Cops and Mobbers: Lessons from Baltimore

In this dangerous age, it’s critical that we law-abiding citizens work together for our common security. Whether the threat is a transnationally organized cyber crime syndicate, an ISIS zealot or radical climate change, one thing is becoming more and more apparent: we’re all in this together. Consequently, we need to do a better job of coordinating integrating our security efforts, in and between the public and private arenas. The recent events in Baltimore illustrate perfectly how far we have yet to go.

In any contemporary shared security model (wherein agile, interconnected prevention, protection and response trumps siloed, perimeter-based defense), law enforcement plays an essential role. They are the “last mile” defenders and first responders. When the ships hit the dam, it’s the police you call for help. Unfortunately, police resources in this country are still swinging a blunt club. This is not an indictment against individual officers, but rather the shortage of targeted intelligence and real-time strategic guidance that they have to work with. Repairing the erosion of trust between citizens and law enforcement is a long process, and it starts with making better, more informed decisions in the heat of the moment.

At a high level, what we can say for sure is that the Baltimore police could have managed the crisis better. They could and should have been more precise. Their intelligence should have been derived from a more comprehensive security network (e.g. linked with and benefitting from the resources of local private sector security resources). To be fair, huge strides in intelligence-led policing, predictive crime prevention and several other “smart” law enforcement areas have been made over the past decade. But we still have a long way to go.

Former football star Ray Lewis made a passionate plea to the citizens of Baltimore this week, emphasizing their community was being damaged, and that all in the city — officials, merchants, police, companies and citizens — needed to cooperate as much as possible in the crisis. “We must come together,” Lewis said. “We can stop the violence as a community.”

Policing is a critical part of any community — not only in a crisis, but every day. To be effective, policing needs to be more transparent, focused and intelligent. One key to becoming more effective is not to segment policing into an isolated, compartmentalized service, but to integrate it more completely (and more intelligently) into the community at large. Ray Lewis got it right.