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Posted at 7:37 AM ET, 03/10/2010

'Snowball fight' detective deserves a break

By editors

By Karen L. Bune

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier is absolutely correct in her apparent decision not to fire Michael Baylor, the detective who drew his weapon during a snowball fight in December [Local Digest, Metro, March 6]. For those quick to pass judgment, it is wise to remember that things are not always as they appear.

Detective Baylor, a three-decade veteran of the force, has a solid reputation and a proven work record and is respected by his colleagues in the criminal justice system. Confronted by a crowd who threw snowballs at his vehicle and, then, at his person, hearing taunts from a group known to have anarchists in its ranks, Detective Baylor had every reason to believe, as the sole officer on the scene, that he could be in a dangerous situation. Those who contend he was out of bounds perhaps reflect their own biases, such as a disrespect for authority and, possibly, a disdain for police specifically.

Detective Baylor did what he felt he needed to do under the circumstances, and those who passed judgment on him should walk a mile in his shoes. His expertise and experience are greatly needed in the city’s crime-fighting efforts. Chief Lanier would be wise to expeditiously remove him from “no contact” status and get him back to full duty on the street — where he belongs.

By editors  | March 10, 2010; 7:37 AM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, guns, police  
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Always question authority.

Posted by: jckdoors | March 10, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"...hearing taunts from a group known to have anarchists in its ranks"

Please explain a) how the author knows this and b) how it is relevant in drawing your weapon.

For the record I'm not taking a "side" and generally concur with Chief Lanier's decision, this weird aside just stuck out at me.

Posted by: mikenimzo | March 10, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

What is the b.s. about "a group known to have anarchists in its ranks"? Give me a break! It was a snowball fight, not some Al Queada cell. Please!

He grossly overreacted because people hit is precious vehicle with a snowball. While they shouldn't have hit his car, pulling his gun was outrageous!

Of course Lanier will just slap him on the wrist! That's what cops always do when they're allowed to discipline themselves.

Posted by: uh_huhh | March 10, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I am so sick of people trying to paint this as some kind of gathering of anarchists or an anti establishment protest. It wasn't. It was a group of people getting together to have a snowball fight. The same kind of fight that went over very well in Dupont Circle and in Time Square in New York.

Sure, whoever threw the snowballs at the car was wrong to do so. However, drawing a gun on a crowd (especially a crowd with children in it) is not an appropriate response.

Posted by: rickbman | March 10, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The British Police continually vote down being armed because they don't want to change the nature of British policing - making it much more hostile. They don't want officers immediately to rely on a weapon and they don't want officers to escalate a situation.

Obviously Michael Baylor know he's acted precipitously because at first he denied drawing his weapon, only admitting it when the footage proved otherwise. Is this really the type of person we want policing us? Someone who acts hastily and then doesn't even have the courage of his actions.

He needed to use his words - not his weapon.

Posted by: jackrussellterrier | March 10, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I am at least as worried about the Washington Post publishing a description of this crowd as "known anarchists" as I am about a frustrated policeman losing his temper.

Posted by: mikenimzo | March 10, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I know that the cop-haters will skew this forum, if only because so many of them don't have jobs and can therefore spend all day playing on the internet (or throwing snowballs) but Mike Baylor has served the people of DC faithfully for three decades--longer than many of those punk snowball-chuckers have even been alive--and I'd be happy to have him on my side when the criminals come around.

The rest of you just ask yourselves this question: When YOUR house is being broken into or a band of hoodlums is accosting you on a dark street, who would you want to see come along--Detective Baylor with his skills and zeal for police work or a band of face-masked white kids with snowballs in their hands?

Posted by: nola_exile | March 10, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

He should have shot a couple of them to make an example. That would have shut down that snowball throwing bullcrap right on the spot.

Posted by: DCtoBalto | March 10, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

If he was so professional and had so much experince then he should have known better than to react the way he did. Know one is suggesting that Det. Baylor be fired, and while the recommended discipliany action (a ten day suspension) is appropriate, it'll never happen.

Posted by: PracticalIndependent | March 10, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"as the sole officer on the scene, that he could be in a dangerous situation"

No one in the crown knew he was a cop until the police responded to the call of an armed man.

If an ordinary citizen got out of his car, pulled a gun on a group of people with snowballs, they would be taken away in handcuffs and charged.

You speak as if him being a police officer put him at risk, when in fact it put him above the law.

Posted by: BurtReynolds1 | March 10, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

He crossed the line. It's apparent that he has a screw loose and is a danger to those he's sworn to protect. Anyone who draws a weapon because of a snowball fight has an anger-management problem (politically correct term used loosely). He should have just walked away, but the fact that he felt threatened should be a red-flag warning.

Posted by: poescrow | March 11, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

Yes, treat him different. Coddle him. It was just a little thing, right? Baylor is special, more special than anyone else. "He did what he felt he needed to do". Huh? Pull a gun for the Evil Snowball? Your column is ignorant. Your argument is ignorant and the conclusion is ignorant.

