Tag Archives: Montgomery Police Department

MPD: Annual Reports

Recently, we used the Desmonte Leonard manhunt as an excuse to give an overview of our local police department. It was nothing major, just a look at some of the civic leaders and a few of the MPD basics, attempting to be as honest as possible, while admitting the limitations of our knowledge.

In that post, we mentioned that the MPD has a section of its website called “Annual Reports.” Sadly, there has not been an annual report since 2009. And 2008 is listed but not hyperlinked on the site. That means if I want to look at the most recent “annual” public reports of my local police department, I’m stuck with reports from 2009 (three years ago) and 2007 (five years ago). What’s in ’em? Let’s take a look! {Note: Feel free to download the PDFs and follow along at home … at least until they pull them down from the site!}

2007: A lovely year. The iPhone 2G is released. Seung-Hui Cho shoots up Virginia Tech, killing 32. The Dixie Chicks won a bunch of Grammy Awards, and George W. Bush is still President of the United States. Here in July of 2012, the fine year of 2007 is the second-most-recent year for which we can find an annual report from the Montgomery Police Department.

Art Baylor is the Chief during the heady days of 2007. Page 2 of the report offers the table of contents, along with four blurry photos, two of which are from the zoo. The page employs the font known as comic sans, which three years later would be employed by Dan Gilbert in a hilariously petulant public letter about LeBron James.

Page 3 is a letter from then-Chief Baylor to then-Mayor Bobby Bright. Baylor mentions having over 800 sworn officers, which contrasts with the figure given by current chief Kevin Murphy (510). Evidently, from January 2008 (the date of Baylor’s letter) until July 2012 (which is when I’m looking at Murphy’s webpage), the MPD lost 300-plus police officers. This is profoundly shocking. Evidently crime can decrease while laying off 300 police officers. And that’s important to note: Everyone says crime is decreasing.

Baylor lists several initiatives that I have never heard of: the Crime Reduction Team (CRT), the “Digital Patroller,” and “the Omega Crime Mapping System.” Do these programs still exist? Unclear.

Great Seal

The next page is numbered page 2, although it is the fourth page in the report, counting the cover. From here on out, we’ll use the numbering from the bottom of the pages of the report. This page is notable because it contains the “Great Seal of the City of Montgomery,” which we heard (from current Mayor Todd Strange) that the city has since discontinued. We are not so sure that this controversial seal has been fully retired, but it’s interesting to see it in an official city publication.

Page 3 is the org chart of the MPD. This is a useful document that helps the average citizen understand how the department is structured. Running a police department is tough work.

Page 4 contains actual stats for the police chaplain. I guess if you don’t document how many “direct contacts” you have, preaching to officers and such, you might get cut out of the budget. Wouldn’t want that. Cops need tax-funded “pastoral care and spiritual guidance,” that they can’t get from their own churches.

Page 5 shows that the ’06 MPD budget was $38.5 million, raised to $41.8 million in ’07. More on this below.

Page 8 suggests that in 2006, there were 28 murders handled by the detective division. In 2007? up to 46. This is not mentioned by Chief Baylor in his cheery introductory letter. Looking ahead to the ’09 report, it claims that there were 87 murders in 2008, and 83 in ’09. If I’m reading the numbers right, that’s a heck of a spike. Back to the ’07 report:

Page 9 suggests that $16,000 worth of livestock were reported stolen within MPD jurisdiction in ’06. This seems like a lot of livestock for a dense urban area. $4,500 worth was recovered. And if that’s shocking, nearly $27,000 worth of livestock was stolen in 2007, with none of it recovered. That is a lot of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and/or pigs.

Page 10 suggests that 39 arrests were made in ’07 at local schools. This trend is awful. Kids getting arrested at school is a travesty. Birmingham City Schools are being sued for actually using mace on students, so I guess we can be glad we aren’t doing that. Also note that 24 arrests were made for sodomy. Given Lawrence v. Texas, it would be interesting to know why arrests were made under Alabama’s anti-sodomy statute and not other sex abuse prohibitions.

