to you, not him.

    Does anyone here think that hiring back criminal thugs for a police force and arming them with assault rifles is a good idea?

    As for the excuse-making for Chief Lanier, please spare me. “B-b-b-but it’s not my fault, it was the other guy!” Suck it up, sister. You’re in charge now. I don’t want to hear excuses from you, but rather how you’re going to keep these criminal goons off your so-called police force and prevent them from endangering the lives of citizens.

    But she’s plainly not going to the mat for the citizens she’s sworn to protect. She could easily refuse to hire back these criminals. It may cost her her job, it may not. The point is she won’t even attempt it because she’s more interested in her pension and her power than in protecting the citizens that pay her.

    As I said, I could give a rip about what the last guy did in office. She’s the chief now, and she is responsible for endangering the lives of DC residents with corrupt cops.

    CTD (7054d2)

  18. Is there any time you Libertarians like the police?

    nk (d7f5f5)

  19. Is there any time you Libertarians like the police?

    Um, when they aren’t staffing the force with corrupt goons?

    CTD (7054d2)

  20. There are some real nut jobs who comment at this site (e.g., CTD).

    Person No. 85 (7b1a1b)

  21. CTD appears to like to make shit up too. Levi has some company today.

    JD (75f5c3)

  22. All right then, CTD, just what exactly is wrong with people who have not been convicted of a felony, or any crime at all for that matter, being armed with semi-automatic weapons. Is there something sacred about semi-automatic weapons that reserves them to those in a state of grace?

    I expect to hear that kind of loaded pants-pissing-hysteric anti-gun talk from the Brady Bunch. Not from libertarians.

    nk (d7f5f5)

  23. CTD:

    Does anyone here think that hiring back criminal thugs for a police force and arming them with assault rifles is a good idea?

    No, but if a court orders you to do it it’s scarcely an “idea” at all, except maybe on the part of the judge issuing the order. And then only if the collective bargaining agreement.

    She could easily refuse to hire back these criminals.

    No she couldn’t, moron. The judge has already ruled she must hire them back. If the ruling was wrong (and you’ve provided no evidence that it was), then I suppose she could appeal. Otherwise, blame should properly be fixed on the original idiots who negotiated the terms of the cops’ employment, and the subsequent idiots who failed to adhere to these terms. Blaming the person who is supposedly “in charge” now lies somewhere on the spectrum between stupid and downright dishonest.

    It may cost her her job, it may not.

    It certainly should, but then again, it might not if whoever was responsible for firing her did as poor of a job staying on top of the paperwork as her predecessors did. More importantly, it wouldn’t have accomplished anything. If she violated the court orders, she’d get canned (probably) and face potential contempt citations to boot. Meanwhile, the 17 officers would still get their jobs back and end up back on the beat without missing one. Sounds like a fantastic idea. What could possibly go wrong?

    Your non-point about “assault” rifles is too stupid to address on the merits, so instead I’ll just note that by raising it at all, you’ve identified yourself not as a libertarian, but as a dopey liberal making a most unconvincing effort to pose as one. Levi, is that you?

    Xrlq (b71926)

  24. just what exactly is wrong with people who have not been convicted of a felony, or any crime at all for that matter, being armed with semi-automatic weapons.

    Nothing at all, if you are referring to private citizens who wish to purchase their own firearms. I don’t even have a problem if they want fully automatics weapons.

    But surely you can see the difference between this and a situation where officers of the law are sacked for corruption, incompetence and other malfeasance, then rehired and provided with new weapons at taxpayer expense and the legal authority to use them?

    Honestly, I’m more worried about them getting back the badge than the guns. But these individuals do not strike me as people who can be trusted to use firearms responsibly.

    CTD (7054d2)

  25. A point of clarrification…
    I am neither pro, or anti Balko. I commented on this from a Gun-Rights perspective, a Life Member of the NRA, and my personal involvement in the firearms community as an FFL.
    My point remains that almost all media coverage of firearms issues is garbage, biased, and highly prejudicial (and that’s just an informal opinion).
    I believe that Radley has done some important work, and that he has “jumped the shark” on a few issues, too.
    So be it!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  26. Does anyone here think that hiring back criminal thugs for a police force and arming them with assault rifles is a good idea?

