Monday, April 29, 2013

Gang Map of Toledo

Toledo, OH.  When the current mayor of Toledo tossed the previous baby kisser into the gutter and remodeled the penthouse at One Government Center he promised to run a transparent government.  Given that I live next door in Sylvania Township I don't have a dog in this fight, but a recent tempest in this abandoned monument to greed, corruption and incompetence have distracted me from my regular duties of personal lawn growth quality care manager.

Bluntly, the local bird cage liner demanded that Toledo Chief of Police Derrick Diggs turn over a map of gang territories.  Chief Diggs declined to do so, and the flag dropped.  Keep reading to find out why both sides of this debate are behaving like idiots.

You want to piss off a police officer?  Tell him he can't arrest you.  Those are the infamous last words of half the drunks in the tank right before the cuffs go on.

"You can't arrest me!  I know my rights!"

Lord help us all, police have to deal with people who actually believe that crap.  This is not unlike John Robinson Block  the owner of the Toledo Blade demanding to see a map of Toledo that the police have which clearly shows which territory belongs to which gang, or gang subset.  Police Chief Derrick Diggs declined to produce this map, and Mayor Michael P. Bell backed him.  I think it's worth noting that Mike Bell was head hose dragger before he became mayor, so I don't think there's any love lost between Bell and Diggs, although I could be wrong.

The excuse that Chief Diggs gave was that the map was part of an investigation, and so was not a public document.  Here's from The Blade:

On gang map, Mayor Bell ignores the public's right to know
When Mike Bell ran for mayor almost four years ago he promised to run an open government if elected; he promised to be transparent. But on the important issue of gangs in Toledo, and on many other issues, the mayor has practiced the opposite of what he preached.
The people of Toledo have a right to know about gang activity in this city. They have a right to know where it is. They are entitled to see the “gang map” that tells where gang activity is most dangerous and intense.
Here we have a variant on the 'you can't arrest me' theme.  I have no idea what really transpired between Bell, Diggs and Block (sounds like a law firm, doesn't it?) but I'm something of a student of human nature and interaction, and I can practically guarantee that all three of these men have egos far larger than the desks they sit behind, all of them are used to having sycophants on all sides and the one word none of them likes to hear is 'no'.  I'll also trot the race card right out there and say that Bell and Diggs probably don't agree on much, but they can agree that whitey don't be comin' roun' da crib runnin' his mouf... okay, maybe they didn't say it to each other, but I'll give you six to one both thought it when shit came to sweat.

My point here is that if there is a map, and I don't know just how The Blade knows there is, why not just hand Block a copy?  The part about the map being used in ongoing investigations is stable dressing, to put it politely, and publishing the map isn't going to put anyone in danger.  No, this is the result of a pissing contest between Bell, Diggs and Block and the Toledo taxpayers get to pay for the attorney.  'Way to go, Bell.

For my part, I don't think the map in question exists, or if it does it's a scribbled up version of a AAA city of Toledo map that's 25 years out of date.  Think about Ockham's razor for a second and bear with me.

Say you're a cop and you patrol the streets.  It's August in Toledo and the temperature is making life miserable for everyone.  You go on calls in a rough section of town.  Public housing developments, run down houses, people standing around on the sidewalk hoping you'll get shot - no, I'm not kidding and if you think I cam, just go ask Charleston Thug Life.  The high point of your evening is trying to sort out a drunken domestic call involving multiple families where there might be firearms.  You're there along with three other units, and in the midst of the Tyrone Theater some juveniles set off a bunch of firecrackers in a pitch dark alley close by, and you damn near ruin your shorts.  The onlookers think this is hilarious which makes you want to pull your shotgun out and start a fireworks show of your very own, but you can't do that.  So after an eight hour shift of this crap, you get a memo from the Assistant Director of the Gang Violence Task Force, and this genius wants you to update the gang territory map.

Does anyone reading this drivel actually believe for one second that the police, any police who have a clue, are going to keep a current map of gang boundaries?  Color coded or something?  Maybe each policeman must keep a box of colored pencils in his locker so as to update the map at the end of his shift?  No.  Hell no.

What I think is most likely is that the police who have a clue as to which gang is prevalent in a given area will train the cops who lack that knowledge.  At most, they may illustrate this training with a very basic map of the city, but that's not a formal document by any stretch of the imagination.  What I think is even more likely is that if the police happen to notice a group of Hispanics who are all dressed alike loitering in a predominantly black neighborhood, they will deduce that something isn't quite right and roust the Hispanics.  Likewise if the police detect a middle aged white boy in an all black neighborhood, guess who gets rousted? Yeah, and give the man a cigar.

There is no map, but just try selling that to The Blade, because they know there really is a map and the police won't give it up.

So John Block is denied.  He files suit and then, because he doesn't like to be kept waiting, he assigns a reporter and a photographer to the project and tells them to find out who's on first, gang wise, and draw up a map. Enter Taylor Dungjen - Toledo Gangs Series Reporter and Amy E. Voigt - Toledo Gangs Series Photographer.  The two ladies head out and try to get people to talk to them about gangs.  No, seriously.

Having found one or more gang members that are willing to teach them the lingo and show them the boundaries of Toledo gangs, they come up with a map which The Blade published.  Supposedly the map is accurate, although I'm not real sure how you'd go about proving the accuracy.  What do gangs do, anyway? Is there some sort of special division of the zoning department that deals with gang territories and boundary lines?

Now that we the people at long last have a map, we can see which gang we're supposed to belong to, or apply to for membership.  Or something.  Maybe there's rules, like for instance if you get robbed by a gang not of your territory then they can't do that.  These things matter.

I, living in Sylvania Township, don't have a gang.  I am gang deprived and am feeling a bit left out.  I'll get over it.

If Bell and Diggs were half as smart as they think they are, they'd steal a copy of Block's map, change the colors and maybe a few boundary lines, add a subset or two and quietly give it back to Block.

"Okay John, we don't want any more trouble.  Here's your map.  No hard feelings, right?"

Congratulations to Taylor and Amy for pulling this one off.  The two got results without being molested, assaulted or springing a leak.


CWMartin said...

You can borrow one of the gangs from here in Ft Wayne, where they didn't exist until 25 years after the first "Vice Lords" graffiti started going up. I guess no matter where you're from in this area, your politicos are afraid of the word "gang".

Mad Jack said...

Thanks CW. I may take you up on that.

I think the baby kissers in Toledo are fumbling for a PC term that they haven't quite found yet.

We don't have gangs, you understand, but only unsupervised youth.