Group turns out to ‘Back the Blue’ on In­de­pen­dence Day

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

A small group with a large mes­sage took time out on the morn­ing of July 4 to de­liver a state­ment: we sup­port our lo­cal po­lice.

Around 20 peo­ple gath­ered in the Lo­gan Vil­lage Shop­ping Cen­ter at 9 a.m. and marched through Old Dun­dalk to Her­itage Park.

Their mes­sage: “De­fend the Po­lice” and “Back the Blue.”

“De­fund­ing the Po­lice is not an op­tion,” or­ga­nizer Scott Pap­pas said.

“We can’t de­fund the po­lice. First of all, it would hurt this dis­trict more than oth­ers.

“De­fund­ing the po­lice hurts the poor­est of the poor. I’m not say­ing we’re des­ti­tute here, but we do have some eco­nomic is­sues.”

Among those is­sues, Pap­pas said: 35 per­cent of the res­i­dents in the 7th Coun­cil­matic Dis­trict have Sec­tion 8 vouch­ers; there is a large pop­u­la­tion of el­derly cit­i­zens who need help; and the dis­trict con­tains the largest num­ber (in the county) of needy fam­i­lies with chil­dren un­der the age of 18.

“Take those funds away, and the po­lice can’t do their jobs,” Pap­pas said. “We can­not per­mit the po­lice to be de­funded.”

Bal­ti­more County an­nounced last month a se­ries of ini­tia­tives last month di­rected at re­form­ing the po­lice and re­duc­ing po­lice ag­gres­sive ac­tion.

How­ever, sta­tis­tics sup­plied by the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Lodge 4 show that, since 2010, Bal­ti­more County Po­lice have seen and steady and sig­nif­i­cant de­crease in use of force in­ci­dents, in­ci­dents where of­fi­cers have drawn their weapons, and com­plaints.

This de­crease over 10 years has hap­pened de­spite the county pop­u­la­tion grow­ing, and a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in calls for ser­vice.

Of­fi­cers speak­ing off the record say the po­lice re­form ini­tia­tives are “de­mor­al­iz­ing” for mem­bers of the force and “pan­der­ing” to those who see a prob­lem where none ex­ists.

“We’ve got to help out our po­lice,” Pap­pas said. “And they’re ‘our’ po­lice, not their’s. They do a heck of a job, for what lit­tle money they make.

“Ev­ery day, they wake up and have to put a gun on the side of their body, and they have to go through all that day won­der­ing if they’re go­ing to have to pull that gun out and use it.

“And they don’t want to use it. They just want to go home to their wife and kids.”

PHOTO BY BILL GATES

A group show­ing sup­port for the Bal­ti­more County Po­lice Depart­ment marches along a street en route to Her­itage Park.

PHOTO BY BILL GATES

Peo­ple ral­ly­ing to show their sup­port for po­lice gather in the Lo­gan Vil­lage Shop­ping Cen­ter be­fore march­ing to Her­itage Park.

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