BALTIMORE — Kevin Moore videotaped the April 12 arrest of his longtime friend Freddie Gray, drawing international attention to Baltimore. Now, the man with the cellphone camera promises to keep it focused on police in his West Baltimore neighborhood.
“As bad as I wanted to put the camera down and help him and to really get those officers off him, I couldn’t because I knew somebody had to record this,” Moore says about the April 12 arrest.
Moore says he’s joined the citizen’s group “Baltimore Copwatch.” The group’s Facebook page says it was formed in 2011 to help “people to police the police.”
“It’s not a white versus black thing. It’s a police versus civilian thing,” Moore says.” And the most powerful weapon that we have against the police right now is a camcorder or any type of record that you can get against them performing those police brutal events.”
The Baltimore Sun reported last September that the city has paid out $5.7 million to settle lawsuits over charges of police brutality.
But Franklin concedes the reality on the streets doesn’t always match training in the academy.“They (Baltimore City Police) receive very, very good training,” says retired-Major Neill Franklin, a 23-year veteran of the Maryland State Police and a former commander of Baltimore City Police education and training from 2000 to 2004.
“One of the things they hear when they first come out of the academy is forget all that stuff you learned in the academy, we’re going to teach you how it’s done on the streets, how you police on the streets and I found that very disturbing,” Franklin says.
Franklin, who spent most of his career in narcotics enforcement and criminal investigation says some officers may act aggressively in high crime areas, fearful for their own safety and concerned that the suspect they are questioning or about to arrest may be armed.
“They have a very, very tough job in a very, very tough city. People do carry guns. People, unfortunately, do want to hurt the police, people do want to hurt each other,” Franklin says.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts have both spoken out in favor of body cameras for police, but the matter remains bogged down in the Baltimore City Council.
In the meantime, Freddie Gray’s friend says he’ll be on the lookout in his West Baltimore neighborhood for any rough stuff from police.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’ve been shooting my camera and I have the right to shoot my camera.”