Baltimore is going through a surge in crime, especially murders. While crime is up, arrests are down. According to police who spoke to the Baltimore Sun newspaper, “When officers pull up to respond to a call, they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any given point in time.
‘We have to send out multiple units at any time they’re just doing basic police work in the Western right now, which says that we have to work on community engagement.’” It is not an effective way to deter crime or to utilize police resources.
In the wake of Freddie Gray’s death, police are no longer taking a pro-active approach by checking out suspicious people. Instead, they respond only when a crime has been committed because of the murder charges against the police who arrested Gray. No police person is going to put him or herself in harm’s way in a city where the community and administration is against them. It is just not worth it. The net result is the surge in crime.
Since Gray’s death on April 19th, there have been 47 killings with 35 of which occurred this month. May, 2015 has been the deadliest month for the city in 15 years. So far, Baltimore has recorded 107 homicides this year which is up from 74 at the same time last year. Anybody who is familiar with the history of riot-torn cities could have predicted this surge in crime.
When ex-Governor O’Malley of Maryland was mayor of Baltimore years ago, he instituted a “no tolerance” policy that sharply reduced crime in the city. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s administration in trying to appease the black community has taken a softer approach despite evidence that the “no tolerance” approach of O’Malley’s administration reduced crime. Unfortunately, the black community is suffering because of her decision-making. She has tried to shift the blame by claiming the problem is gun control. Yet Maryland has some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation and it has not stifled the murder rate.
Police morale has descended into an abyss since her administration pressed charges of murder against the six police people involved in the Gray case. If the police aggressively go after criminals they feel they will be tarred with the charge of brutality. So they hang back waiting for the criminals to strike. The criminal element in the city knows this so they have become bolder and more violent.
As a result, another phase in the Baltimore’s fight against crime will be many experienced police officers going for early retirement, applying for disability or transferring to another city. The loss of experienced officers will create even more criminal opportunities since experience is hard to replace. It takes time to learn the ropes of police work and the police have been casted as oppressors. This negative image will cause many officers to decide it is not worth the aggravation. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. So why work for an administration that doesn’t support them.
Baltimore hasn’t hit bottom yet. But it will and it will negatively impact the city economically, politically and socially. Will the city go through another round of riots and destruction if the six police officers are found not guilty? Only time will tell!