In 2012, three years before the fatal injury of Freddie Gray in police custody, then Baltimore police officer Michael A. Wood Jr. self-published a 500-page manual on ethical policing that curbed his career.
If you already know who Wood is, it’s probably not for his book, but rather for a string of tweets from June in which he listed “things I’ve seen & participated in, in policing that is corrupt, intentional or not.”
Included were claims of routine brutality, enabled “by a good ol’ boy network” and “us-versus-them rhetoric.” The tweets made him an instant celebrity and prompted a flurry of articles and interviews.
According to Wood, his self-publishing of a law-enforcement manual that envisioned a world where policing is consistently “professional, competent, ethical, compassionate, and loyal to the United States Constitution” was received rather poorly by its target audience three years ago, at least locally. He blames the guidebook for his sudden lack of promotions and increase in desk work in the last few years of before his 2014 retirement.
But with the public eye turning toward police reform nationwide in the wake of several high-profile tragedies, Wood’s calls for a radical overhaul of police culture may finally be heard, and hopefully, followed.
A recent article in Pacific Standard gives a hopeful sign that Wood — and more to the point, his call to action — has life beyond his 15 minutes as a Twitter confessionalist. The focus has shifted from the shocking content of his allegations to the nature of his prescription, for example, a trauma-informed” response to rape cases and “evidence-based” (rather than stats-obsessed) policing strategies.
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