Page 13: A surprising number of dogs (2,500) were picked up. Only 280 citations issued. What was the one animal tranquilized? How can they not tell us? I’m going to go ahead and assume it was a Komodo dragon.

Pages 14-15: District 4, which is up Federal Drive, had 23,584 service calls. The next highest number of calls was from District 10, at 16,913. What is going on in District 4 that caused them to call the cops 6,000 times more than the next highest district?

Page 19: Evidently, MPD still calls Asian people “Oriental.” Sigh.

Page 22: Seems that 22 people died in 2006 in traffic accidents, a total that skyrocketed in 2007 to 34. Increased texting while driving? Shouldn’t these totals go down from year to year as cars become safer? Unsurprisingly, it’s safest to be on the roads on Sundays and most dangerous on Fridays. The list of “most frequent accident” locations is a fantastic idea and should be heavily-circulated information.

Page 28: There are lots of caption-free photo montages in the report. While it probably makes sense to the officers reading the report, to civilians seeking a greater understanding of the police department, a ton of photographs with no captions is not all that helpful (or interesting).

The 2009 Report:

Gone is the sweet cover page with fireworks over the river. The ’09 report begins with a bunch of portraits and email addresses. The interesting thing here is that the ’09 chaplain made 309 direct contacts (in person). In ’07, the chaplain reported making 6,245. Are we to believe that Rev. Jackson made TWENTY times the number of visits that Rev. Morris made? What happened?

Also gone in the ’09 report are the helpful page numbers. Page 2 contains the budget figures. Using the ’07 report, we can create the following chart, showing the city’s spending on the MPD:

I guess the collapsing economy didn’t hit MPD all that much. The city had to cancel curbside recycling pickup, but when the economy cratered, the most that could be cut from MPD’s budget was a million bucks from ’08 to ’09. It seems likely that federal stimulus money (from ever-reviled Obama) came in to boost things in ’08. Making things extra bizarre is the letter from Baylor saying MPD had 800 sworn officers in 2008, and Chief Murphy’s current total of 510. The mayor recently said we have 524 sworn officers, which he says is the highest number in city history. Maybe gasoline costs went up faster than I’m calculating, but fortunately Montgomery is free of any professional journalists who’d pay attention to municipal budget issues.

Page 5: It’s notable that the value of stolen livestock has plummeted since ’06 and ’07. Also another mysterious space-filling photo montage is probably cool if you know the people in the pictures, but is otherwise incomprehensible.

Page 6: With only 24 arrests for sodomy in the ’07 report, ’09 figures show a sodomy epidemic of 68 arrests that year. What is going on with Montgomery-based sodomites?

Page 14: At first, there didn’t seem to be much to report about the value of drugs confiscated by MPD in 2009. $12.8 million in cocaine? Sounds reasonable. How much was it in ’07?

Holy crap! The 2007 report (on page 19) claims that MPD confiscated $371 million worth of cocaine in 2007. This is evidently more than a single typo. The total amount of drugs claimed confiscated? $372,823,395. Someone typed this out and published it. That total represents more in cocaine confiscated in Montgomery than the wealthiest state in the nation plans to spend on school construction and upgrades, a project that will employ 11,650 Marylanders. A news report from ’09 suggests that 100 kilos were grabbed in one bust, worth $10 million. How could they have possibly gotten $371 million worth of cocaine? Maybe somebody ought to proofread these reports once in a while.

It may also bear noting that in ’07 there were 433 SWAT training hours. In ’09? Merely 194. I guess the SWAT team got all the training it needed back in the day.

Pages 18-22: Five more full pages of captionless photo montages. The stats on arrests may not add up from year to year, but these annual reports sure are full of anonymous people getting plaques. Look, a baby! And a guy at his desk!

All in all, the reports are fun to look at. They raise as many questions as they answer, namely, why can’t the MPD figure out a way to put the report online every year. Or maybe they just stopped producing them. We have no idea. Still, when you are a taxpaying resident of a city, funding a $44 million police department, it’s good to know about the ways that your tax dollars are being used.