    Assault rifles? Who said anything about that?

    Or is this another one of those “I’ll throw around scary words without care for their meaning” moments?

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  27. XRLQ –
    Your non-point about “assault” rifles is too stupid to address on the merits,

    Why? I’m assuming these are M4 carbines like those used by many forces, which fit the definition of “assault rifle” as being a selective-fire weapon chambering an intermediate cartridge. Sounds like you’re the one who needs a refresher on firearms nomenclature, not this “dopey liberal,” as you call me.

    (I suppose they could be semi-auto only, and if so, I grant my use of the term was incorrect.)

    Other than that you seem to be arguing about what is legal, and I’m talking about what is right and just. I’m painfully aware that the two are often very different. I just wish the chief would show some stones and do what is right in this instance. I know very well that she’d likely be replaced, but at least she’d be doing the right thing. And the long, ugly stink it would cause might actually make something get done about the underlying problem.

    CTD (7054d2)

  28. Rob Crawford –

    “Assault rifle” has a very specific definition that is not “scary”, but accurate. See comment 27.

    CTD (7054d2)

  29. Actually, IIRC, the correct term-of-use is: Assault weapon!
    It is the anti-gun crowd who use “assault rifle”.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  30. I’m assuming these are M4 carbines like those used by many forces, which fit the definition of “assault rifle” as being a selective-fire weapon chambering an intermediate cartridge

    You would be wrong, then.

    These are Semi-Auto Only. No select fire, unless you count “Safe” as an option to be selected.

    There is “safe” and “fire” on these rifles, and that “fire” puts one round down-range with each trigger pull. Just like a semi-auto pistol.

    Other than that you seem to be arguing about what is legal, and I’m talking about what is right and just.

    COnsidering these are cops, I’m rather focused on “legal” for reasons which should be self-explanitory – they enforce the law, they should thus be bound by it.

    Sure, the new Chief could have refused to re-hire. She would then lose her job, and her replacement would rehire them because he would know for CERTAIN that failure to do so would cost HIM his job.

    Just like criminals go free because of a slip in proceedure, these guys get their jobs back because someone dropped the ball. That person is NOT the current chief.

    The entire reason these 17 got their jobs back was because of the failures of the prior Chief. Blaming her is complete ignorance.

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  31. Why is it that Patterico seems to never links to Balko except to point out the mistakes Balko makes?

    I read Balko’s blog a lot, and a lot of the time I wish I knew what the hell Patterico thinks of the various abuses and injustices it points out.

    But Patterico never has a comment, except to play “gotcha” every once in a while with a semantic criticism.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  32. Another Drew, you got it backwards.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  33. As for the rifles, the article specifically calls them semi-auto rifles, refers to them as “AR 15’s” but states that they come from the Dept of Defense. I’m going to have to refresh my memory, but I thought that the DoD surplus rifles to PD’s were M16’s and M16A1’s. ( Although I’ve seen some news pieces of M14 rifles going to at least one PD ).

    Certainly they are not M4 carbines.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  34. SPQR – Clearly you are a racist/sexist/homophobe/hemophobe/shemophobe.

    JD (75f5c3)

  35. Those m14’s go to SWAT, and they are bought from the factory… THOSE babies are full-auto.

    Gods I want one…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  36. Radley Balko is an anti-cop turd.

    thebronze (82b795)

  37. My bad. They are clearly not assault rifles, and I misapplied the term. I’m not sure the citizens of DC are any safer with corrupt goons sporting AR15’s than they are with M4’s, but I stand corrected.

    Phil-
    Why is it that Patterico seems to never links to Balko except to point out the mistakes Balko makes?

    As has been pointed out repeatedly out, Balko was not mistaken about anything in this post. Everything he posted was true. She is re-hiring the fired cops. They are getting fancy new weapons.

    I, too, would love to know what Patterico thinks about Cory Maye, the fallout of the Kathryn Johnston debacle, Dr. Steven Hayne, Ryan Frederick, Tracy Ingle, Rachel Hoffman and a million other stories related to the police/proprietorial abuse, the drug war and police militarization.

    CTD (7054d2)

  38. “Is there any time you Libertarians like the police?”

