Baltimore police once used a helicopter to break up a dice game

From The Washington Post:

Almost no white gamblers are arrested in Baltimore. Between 2010 and 2015, no less than 99 percent of suspects charged with gaming or playing cards or dice in the city were black, according to a new report from the Justice Department.

The statistic neatly summarizes the report’s critique of zero-tolerance policing, the practice of rigorously enforcing the laws against even minor transgressions in an effort to close down outdoor drug markets and to create an atmosphere of public order. The report concludes that police in Baltimore violate civilians’ constitutional rights, use excessive force and do so in a way that disproportionately harms the city’s black residents.

“Although we are not aware of any data tracking the precise rate at which people of different races play cards or dice, it is extremely unlikey that African Americans comprise 99 percent of those doing so,” the authors note.

Ostensibly, zero-tolerance policing is a thing of the past in Baltimore. Martin O’Malley, the former mayor, instituted the policy after taking office in 1999. Under O’Malley, officers were making some 100,000 arrests a year in Baltimore, a city of about 650,000 at the time.

Since then, Baltimore officials have retreated from the policy, but the Justice Department contends the practice has persisted. And if Baltimore’s police have zero tolerance for public disorder, they somehow have even less tolerance for offenses in black neighborhoods, the report implies.

For his part, O’Malley argues the policies helped reduce crime. “None of it was easy,” he told The Washington Post last year. “All of it was hard. But there were very few people who want to return to those violent days of 1999.”

The report presents data on a series of the vaguely defined misdemeanors that give police officers in every city substantial leeway over whether to make an arrest. In Baltimore, black residents were twice as likely to be charged with failing to obey an officer and nearly three times as likely to be charged with disorderly conduct.

Prosecutors and booking officials, however, …

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