Sending the Wrong Message?
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 21st January 2017

July 8, 2015 11:48 pm ET

Police officer chastises Drug City employees for reporting shoplifter

Source: Sending the Wrong Message?

Captain Orlando Lilly

Well, here we go again, folks.

Before we begin, don’t blame this retired cop for not trying to settle the matter without “going to print,” so to speak. I tried to settle it, but it seems that a certain Captain Lilly is going back on a promised policy.

And that, folks, is not my fault.

Today’s saga starts at Drug City, where I was making a purchase. That was when I noticed someone out front laying on the ground in some sort of distress. Cutting to the chase, the victim was transported by medics to the hospital.

I couldn’t help overhear some employees become very upset over a recent incident involving a shoplifter they caught, as well as the police “response” they received.

Here are the details, as revealed by the employees.

A man recently was observed taking some vitamin pills, placing them in his pocket, and walking out of the store. An employee followed the shoplifting suspect out of the store, where he entered a pickup truck with another man. The employee started to write down the tag number and, at that point, the suspect figured “the jig was up” and walked back into the store.

Once back inside, the suspect placed the stolen merchandise on the counter and tried to leave, saying he wasn’t going to pay for the items. One of the employees then stepped in front of the suspect and said that he had to pay for the items—there was no other option since the suspect was caught in the act. While this was taking place, another employee called 911 to report the incident.

While this was happening, the suspect was attempting to leave and kept bumping into the one employee, trying to push his way out of the store. At this point, another employee stood behind the other employee as the suspect continued trying to forcibly leave the store.

So, at this point, you had the suspect pushing one employee into the other numerous times, with one employee becoming afraid of how far the suspect might go to escape.

Let me express this in some legal terminology. What transpired went from shoplifting or petty theft with a value under $500 to assault, which are both misdemeanors. Here is the rendering of the law regarding assault in the state of Maryland:

In Maryland, the crime of assault, known as assault in the second degree, is a misdemeanor and occurs when a person makes offensive physical contact with another, attempts to make offensive physical contact with another, or intentionally frightens another. Maryland also has special laws regarding assaults against law enforcement officers, assaults that occur in correctional facilities, and reckless endangerment.

(Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 3-203.)

At that time in the incident, a police officer arrived on the scene. This officer, by the way, is known to the employees as a veteran of the force. One of his first comments to the suspect was, in so many words, that if the value of the items stolen did not exceed $1,000, then the suspect shouldn’t worry about it.

The officer then got the necessary information to write the report. He asked if the suspect had any open warrants, and the officer continued to tell the suspect not to worry about the incident due to the theft not being over $1,000.

In fact, the officer repeated this numerous times. He seemed more concerned with the suspect than the assaults on the employees.

After the incident was over, the officer then asked the employees if all of this was worth it over some vitamins, especially since Drug City is a big business and has plenty of money.

Let that sink in for a moment…

The employees angrily reminded the officer that the store repeatedly lost money due to shoplifting.

The officer then handed a piece of paper to the employee and said that, if the employee wanted to charge the suspect, the employee should get a warrant.

The officer then walked out the store while continuing to criticize the employees and Drug City in front of other customers. One customer walked back into the store and reported that incident to the front desk.

After interviewing those involved in detail, I called the precinct and spoke to someone in the Captain’s office. I explained the entire matter in detail and asked to speak to Captain Lilly. I was told he was not available. I gave the person on the phone the report number and mentioned that someone might want to stop by Drug City and talk to the store staff.

The call ended with me hearing that someone would get back to me by the end of the day. I made sure to mention that, if I did not hear from someone, I was going to write the story and publish it on my blog.

Needless to say (since you’re reading this), I heard from no one.

Folks, this whole experience proved to me that all of the hype about the new captain was apparently just that—hype.

One night at a community meeting, I listened to Captain Lilly speak about how he was committed to serving the community and wanted to hear and be among the citizens whom he served. After all of the local news reports of Captain Lilly taking over the North Point Precinct, and his walks through the various neighborhoods with Councilman Crandell, suddenly those elaborate words rang hollow.

The sad part about this whole episode is that it falls on the heels of the Sun story about another crime victim who was told the police station was closed:

I made a sincere attempt to resolve this through other means than putting it in writing. However, when my attempts met a concrete wall, I figured it was time to, as the saying goes, put the pedal to the metal.

Or fingers to the keyboard, in this case.

To make matters worse, this is not the only time Drug City reached out for help from the police. There is a huge problem with prostitutes and panhandlers from the bar across the street and other than being told to call 911, nothing else has been done. There are units within the precinct that deal specifically with this type of problem, but again, sadly, no leadership.

It seems that all of the talk about Captain Lilly’s open door policy was just lip service. I tried to go through the supposedly open door, but all I heard in response was the door slam shut in my face.

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