Jonathan Banks, having taken the helm when Cato Institute took over the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project from Packratt, was kind enough to capture and storify the twits of Michael A. Wood Jr., a former Baltimore police officer who left the force in 2014. They are, to say the least, explosive.
Here is what Wood had to say:
So here we go. I’m going to start Tweeting the things I’ve seen & participated in, in policing that is corrupt, intentional or not.
A detective slapping a completely innocent female in the face for bumping into him, coming out of a corner chicken store.
Punting a handcuffed, face down, suspect in the face, after a foot chase. My handcuffs, not my boot or suspect
CCTV cameras turning as soon as a suspect is close to caught.
Pissing and shitting inside suspects homes during raids, on their beds and clothes.
Swearing in court and PC docs that suspect dropped CDS during unbroken visual pursuit when neither was true.
Jacking up and illegally searching thousands of people with no legal justification
Having other people write PC statements, who were never there because they could twist it into legality.
Summonsing officers who weren’t there so they could collect the overtime.
Targeting 16-24 year old black males essentially because we arrest them more, perpetrating the circle of arresting them more.
Are these true? Are these real? First, a warning, that confirmation bias should not compel you to rush out, screaming in the streets, that Wood’s revelations have confirmed your worst nightmares and the Trilateral Commission rules the world. Some of these “revelations” are fairly well-known to be the case, and are merely confirmatory.
But others, such as “pissing and shitting inside suspects homes during raids, on their beds and clothes,” are quite outrageous. Is Wood being truthful?
@MichaelAWoodJr watched other cops illegally beat citizens, arrest them, shit on their beds…and did nothing?
This doesn’t go to whether Wood’s twits are, per se, accurate, but his motivations and integrity. For a guy revealing the inside dirt of bad coppery, wasn’t he as bad for either doing, or at least being present while others did, these terrible things to people?
This is a question I’ve asked many times, and the answer I’ve gotten from other cops is that when they’re on the job, they rely on their fellow cops to back them up. The First Rule of Policing is still in force, and they fear that if they reveal the nasty stuff or try to undermine their brothers doing whatever dirty they’re doing, they’re going to end up full Serpico.
That means a cop-rat will be on his own to take a gunshot to the face, as no cops will back up a rat cop. Nice. The “no snitching” rule is as strong, if not stronger, for police as it is for the mob. The other mob.
Is this Wood’s explanation? As of now, he hasn’t said.
The Police Leadership Association (PLA) has the ultimate mission of creating and guiding law enforcement leaders that are professional, competent, ethical, compassionate, and loyal to the United States Constitution and the citizens they serve. We provide knowledge, career direction, and most importantly, support for leaders to do the right thing at all times, whether they are fighting the evils of the street or more commonly the pressures of internal politics.
While the PLA “mission” isn’t uncritical of police, it also isn’t unsupportive.
There is no lack of motivation for young officers to go out and police. What is hard to face, is that the politicians that govern us and the citizens that we serve expect police to have Law degrees, be paramedics, psychologists, elite marksmen, omniscient psychics, and ninjas, all at the same time, while we work for peanuts and never sleep. That expectation cannot be changed, what can be changed is our level of professionalism in facing those facts.
With these other pieces of his life happening concurrently, the question is raised whether these twitter revelations are being made to boost his profile, to make him an overnight celebrity author or savior of policing, or even just a rat to his brother cops.
To a large extent, the answers to many of these questions depends on whether one chooses to believe Michael Wood or not, to trust him or to doubt him. There are reasons to do both.
That said, there is one piece that compels me to find Michael Wood credible, even though I don’t know him and can’t vouch for him. Given the things he’s saying about police, there can be no doubt that he will have a huge target on his forehead, and the cops, from chiefs to union business agents, will do everything in their power to find a crack in his story, a hole, that they can exploit and use to destroy him.
If there is any way to ruin Michael Wood they will. If there is any way to hurt Michael Wood, they will. And still, Wood is talking. Either he’s totally nuts or he has made a decision to tell all and take the risks, the hits, associated with breaking the blue wall of silence.
Update: Radley Balko interviews Wood at The Watch. Frankly, I’m not at all clear whether the interview makes Wood more or less believable.