    I am no libertarian and I think there should be some way to keep the ratbags off the force. Can DC seek a stay and appeal the ruling?

    davod (5bdbd3)

  39. CTD – As Levi has proven, doubling down on a lie does not make it any more true.

    JD (5f0e11)

  40. Nevermind. CTD is right. If you ignore all of those tricky little facts behind the meme. Or, if by right one means lying.

    JD (5f0e11)

  41. Anybody consider the fact that Balko was probably referring to Sheriff Lanier in her representative capacity? In that capacity, she is responsible for the acts of the police force, whether they occured on her watch or on some other representative’s watch. In that capacity, she is still responsible for the previous office-holder’s incompetence. Not sure why Patterico wants to make it personal by asking for an apology.

    Also, the new Sheriff knows she’s running a departnment riddled with the effects of your predecessor’s incompetence. Thus, one would expect her to focus on these problems, right?

    Getting the department bigger guns does seem like somewhat of a strange priority in light of that knowledge. (“Forget about the problem we KNOW exists right now — let’s focus on getting ready for that really rare big gunfight we might have someday.”)

    Perhaps it is a misdirection tactic? I.E., “look directly at the big pretty guns . . . pay no attention to the incompetent co-workers who still surround you . . . “

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  42. Phil, were you trying to make sense?

    Because you didn’t. “Sheriff” [sic] Lanier is not responsible for others’ incompetence in any sense, certainly not the sense that Balko attempted to attribute to her. And in what bizarro world is complying with a court order to reinstate failing to “focus” ?

    CTD – we are supposed to take you seriously when you ignore how you got spanked? Won’t work.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  43. Balko, in the discussions on this site re jury nullification, made it very clear that he would consciously lie, even under oath, in order to advance his preferred agenda. His is an “ends justify the means” attitude on principle, rather than on a case by case basis.

    I think he also does care about the issues, but he vacillates between truth and spin so easily and so often that I mostly just ignore him now. Too bad it’s come to that, cuz if he were willing to consistently present all sides of an arg, instead of just whichever one suits his noble crusade, he could be quite a good writer. He’s become, to me at least, the proverbial stopped watch twice a day.

    Ah well….

    ras (fc54bb)

  44. SPQR – Because some cops were bad in the past, all future sheriffs are responsible for everything done before they took office and how dare they arm their officers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    JD (5f0e11)

  45. JD, I’m no fan of corrupt or incompetent police departments. Got a few around here, represented a couple of victims of thuggish cops locally. From I understand D.C. is a real pigsty.

    That’s not an excuse for silly misrepresentation as identified by Patterico, however.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  46. #46 SPQR:

    From I understand D.C. is a real pigsty.

    Shouldn’t go around insulting pigs like that.

    D.C.’s MPD is something else, and appears to me to be directly the result of the citizenry itself: look how many times they elected Marion Berry, for crying out loud. And I’m given to understand that the Police Chief’s position is really more a figurehead…or rather a puppet’s head with the Mayor and the Council fighting over whose hand up the ass controls it.

    I think the Founding Fathers displayed incredible insight into what kind of partisan games could be played in the seat of the government…and it might be necessary to dismantle some of the infrastructure completely and start again from scratch. MPD is probably as good a place as any to start.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  47. I never got the impression that anyone was advocating for incompetent or corrupt police departments. I thought that Patterico’s post did a good thing. As with Levi’s type of argument, Radley, Phil, CFD, and the like ought to consider that if they have to lie to make a point, then maybe, just maybe, their point is not that strong.

    JD (5f0e11)

  48. I quite agree: but I think D.C. is almost unique among American cities in the way the game is played here.

    Its almost as if there is some kind of multiple personality disorder going on…

    Lanier had no choice about whether these derelicts were reinstated…and I don’t think she really has much control over what goes on a daily basis, but I also don’t think she’s particularly competent to handle what little responsibility is hers.

    Classic study in how to make a bad situation worse.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  49. SPQR…
    You’re right, my bad.