MPD: The Hunt for Desmonte

“Are you following what is going on with the Montgomery Police?”

My brother was texting me.

I had been out of the country. I had not been following what was going on with my hometown police department.

“It’s like something out of The Simpsons,” he texted.

Desmonte Leonard: Fugitive

The newspaper from Seattle carried the following lead paragraph:

Police vowed Tuesday to search again if they have to after a night of probing a house with tear gas and thermal sensors failed to find the suspect in a shooting near Auburn University that killed three people.

A guy named Desmonte Leonard was the target. He was charged with three counts of capital murder related to a shooting during a pool party in Auburn. The dead included two former Auburn football players. Leonard was also accused of wounding three others (two of whom were also Auburn football players).

It is probably worth saying up front that this would not be national news if the dead people had not at one point played college football.

So Leonard was on the loose, and there was a $30,000 reward out for his capture. And since he was from our fair city, Montgomery, it became big news when MPD tactical teams descended on a Montgomery house, searching for Leonard. Local, state, and federal cops were all there, sure they had cornered their man in an old fashioned stand-off. Oh, and the media was there, tweeting real-time “coverage.”

Evidently, MPD had received “credible tips” that Leonard was in the house.

“We will do it again if we have to,” Dawson said. “We will respond in the same way.”

Do what again? Oh, you know, late night stand-off, media circus, SWAT teams using thermal imaging to search the house, cops saying that they heard coughing and moving in the attic, cops storming the house and drilling holes in the ceiling and tearing the whole place to shreds. No Desmonte Leonard, who, oh by the way, later turned himself in.

There was no one at house late Tuesday morning. Through the windows, at least two holes were visible in the ceiling and the floor was littered with pieces of drywall and insulation. Scraps of insulation also littered the walkway outside the house.

Oh, and:

Authorities scoured the attic and air conditioning ducts and drilled holes through pieces of the house. They vowed to repay the house’s owner or rebuild the structure.

So we have dozens of police cruisers, trucks, fire vehicles and vans surrounding a house in a middle-class neighborhood in Montgomery. National media attention is being paid, especially because of the awful symbiotic echo effect that happens when the “news” media gets tangled up with the 24/7 amplification chamber of the “sports” media. Think of a million idiots screaming into a particle accelerator.

Before we dig further, a bit more info from the Boston Globe, which contained reporting from the AP’s Bob Johnson:

• The MPD were acting off a tip they said involved a man claiming to have dropped Leonard off at the house and then called U.S. marshals. “It was that tip, and another 911 call from a woman who said she walked in from work to find the alleged gunman on her sofa, that led authorities to the neighborhood. At one point, they believed they heard movement and coughing in the attic, but their search turned up nothing.”

• They swarmed the house with tear gas, spy gear and assault rifles, and their time there was “a tense, nine-hour search.”

• Two men already have been charged with misleading authorities during the search. MPD Chief Kevin Murphy said the man who ferried Leonard to the home could be arrested on similar charges.

“We did everything right,” said Murphy. “Obviously we didn’t take Mr. Leonard into custody yet. But we will.”

Who are MPD?

Look, I’m not claiming this was a Grade-A Debacle. The cops acted on some info, trashed a house, said they’d pay for it, and their guy ended up behind bars and is awaiting a fair trial. But what is interesting is that the Leonard press conference gave Montgomery residents some insight into the top tiers of the MPD. Chief Murphy was quoted above. He is not to be confused with Chris Murphy, the city’s “public safety director.” The latter Murphy was quoted at the press conference saying that Leonard had some sort of connection to the house that was raided “through someone other than the owner.” That connection remains unclear as of this writing.

And then there’s Mayor Todd Strange, who told the press that there was 15 to 20 minutes between the receipt of the tip and the arrival at the front door of the home that was raided. That’s a pretty darn fast response time.

