Back in April, I wrote here on PJ Media to speculate on whether, from a police officer’s perspective, Loretta Lynch might be an improvement as attorney general over her predecessor, Eric Holder. In that piece I linked to a Los Angeles Times story, written by Timothy M. Phelps, in which a favorable opinion of Ms. Lynch was expressed by, not surprisingly, one of Mr. Holder’s former underlings. I concluded my column with this question: “Is there anyone who believes that Loretta Lynch will be any less calculating [than Mr. Holder] in her stewardship of the Justice Department?”
The L.A. Times seems eager to persuade us that she will be. How else to explain their latest story on Ms. Lynch, this one also written by Mr. Phelps, that ran under the headline, “Loretta Lynch, new attorney general, works to develop rapport with police.” And in that story we are told of how she “made a point of meeting quietly with a dozen officers as they were going out to patrol the still-tense city.” In this meeting we are to draw a distinction between Ms. Lynch and Mr. Holder, who, while addressing college students in Ferguson, Mo., last year during the Michael Brown controversy, spoke of being “profiled” by police in Washington, D.C. Mr. Holder did not meet with local police officers while visiting Ferguson.
Let us give Ms. Lynch some credit for meeting with Baltimore officers, but there is some question as to how “quietly” the meeting was conducted in the presence of reporters and photographers. Clearly the meeting was stage-managed for the purpose of drawing the desired distinction between Ms. Lynch and Mr. Holder. Many cops know how these meetings go. You show up to work one day and are told that some mucky-muck will be coming through the station, the mayor, the governor, or, as in this case, the attorney general. You are told to make sure your uniform is clean and your boots are shined, and you are told not to ask any questions or say anything that might reflect poorly on your bosses. You are tempted to ask (but do not ask) if the attorney general wants to get in on the over-under pool for the number of people who will be killed on the streets of Baltimore this year (the smart money is on the “over”). You endure the charade for as long as it takes, and after the photographs are taken and the quotes are delivered to the scribes, the mucky-muck and her attending entourage loads up in the black Suburbans and leave, leaving you and your colleagues to your work, which is and will remain unchanged despite the mucky-muck’s promises to make things better.
But in fact things in Baltimore are changing, just not in the way Ms. Lynch and the Police Department’s brass would hope. Ms. Lynch’s encomium to the beleaguered cops will not alter the fact that crime in Baltimore is out of control with no sign of improvement. “You have picked a noble profession,” she told the officers. “Despite how people may want to portray it, you [should] hold on to that every day.” Among the “many” she referred to are of course Mr. Holder and, lest we forget, the president of the United States, who seems to believe that the greatest danger facing black Americans is that of being mistreated by police officers. Conditions in Baltimore suggest otherwise. Since April 12, the day Freddie Gray was arrested, 51 people have been killed in Baltimore, 47 of whom have been black and none of whom died at the hands of a police officer.
And it’s not just Baltimore. Cops all over the country have seen the six Baltimore police officers served up to appease the mob, and they know it could happen to them. The results are as predictable as they are tragic. In New York City murders are up 12 percent from a year ago as officers continue their reticence at conducting the type of proactive police work that keeps violent crime in check. In Los Angeles, homicides are down by 10 percent this year, though this is more of a testament to the skill of paramedics and medical personnel than it is to good police work. Shootings in the city are up by 23 percent and other violent crime is up by 25 percent. LAPD arrests for violent crime this year are down by 13 percent. And in some parts of L.A. the picture is bleaker than in others. Shooting incidents are up significantly across heavily black and Latino South-Central L.A. In Newton Division, for example, one of the city’s 21 patrol areas, homicides are up by 42 percent, and the number of shooting incidents and shooting victims have both doubled from last year. Newton Division was the scene of last year’s police killing of Ezell Ford, an “unarmed black man” who, according to the officers who shot him, tried to disarm one them after a foot chase. The involved officers, despite the lack of evidence that they did anything illegal or against policy, remain off the streets and under investigation.
These crime trends prompt a question for Attorney General Lynch: Will she, unlike her predecessor, be willing to discuss the truth behind these grim crime figures, which is that the culture of America’s inner cities too often fails to instill the type of moral values that restrain violent impulses? (For a heartbreaking example, see this story in the L.A. Times.) In this regard Mr. Holder was nothing but Al Sharpton without the bombast.
It’s all well and good that Loretta Lynch is meeting with police officers and trying to separate herself from Eric Holder’s legacy. But how refreshing it would be to hear her say that of all the problems faced by the residents of America’s inner cities, the police are the least of them.
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