Baltimore After Freddie Gray

This is truly a clusterfuck. Baltimore police stopped noticing crime after Freddie Gray’s death. A wave of killings followed.

People complained about the cops – and rightly so. The Justice Department investigated, though that has slacked off. It seems police have stopped being proactive. The net result is crime and murder have skyrocketed.

Just before a wave of violence turned Baltimore into the nation’s deadliest big city, a curious thing happened to its police force: officers suddenly seemed to stop noticing crime.

And Baltimore is the most dangerous city. Chicago has them beat on the shear number of murders, but the difference in size means that the rate of murder (and other crimes) is higher by far.

Police interviewing people dropped by 70 percent. The stopping of drug deals “on view” dropped by 30 percent. They will respond to a 911 call, but that is all.

“Immediately upon the riot, policing changed in Baltimore, and it changed very dramatically,” says Donald Norris, an emeritus professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, who reviewed USA TODAY’s analysis. “The outcome of that change in policing has been a lot more crime in Baltimore, especially murders, and people are getting away with those murders.”

There are some interesting graphics at that linked article, that show the dramatic ways crime has changed and the impact on the city and its neighborhoods. (A map about ½ way down shows how the murder rate changed over the years before 2015, and in the years since.

In this age where everything is seen through a lens of what group you belong to, the one statistic that is absent is race. Race of people killed. Race of people impacted by the increase in lawlessness. You only get a few interviews for a view of the impact all these changes have had on the citizens of Baltimore.

Drug dealers have worked Baltimore’s street corners for decades. But [Rev. Rodney Hudson, the pastor of AMES United Methodist Church in West Baltimore] says it has been years since he has seen so many young men selling so brazenly in so many places. Dealers, he says, “are taking advantage” of a newly timid police force

People, who do bad things, should be punished, and that includes the police. Maybe it should even be that police are held to a higher standard. But in the aftermath of the Baltimore riots, and the Ferguson riots, etc. police seem have stepped back from policing. Baltimore is an especially egregious example, but they are not alone in seeing this kind of impact. And if the people of Baltimore are ever going to get their city back from the gangs and drug dealers, they are going to need more help from the police. I wish I knew how we get there from where we are, but painting police as the enemy, and everything they do as evil and/or suspect (as the Obama administration did) is probably not the best strategy.