Let’s take them in order:

Mayor Todd Strange – Mayor Strange took office after Mayor Bobby Bright went off to Washington D.C. to be a one-term Representative in Congress. We weren’t here during Bright’s reign as mayor, but we did do enough research to know that the mayor before Bright, a man named Emory Folmar, had a reputation (vis-a-vis police-community relations) that could only be described as notorious. Strange comes off as an exceptionally laid back guy, more than a shade of the aspects of George W. Bush making people say, “That’s the kind of guy you could have a beer with.” He is not a grim-faced authoritarian. He seems to genuinely want economic development based on downtown entertainment and people having (safe) fun. He seems far more interested in profits than crushing skulls or commanding racist stormtroopers like Folmar did.

Chris Murphy – Public Safety Director – An Auburn police officer who joined the Secret Service. Murphy became the head of the Alabama Department of Public Safety, which is the branch of state government that includes the state troopers and the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. Appointed by Riley, served until 2010. The current head of the DPS in the Bentley Administration is named Hugh McCall.

And what is the Montgomery Department of Public Safety? It “was formed in 2010 by combining three agencies – Fire, Police and Communications – into a single municipal department to streamline safety-related operations, increase efficiency and better serve the public.”

We’re not totally clear on how Public Safety interrelates with the MPD, but like most government agencies, there are probably turf battles in there somewhere. Fortunately, our city doesn’t have any journalists that look into things like, nor do we have any real idea about how the city is split into precincts, or whether funding for law enforcement is going up or down or staying about the same. We assume that because there have not been any major scandals, things must be fine.

Kevin Murphy – Chief of Police – As of this writing, Chief Murphy’s bio page says that he is in charge of “510 sworn police officers and 200 civilians.” That’s a good-sized force. He took over from Art Baylor, who became a federal marshal in the Obama Administration.

If you ever flip around TV channels, you’d know that MPD has a TV show, which is something like the infamous show, COPS, and something (sadly) also similar to the fictional parody show, Reno 911. We’d love to know how much the city gets paid for letting TV crews do ridealongs.

The MPD obviously has a complicated history, and that’s putting it mildly. Not withstanding the bad reputation from the Folmar era, there is also all of the other stuff from the Civil Rights Movement. If you want to read something really crazy, try to get your hands on a self-published book from 2006 called “Another View of the Civil Rights Movement” by Drue H. Lackey. If the name strikes you as familiar, it’s because Lackey is the officer present in the famous picture of Rosa Parks being fingerprinted, kicking off the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Lackey’s ’06 book is a paranoid and defensive thing, an effort to show that the “white man’s” side of the civil rights story has been neglected by historians. Since his time as MPD Chief of Police, he ended up associating with some unsavory characters.

This means nothing for Chief Murphy, other than he has a tough job on his hands and probably a lot of folks in our community that refuse to distinguish Murphy from Lackey (who was chief from 1967-1970), or any of the other MPD cops that could help a million people in thankless fashion and have their reputations permanently tarnished by a Todd Road Incident.

The MPD also have a link on their webpage to a sub-page called “Annual Reports.” Evidently, MPD has been too busy solving crimes to produce an annual report since 2009. And the 2008 one isn’t actually linked on the site. And that means if you want to read the two most recent annual reports on their site, you get one that is three years old and one that is five years old. Transparency!

To be fair, they do seem to keep a little more up to date on the crime stats, here listed through 2010. But what are these “annual reports?” Next time, we’ll take a look of what we can find of these reports. But for now, we are glad that Desmonte Leonard is in custody and that the MPD is out there, doing thankless work in a world that increasingly views government spending on basic services like roads and police officer salaries (and pensions) as wasteful Socialism. Here’s hoping more people will get to know the cops, and prevent them from turning into the big metro department up the road, which evidently has a problem with officers being lunatic arsonists.

Picture of the Week: 6/13/11 – 6/19/11

 

When you're a) the cops and b) the driver of a Camaro this bitchin', you probably need to park it this far from the curb.