January 28, 2015 9:30 pm ET
August 2014 complaint to County Police remains unanswered
Source: CYA ASAP
There are many terms I can use to describe today’s topic, but I prefer “cover-up.”
Of course, you can also use words like whitewash, smokescreen, and stonewalling—they all fit, and they all lead back to the office occupied by Chief Jim Johnson. You may know him well for his constant reminder that we are as safe as we were back in 1976-79.
Let me jump off subject and ride that tangent for a second. If that truly is the case, then why is the police budget busting at the seams? Why do we have more police now than during those so-called “safe years?”
You also may know the Chief from his trip to Washington to testify about assault rifles and the devastation they are causing. Just to keep you informed, less than 2% of homicides in the nation involve assault rifles.
In fact, I can’t remember the last time an assault rifle in Baltimore County was used. Across the nation, though, our President keeps droning on and on about “domestic terrorists” who are using assault rifles for “workplace killings” and such. Despite the hoopla, though, the fact remains that we are being misled about the assault weapon problem.
OK, my tangent is over. Time to get down to the real topic of the blog.
Some of you may be familiar with what I referred to as “county gate,” where two members of Dundalk United were singled out for an old fashioned grilling by Major Butch Wilson—the same commander who was promoted after causing an uproar at the County’s highly acclaimed tactical unit by playing checkers with the staff. Not the red pieces and black pieces kind of checkers, though—this kind of checkers involved breaking up teams of tactical officers which resulted in a good number of veterans transferring out of the unit. At that time, Butch Wilson was a captain, and now he is a major.
Nice job if you can get it.
(Sorry, it seems the tangents just keep writing themselves today…)
Now, back to county gate. The two members of Dundalk United, Karen Cruz and Bob Staab, were contacted by the police for a special meeting, or what I would call a blatant attempt to silence their opposition to the sale of the North Point Government Center.
This story went viral locally when the Sun, FOX 45, WBAL, and other local media picked it up and ran with it. Do you know how good it felt to tell a boss to stuff it when he said I could not tape the meeting which Dundalk TV also did.
There were numerous letters to the editor of the Sun raging about this police action. People often ask me how those in power get away with these types of things, and my answer is, “Because they can.”
Alright, enough tangents. Now back to our regularly scheduled story.
After that whole debacle, which went all the way back to Chief Johnson’s office, Mr. Staab and Mrs. Cruz filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs section in an attempt to find out how this planned intimidation against their right to free speech came about. The complaint was officially filed back on August 28, 2014 and assigned to Lt. James Dorsey.
Here is the exchange of e-mails regarding this issue.
I have completed the investigation and the case is currently pending approval at the IAS Commander level. You should be notified of the results shortly.
Thanks for your patience,
>>> BCPD 1/8/2015 2:49 PM >>>
Mr. Robert Staab and I are looking for an update on the attached Internal Affairs Case #2014-066 regarding the police meeting with Robert Staab and Karen Cruz.
We appreciate your prompt response.
Thank you very much.
Karen F. Cruz
President, Eastfield-Stanbrook Civic Association
With all of that said, will someone please tell me what is taking so long for this information to be released? Is it top secret? I don’t think so. Could it be incriminating to the Police Department and the County Administration?
You’re darn tooting it could!
Here’s my take on this farce.
First, Karen and Bob were making some serious waves in the political pond on behalf of their group, Dundalk United.
Add to that the fact that there were plenty of witnesses (and maybe even a few suspects) who were present when all of this went down at the council work session. Do you think for one minute that this IA case would include grilling those witnesses, such as Mr. Fred Homan or any of the Council members? If you do, you’re smoking some of that funny stuff, whether you have a prescription for it or not.
On top of all of that, you have the matter of the official police reports to back up the rhetoric from Major Wilson. That report proved to be a big mess, because I was there the entire time and none of the near pandemonium described in the reports ever occurred. Even Councilman David Marks wondered what was going on here, because everything was cool.
What kind of investigation can this be when the victims were never interviewed? Does whitewash come to mind?
So as the clock continues to tick (cue the creepy ticking clock sound effect heard in so many classic movies) before the council votes on Mr. Kamenetz’s appointees, a truthful negative report could be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.
To shed some more light on this story, as well as the Department’s “behind closed doors” policy, here are some more interesting e-mails.
First up is the Department’s response on some questions I had about the delay (or cover-up, your choice) on this IA case, as well as my inquiry into the radar camera tickets being signed by a police officer who, in my opinion, did not meet the standard of law because of his duty status.
Here is the e-mail from Elise Armacost, who is the Media Relations guru.
Internal Affairs cases are personnel matters and therefore not public information. We cannot discuss the information you reference.
I suggest that you send a Public Information Act request regarding the policies regarding officers who approve traffic citations. Once I receive it, I will forward to our Legal Section.
Director of Media & Communications,
Baltimore County Police & Fire
To me, that response can be translated to, “We’ll check to see if we are breaking the law and get back to you.”
Before I close on this caper, I called Media Relations to check on the current homicide count in the County. Needless to say, I received the “Ms. Armacost will have to call you back” shtick.
You have to understand that those figures are one click away on the computer, yet nobody is willing to release them without going through the Director of Media and Communications?
It kind of sounds like the White House, doesn’t it?
So, while we wait for information, I will do my duty and follow Ms. Armacost’s advice. After all, the best way to get around the County’s CYA is a PIA, which I will file ASAP, and not on the QT.
And we all know that I am OK with that.