Bickering, Not Crime-Fighting, In Annapolis

Crime, specifically drug and violent crime, and most specifically drug and violent crime in public housing areas, has become a particularly hot issue in Annapolis. Annapolis’ Mayor Ellen Moyer, upon returning from a 6 week tour of sister cities in Europe, proposed a series of protocols to address the problems. But most of the proposals appear to have been little more than lip service.


While sometimes I feel like bemoaning the fact that much of my news comes from The Capital, the fact of the matter is that this blog is more of an opinion journal than a news journal, and I am perfectly happy to leave the reporting to the professionals–err, at least the local paper of record.

Enter Sunday’s edition, where we learn that the Mayor’s lack of direction in implementing her new crime fighting plans has frustrated the very people responsible for its implementation.

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This portrayal of how the crime plans came to be fits perfectly with AP‘s imagination of how city business works. I envisioned the mayor returning from Europe to chaos, and quickly throwing together a cosmetic solution lacking seriousness–a la Sargent Bilko–just to quiet the critics.

Plans do not implement themselves. The last time the Mayor tried to implement a big plan like this, it was for the Market House. When the plan fell through (because nobody worried about the details), the Mayor first denied there were any problems, then conspired to present the grim facts through a rose colored spectrum. The key to implementing a plan is following through on what you say you are going to do. Speaking from experience, is it also good to have backup plans in case your ideal plan does not work.

As for the current crime plan, it seems the mayor’s plan was again short on details. So reports The Capital:

Annapolis Housing Authority President Eric Brown wrote Ms. Moyer a letter on Wednesday asking for “additional direction” on what she wants in a new agreement of understanding to address crime in the city’s public housing communities.

You would think that the Mayor would take the time to get on the same page with the Housing Authority, since a lot of the emphasis of the new plan is on crime, specifically drug crime, in the public housing areas. The police chief, a reasonably important participant in any crime-fighting effort, had this to say:

We need to sit down…..How do we put this in the budget, secure these things, train these people … It’s not something we can run out and do in the next month. What timeline is she expecting?

Public Service Announcement to Chief Johnson, HACA President Brown, and other department heads: it’s not good to publicly criticize the mayor!

Ms. Moyer responded to Mr. Brown by explaining:

I guess he doesn’t know how to read.

She also stipulated that:

He (Chief Johnson) needs to advise me on the budgetary issues.

If he has not advised you already, consider yourself advised. He just said he doesn’t know how to pay for the horse and the Segway. Also consider yourself redundant:

Local and federal officials confirmed this week the city joined the DEA’s State and Local High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force at least 10 years ago.

Now, I will agree that a Mayor does not necessarily have to know every procedural working of the police department. But if the department enters into an important drug-fighting partnership with the federal government, and furthermore if the mayor was on the city council at the time of the agreement, I would think the mayor should know about it. I know of some officers that read this blog–am I right here? Why would the mayor not know something like this?

The mayor later amended her position, stating that she meant for a renewal of emphasis on the task force, rather than a new agreement. Even so, a DEA spokesman said that the task force won’t change much:

Special Agent Ed Marcinko, a DEA spokesman, reiterated the task force is not changing how it investigates drugs and identifies drug dealers.

“It’s business as usual,” he said.

This is government nonsense at its best. The mayor observed a problem, but she seemingly prefers to address the political problem for her rather than the crime problem that most people are interested in talking about. By throwing around buzz words, and buzz ideas, such as ‘new committee’, ‘task force’, ‘5 step plan’, etc.–and not backing them up with any teeth–we are no better off.

AP has sent an email to Ray Weaver requesting the results of the recently administered qualification/entrance exam for new officers. Everyone (even now the mayor) is in agreement that the place to start is to fill the 23 vacancies in the department, and when I find out where we are on this, I will let you know.

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