Baltimore’s murder-rate surges as police back off

This May has been one of the deadliest months on record in Baltimore’s recent history, as the homicide count has risen to 36 victims this month – almost doubling the previous monthly year’s high of 23 in January. There have also been 91 non-fatal shootings this month in a city which can now be described as semi-chaotic. Over Memorial Day weekend, 29 people were shot, 9 of whom died.

Despite the increased violence, arrests are down 56% year-over-year, as Baltimore police are facing increased pressure in city neighborhoods, where “when officers pull up (to a potential crime scene) they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any time.” Despite the statistics, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts says that officers, “are not holding back” from doing their job.

At a news conference on Wednesday, the mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that there are “a lot of reasons why we’re having a surge in violence…there’s a lot of distrust and a community breakdown. The result is routinely increased violence.”

Last October, both Commissioner Batts and Mayor Rawlings-Blake asked the Department of Justice to help conduct a review of the Baltimore Police Department’s policies. After the Freddie Gray case however, the mayor requested that the Attorney General perform an investigation into potentially unlawful policing practices of the Department.

Such a high level of scrutiny has caused the police to back off, according to Donnail Lee, who lives in the same housing complex where Freddie Gray was arrested. “I haven’t seen the police since the riots…There was a shooting down the street, and the man was standing in the middle of the street with a gun, just shooting…People are everywhere smoking weed, and police just ride by…I don’t think they’ll be back this summer.”

Another resident of the same housing complex, Veronica Edmonds, said that people’s current hostility towards law enforcement isn’t absolute. “If they focused more on criminals and left the petty stuff alone, the community would have more respect for police officers.”

This month’s murder-rate is Baltimore’s highest for May since 1999.


[AP] [Fox News]