Posted by: oldtire | March 11, 2010 5:51 AM | Report abuse

This article reflects the general ignorance about due process and the justice system that pervade our culture.

Excuses excuses..."known Anarchists", "disrespect for authority" what a joke. "He had ever reason to believe he was in a dangerous situation" What are you talking about. It was a snowball fight. It may have been chaotic. It have have been stressful for passersby. I'm may be have a pain in the butt for trying to drive
(through a Snow Emergency, i might add).

But chaos, regardless of what law-and-order types think, isn't illegal. I'd love for somebody to quote a law book that says the cops have the authority to control every situation in which they find themselves.

The cop and author of this article are equal examples where civics education has failed miserably in this country.

Posted by: JoeMck | March 11, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Anarchist in the crowd? Really? How many countries have fallen from snow ball fights? Is a threat with snow routine in some countries?

If he is such a good veteran of the force, why wouldn't he just follow procedure and call this in. There is a police station 3 blocks from the intersection. I'm sure his Hummvee would have been able to resist the evil snow balls long enough for backup to show up.

Bottom line, the guy showed dangerous disregard for public safety by pulling a gun because his car was hit by a snowball.

Might I add before this incident, the cop was driving a bit crazy. He did a U-turn on U St, and ran up a bit on the sidewalk almost hitting people.

Posted by: cashink2003 | March 11, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I don't think the cop needs to fired. Administrative punishment is sufficient for lying to superiors about the facts in the case.

However, this the most absurdly argued piece of journalism I've seen this year and appears to ignore facts like "there were cops already on site". I would be embarrassed to have granted you a college degree.

Posted by: FormerMCPSStudent | March 11, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"He should have shot a couple of them to make an example. That would have shut down that snowball throwing bullcrap right on the spot."
The above posting quote is the mindset of the police in general. If you do not immediately comply with their wishes you are considered "disorderly". I believe the Gestapo had the same attitude too.
"...known Anarchists in the group..."
I would like to know how this "officer" made that determination while driving by, then stopping to fend off a snowball? If anyone endangered anyone it was the cop by stopping and pulling a gun. Using the posters logic quoted above perhaps the crowd should have beat the crap out of this moron and shoved his gun in a rectal orifice. DC = District of Corruption this becomes more evident daily. The police everywhere are out of control and spend more time on military tactics [swat teams] than fighting crime. "Police judgment" and "internal investigations" are oxymorons.
Remember only you can protect yourself. If you expect the police to do that you are living in fantasy-land. They are just there to take the report after the crime has been committed.

Posted by: OhBrother67 | March 11, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I have been on the receiving end of people who think it is fun and games to keep hitting someone with snow balls when they have been asked to stop. Things get ugly when any group thinks it doesn't have to cut it out when asked to. It goes from fun to threatening behavior to assault really fast. I think the cop did right. These hooligans think couching bullying behavior in "it's just a snowball fight" is fair. Well I don't. Incidentally the guys(strangers) who hit my wife, my 5 year old and I( in our faces repeatedly)got their as*es kicked because I am a highly skilled fighter able to beat much larger guys and multiple opponents with ease. I also have a concealed carry permit and I was carrying. I just fought well enough that I didn't need it. Bullies beware!!

Posted by: ObservantOne | March 12, 2010 4:28 AM | Report abuse

I wasn't there and hence have no opinion about the police officer's actions.

I do, however, question the thinking and intententions of a mob (yes, mob, given the numbers involved) of people who chose to have a snowball fight in and across an intersection. People who had to drive or walk through that intersection or on that street did not choose to be in a snowball fight but were brought into it against their wishes.

I don't understand why a large group of people who want to have a snowball fight can't go to a park or vacant lot rather than impose their idea of fun on uninvolved passersby. My opinion is that the people who planned and participated in this snowball fight are self-centered jerks, with no respect for the rights of others. I don't think that makes them anarchists, but it does indicate that they think their "rights" are more important than anyone else's rights.

Posted by: vklip1 | March 13, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

"Known anarchists"? That term sounds right out of a McCarthy speech. I'm surprised the Post would print a somewhat crazy/fringe letter like that.

PS: ObservantOne, get some help before you crack.

Posted by: aconnbrad1 | March 13, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

This is not an article by the Post... it is an opinion letter sent in by a READER. Many of these comments dont seem to realize that fact

Posted by: louarmstrong | March 13, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Why is the Post printing stuff by Karen L. Bune, a known PG County police lackey and apologist for rogue officers? Support for Baylor by this lady is further proof that he is unfit for service anywhere, and should be removed from the public payroll.

Posted by: SydneyP | March 14, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Anarchists? Nah...more like hipster d-bags. Or maybe they were filming one of those idiotic Smirnoff commercials.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | March 15, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

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