    BTW, those M-14’s that have been issued to PD SWAT teams are old-stock. They stopped making them back in the 60’s; and, they could never be distributed through the DCM since they are considered machine-guns. They’re also being re-issued to selected Marine and Army (a few) units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Marines are using the M-14 as a “designated marksman” rifle at the squad level – sort of an intermediate step between a rifleman, and a sniper. As a big fan of the “enhanced Garand”, I always find it interesting to see how many I can find in TV snippets from the two areas of combat.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  50. Yep, Another Drew, I used to have a civilian version called an M1A. Fine rifle.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  51. The M1A, and its’ many new versions, are just great go-to rifles. With a couple Garands, and a couple M1a’s in the vault, when I reach in it’s always decision time.
    Never a bad decision, but one difficult to make.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  52. And not an assault rifle. A battle rifle. An assault rifle fires an “intermediate” cartridge, something between a pistol round and a high-velocity, flat-trajectory rifle round. I would not call rifles firing the 5.56mm/.223 assault rifles either. Sub-caliber maybe.

    nk (d7f5f5)

  53. Perhpas I’m wrong but the rifle they are issuing is NOT the M14, it’s the Colt M-4. They were modified (A simple modification) to semi-auto from a select fire mode which included full-auto. The M14 rifle is a .308 or 7.62x.51 cartride. The M-4 fires the 5.56 or.223 standard M-16 cartridge. Theoretically, they are considered assault rifles, at least under the California law.

    Patrick (a8c3ea)

  54. Patrick, uh no. I’m pretty sure that the DoD program that surpluses rifles is not surplusing M4’s. The M14’s mentioned above went to another PD, in Idaho if my memory serves.

    The M16 family can indeed be converted to semi-auto only operation – and in fact several manufacturers of those rifles offer police departments kits of semi-auto fire control parts designed to fit in M16 receivers ( actual civilian AR 15’s receivers are not identical to military / law enforcement M16 receivers ).

    The term “assault rifle” is a technical term. Sometimes it has been coopted by statutes that then misrepresent the original meaning of the term. Or the laws define something called an “assault weapon” which is a legal fiction. And in fact, California’s silly Roberti-Roos bill did the latter.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  55. SpQR,

    I’m a law enforcement screener (1033 Program) for military surplus. I can assure you the M-4 is available.

    Patrick (a8c3ea)

  56. Then you’ve educated me, Patrick.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  57. Other than [being too lazy to read an article that made it clear the weapons in question were semiauto AR-15s and not select-fire weapons of any kind] you seem to be arguing about what is legal, and I’m talking about what is right and just. I’m painfully aware that the two are often very different. I just wish the chief would show some stones and do what is right in this instance.

    Then your moral compass is every bit as warped as your views of the law and the facts. There is a name for public officials who do what they personally believe to be “right and just” rather than following the law. They’re called dictators.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  58. So the police department failed to follow follow the rules for firing bad officers and is not forced to take them back?

    Are the incompetent of was this just an easy way to hire them back without having to admit that’s what they wanted to do all along.

    I’m going to assume malice over stupidity in this case. I don’t see much evidence that law enforcement supports applying the laws to themselves. I’m happy to re-evaluate this position if someone can show where the people responsible for this screw up have been held accountable.

    Joe (c0e4f8)

  59. Balko’s piece is slanted; then again, so it Patterico’s. Balko’s piece implies (but does not specifically state) that the chief wanted to hire the cops back, and wanted to give them semiauto rifles. Patterico’s implies that the chief didn’t want to do the first, and had no choice but to do the second.

    Of all of those implications, the only one that is almost certainly untrue is the latter. (The chief almost certainly could have assigned the rehired cops to desk duties; a cop riding a desk will not routinely be issued a semiauto rifle.)

    Where Balko is right — both in this piece and in general — is that bad behavior by cops often goes unpunished, both by their departments and by the legal system.

    That said, as somebody who often admires the reporting of both of them, I do wish that Balko had been fairer in his reporting on this one, even more than I wish that Patterico would have been.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  60. Don’t miss the comment thread at “Reason.” There Balko is engaging in the usual “how dare you smear me as inaccurate and misleading just because I write stuff that’s inaccurate and misleading” drivel that so typifies the Balko we’ve come to know and not necessarily love.

