Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just one last post on the DC snowball thing, I swear

Reason senior editor Radley Balko had a good article last week summing it all up.

Balko writes this about Assistant Chief Pete Newsham, who heads the MPD's investigative services bureau:

Newsham's rush to clear Baylor's name came before the slightest bit of investigation. Newsham also quickly deferred to Baylor's stellar reputation and years of service, distinguishing the noble public servant from the unruly yahoos making accusations against him. That would be fine if Newsham was Baylor's attorney. But he isn't. He's in charge of the MPDC unit responsible for investigating officer misconduct. And here he was disseminating clear and provable lies.

Forget the gun-waving Baylor. This is the real scandal. You'd be awfully naive to think the only time Newsham has publicly lied to defend a MPDC officer accused of misconduct was coincidentally the one time the officer's accusers were tech-savvy hipsters armed with cell phones and video cameras. D.C. Police Chief Kathy Lanier's investigation into the incident ought to go well beyond Baylor. From where did the false information Newsham perpetuated originate? Why was Newsham, whose position is that of a trusted liason between the department and the public, so quick to use bad information to defend a fellow officer? Shouldn't this incident call his judgment into question in other cases? Is he still fit for the job?

And in response to the Washington Post's Marc Fisher, he writes:

Instead of turning his nose up at new media and social networking, Fisher should be asking himself whether, if it weren't for Twitter, YouTube, blogs, and alternative weeklies like the City Paper, the Post would have ever gotten this story right. Or whether the Post would have eventually given credence to Baylor's accusers had this happened not on a busy U-Street intersection teeming with wired gentrifiers, but in D.C.'s poorer, blacker Southeast quadrant, where confrontations with the police are more common yet less covered, and where corroborating video would be less likely.


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