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Public safety in the digital age: Blogger surrounded by police broadcasts the negotiations live on the Internet.

Click here to listen to the negotiations between a police lieutenant and blogger

Click here to follow on Facebook (hit “like”)

In March of 1977 a group of Hanafi Muslims got the attention of the world after taking over three buildings in Washington, DC, killing two men, wounding another, and holding hostages for 39 hours. They forced one of the hostages to contact a local radio station and relay their demands. It is just one of many examples where hostage takers, or those barricaded and surrounded by law enforcement, have attempted to get their message broadcast by radio and TV stations and printed in newspapers.

What happened in Baltimore last night is an important reminder that this whole concept of message transmission during such a standoff has changed. It’s another example of how the Internet and social media have greatly impacted the world of public safety. As we have often talked about here and in talks around the country, for better or worse, you no longer need to own a radio or TV transmitter or a printing press to reach the public. Those tools are in the hands of everyone.

A few years ago I predicted it wouldn’t be long before we would see video of a rescue at a fire shot and posted to YouTube by both the rescuer and rescuee. What James MacArthur did last night may be the law enforcement equivilent.

MacArthur, the publisher of the blog The Baltimore Spectator, had his home surrounded by a Baltimore City Police Department tactical unit serving an arrest warrant on a 2009 gun case. MacArthur broadcast live via Internet radio the negotiations to surrender with Lt. Jason Yerg who was attempting to get the blogger to come out of his house peacefully. The recording of that more than two hour conversation can be found here.


Police said Frank James  MacArthur, 47, emerged late Saturday evening after having remained inside his  home when officers sought to serve a warrant issued in June by his probation  agent stemming from a 2009 gun case. Authorities said MacArthur had missed a  court date.

With a tactical unit  outside, MacArthur broadcast his talks with a police negotiator on The Baltimore  Spectator website. He expressed frustration about his treatment by police,  telling listeners, “I am surrounded by a bunch of men with guns.”

Adam Bednar, North Baltimore Patch:

According to electronic court records, MacArthur was wanted for  violation of probation regarding gun charges filed in 2009. Police went  to his address in the 400 block of McKewin Avenue to take him into  custody. When he refused to answer the door, a standoff ensued.

Eventually a police SWAT team was called to the scene because of  police concerns about messages posted to  MacArthur’s Twitter account during the past few days.

“What we’re seeing going on is an abuse of SWAT. I’m seeing that the Baltimore Police Department … that because  of something said on Twitter allegedly, we so quickly end up with a  SWAT situation. This is highly disturbing to me as a citizen of this  town. That it’s so easy to get a SWAT deployment,” MacArthur said. 


Comments - Add Yours

  • He

    Crazy !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • My Mom

    This guy cooked his meal for the last week, now doesn’t want to eat it. He is obviously very disgruntled and angry with the Police department and they responded appropriately. This guy is a jerkoff.

  • Fire21

    Whatever you do these days, just make sure it’s done correctly!!! The world is watching!!

  • JustSayin’

    I feel sorry for this guy.
    No, really.!!!

    Why, you ask.??
    Well, he’s obviously Stuck-on-Stupid

    Let’s run this thing down …

    Breaks the Law then receives Probation instead of Jail Time
    BUT violates the rules of his probation … STUPID

    The violation of his probation include the word, Gun … STUPID

    Draws attention to himself by not saying nice things
    about the PoPo on the local social media … STUPID

    Will not obey the PoPo when they ask him to
    immediately come out of his residence and
    peacefully surrender … STUPID

    Draws the entire scene out over several hours and
    the complains when the SWAT folks get involved … STUPID

    Poor Man… It’s one thing to be dumb,
    but it’s a whole nother thing to be STUPID.!!!!

  • Bmore

    Pretty sad the trash you clown talk about some one you do not even know. The BaltimoreSpectator was and is one of the most vocal supporters of the BCFD in Baltimore. While the media drank the coolaid from downtown that company closure would have no effect on the public, the BaltimoreSpectator support the fight 100% to keep company’s open. So keep talking trash about the poor guy but in Baltimore he is one of the most vocal supporters of the BCFD.

  • Anonymous

    Who cares if he supports the BCFD? Does that make him immune to laws? The guy is an idiot and so are you for defending him.

    • Bmore

      Unless you know all the details of the case you sir are the Idiot.

  • JustSayin”

    Well, there ya go.!!!

    ANOTHER fantastic endorsement of the Fire Service.!!!

    What a pity he is being taken off the streets for the violation
    of his parole for an issue concerning a gun.

    But it’s not all bad.!!! They are always looking for
    qualified “fire wardens” in the cell blocks.

  • Dickey

    The more this guy talked the more he confirmed with me that he is a wingnut trying to get attention.

    • AbsoluteReality

      YIKES, D.!!!!!

      You just described the other 43.68%
      of the contributors who post on this blog.!!!!