Bealefeld has hopes for accused Greenmount Ave killers during radio apperance with police critic
"I hope there's two places for them: one here on Earth, and one in eternity, and they deserve to spend as much time as possible in both places."
That was Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III's response when asked by a radio show caller if the two teens charged with killing 72-year-old Charles Bowman at a carryout restaurant will face severe punishment. It's more of the blunt and colorful talk we've come to expect from Bealefeld during his tenure as police commissioner.
Bealefeld was speaking on WOLB 1010 AM's "Taxi Talk Radio," an appearance that started slow but led to some interesting comments. When asked about police barricades near The Block, Bealefeld revealed that the impetus for the heavy presence was intelligence that Bloods gang members were attempting to infiltrate businesses and the drug trade there. And he said he recently met with the NAACP and police union to talk about outreach efforts in South Baltimore's Cherry Hill neighborhood.
I was anticipating this appearance because of the potential dynamic between Bealefeld and one of the show's co-hosts, A.F. James MacArthur, a citizen journalist who appears fairly often at events and crime scenes. On his blog, he regularly admonishes government and police over the city's violence, as well as the media for not adequately covering it. One entry was titled: "Battle Ground Baltimore Remains a Bloody Bastion of Boundless Mayhem and Murder." He recently Tweeted to me in response to a story, "Don't gimme that crap statistically, crime is down. That's just a public appeasing load of bull."
In an April 11 rant on his Twitter page, MacArthur called out the officer and prosecutor on his case by name and said this: "As long as their [sic] are worthless cops on the street, and idiot prosecutors in the courts, focusing on all the wrong things, people and places, our crime will continue to be out of control. So easy to rack up a bunch of meaningless arrests & pretend ur making the city safer.. Meanwhile the true bad guys run amok, unabated in their practice of violence, while the law abiding live in fear. GOOD JOB!!!!! When ur idea of police work is arrest first ask question later, ur really missing the big picture, ur efforts remain futile with no impact."
But MacArthur and co-host Larry "The Celebrity" Cab Driver, didn't press the guest of honor on the validity of police statistics or whether the police are targeting the wrong individuals. They asked him to recount the time he arrested a man on New Year's Eve, policies regarding cab drivers, and the pension mess. Callers had a host of complaints, however, and the closest thing to critical questioning was when MacArthur said "a lot of people" say police harass citizens and want to arrest first, ask questions later. Bealefeld said arrests were down 8 percent this year.
"So there's even less arrests [than the year before]? ... Wow," MacArthur replied. "I'm tired of hearing the murder count. The number is just a number. ... We never hear that arrests are going down."
I asked him why MacArthur afterwards why he didn't bring up some of his gripes. "While my adversarial relationship with the police department is no secret, the show was not the time to or place to grind my personal axe. Ultimately, my goal is to improve the long standing rift between Baltimore's majority black population and the BPD. Duking it out with the commissioner on air wold not have served this purpose."