- - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Few people made sense during the Baltimore riots and the indictment of six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray. But David Clarke, the sheriff of Milwaukee County in Wisconsin, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan provided two examples of those who did.

Sheriff Clarke, who has emerged in recent months as a beacon of clarity, appeared on several media outlets, including an interview with Fox News.

“Like Baltimore, like Ferguson, like New York and many other areas where failed liberal government policies have led to high unemployment, chronic poverty, failing schools, this is what besets the Baltimore area,” he said. “Ninety percent of the homicide victims in the Baltimore area are black as are 90 percent of the suspects. That’s a bigger problem than Freddie Gray.”

A former homicide detective, Sheriff Clarke, who is black, also criticized Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for what he considered her hasty decision to indict the police officers.

“I’m not going to silently stand by and watch my brother officers, offered up as human sacrifices, thrown like red meat to an angry mob, just to appease this angry mob,” Sheriff Clarke told Fox News in another interview.

The sheriff called upon Ms. Mosby to recuse herself from the prosecution because she has engaged in what he described as politics rather than justice.

In announcing the indictments Friday, the state’s attorney said her office had conducted a “parallel” investigation to an ongoing Baltimore Police Department inquiry.

That comment stunned those performing the departmental probe — as outlined in an exclusive report in The Baltimore Sun, which has done a commendable job in its coverage.

The Sun’s Justin George received access to the investigation, which painstakingly proceeded through the events that resulted in Gray’s death.

At least 30 people put together a checklist of 145 issues that needed to be resolved in the investigation, including a precise timeline after Gray’s arrest. The task force “had not expected the state’s attorney’s office to act so soon,” The Sun reported.

After watching the state’s attorney’s news conference about the indictments of six police officers, the task force members went back to work. “Plenty of items remained on the police task force’s checklist,” the newspaper said.

Like Sheriff Clarke, Mr. Hogan, the Maryland governor, should receive high marks for his candor and competence.

A Republican who took office earlier this year, Mr. Hogan and his top aides set up shop in Baltimore almost immediately after the riots occurred. He consulted with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, but he stayed in the background until asked to bring in the Maryland National Guard to control the rioting and to enforce a curfew. The governor also walked the streets of West Baltimore, where few people voted for him in last year’s election.

In the increasingly secular world of politics, Mr. Hogan actually called for a day of prayer. On Sunday, Archbishop William Lori joined the governor at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church, which stands in the neighborhood near where Gray was arrested. The parishioners gave the archbishop and the governor a vigorous ovation.

“When I came into the city it was burning,” Mr. Hogan told reporters after the service. “But since then I’ve seen incredible acts of kindness. I’ve seen neighbors helping neighbors. I’ve seen a community that cares about each other. It’s a great way to end the week.”

Mr. Hogan and Sheriff Clarke provided the inspiring words and the tough love the people of Baltimore needed as the city starts to deal with myriad issues.

Christopher Harper is a longtime reporter who teaches journalism at Temple University. He can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @charper51.

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