    Xrlq (b71926)

  61. Xrlq #57 – Ditto, and bravo.

    Where Balko is right — both in this piece and in general — is that bad behavior by cops often goes unpunished, both by their departments and by the legal system.

    Then he should make that point, without lying. It is a good and fair topic to discuss.

    JD (75f5c3)

  62. Upon further reading, I think that it’s at best premature to argue that Balko owes Lanier an apology. It’s not like, in 2006, she fell off a turnip truck and into the chief’s job — she was a major leader in the department before her promotion.

    Now, should it becomes clear that, before she got promoted, she was a strong advocate within the department for cleaning up its act — doing a better job in its demonstrably desultory actions in getting rid of bad cops, in and out of her own division — then that will be a different story. But there’s no hint of that that I can find in any of the Washington Post stories.

    As it is, we simply don’t know if she was, before her promotion, clueless enough to miss how bad a job her department was doing in getting rid of bad cops, fought internally to get the department to clean itself up but failed, or just plain didn’t care.

    Joel Rosenberg (5ec843)

  63. I know which way I’d guess, Joel.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  64. Me, too, SPQR, but it’s just a guess, just as Xrlq’s claim that she’s “blameless” in this is — unless he’s got some information he’s being uncharacteristically shy about sharing — is somewhere along the lines of a guess or a hope. Doesn’t seem entirely fair to criticize Balko for not sharing that guess/hope, although it is fair, I think, for Patterico to criticize Balko for his own bias.

    It’s also possible, of course, that she’s working within the limits of the law to get rid of the bad cops that skated on a technicality . . . but that’s not a guess, just a probably forlorn hope.

    Still, one can hope; if bad cops in DC or elsewhere continue to skate, there’s going to continue to be a lot of temptation for other cops of bad character to continue their bad practices.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  65. #64 Joel Rosenberg:

    It’s also possible, of course, that she’s working within the limits of the law to get rid of the bad cops that skated on a technicality . . . but that’s not a guess, just a probably forlorn hope.

    Even though D.C. is the closest major metropolitan area to my home, I don’t always keep abreast of the circus there.

    IIRC, and from what I understand from a friend in MPD, Lanier was an apparatchik prior to her elevation as Chief…ie, she doesn’t appear to me to have any outstanding qualities, like a history of fighting internal corruption, that would qualify her as a crusader for truth, justice, and the American way.

    Even so, she expressed outrage that MPD was forced to reinstate these “officers,” en masse because it was pretty obvious to even the most casual observer (like me) that many of them ought to be in jail (and I think that one of them was, come to think of it, in Prince George’s County on assault or drug related charges when the reinstatement was announced). Again, IIRC, MPD was also forced by outside agency (the court or arbitration) to allow some, if not all, of the “officers” to resume patrol duties rather than be assigned something innocuous.

    The decision to arm MPD with semiautomatic rifles is a separate issue, but troubling because of the level of casual corruption within the department and because of the possibility that some of the worst offenders may be armed with them.

    In any case, Balko’s characterization is inaccurate at best, and intentionally misleading at worst. As Xrlq notes at #60,

    Balko … engaging in the usual “how dare you smear me as inaccurate and misleading just because I write stuff that’s inaccurate and misleading” drivel that so typifies the Balko we’ve come to know and not necessarily love

    has been demonstrated both here and at Reason sufficiently that I find it unlikely that he was simply inaccurate.

    EW1(SG) (84e813)

  66. I agreed from the outset (well, after checking the links; trust but cut the cards, and all) with Patterico that this piece of Balko’s was biased, so I’m with you on that. I think he should have been more complete.

    As to Lanier expressing outrage at the rehiring of the bad cops, well, that’s kind of politically safe; I don’t give her any credit for that.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)

  67. Joel, I’m not guessing as to whether Lanier is or isn’t blameless in this mess. For all I know, maybe she is the one individual who personally caused all 17 files to get delayed. However, unlike Balkopologists, I’m not OK with smearing someone over what they might have done. If Radley has evidence Lanier is to blame, let him produce it. Otherwise, he should apologize.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  68. If you don’t think Lanier is blameless, Xrlq, why did you suggest that she was? You’re confusing me, and it’s not nice.

    Joel Rosenberg (677e59)


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