Who suffers most when the police are the villains?
Baltimore has been out of the national conversation for a couple of weeks. Freddie Gray is dead. Six police officer have now been indicted in his death. Last weekend, Memorial Day weekend, Baltimore was one of several cities that saw a spike in violence. At that point Baltimore had 35 homicides for the month of May, making it the deadliest month in the city since 1999.
But the killings didn’t stop. Late last week a 31 year old woman and her seven year old son were shot in the head in southwest Baltimore. Little information has been reported. Police have not released any speculation about the motive behind the slayings.
With three more murders Sunday, the murder count in Baltimore stands at 43, the highest toll in 40 years.
What’s going on in Baltimore (and elsewhere as we saw last weekend) is part of what Heather MacDonald calls A New Nationwide Crime Wave (Google link). After seeing crime drop for nearly two decades, crime is rising. The reason isn’t complicated. With politicians claiming that the main problem in law enforcement is policing, a theme echoed by many in the media, and police realizing that they can be prosecuted and vilified for doing their jobs; arrests are down and crime is up.
This incessant drumbeat against the police has resulted in what St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson last November called the “Ferguson effect.” Cops are disengaging from discretionary enforcement activity and the “criminal element is feeling empowered,” Mr. Dotson reported. Arrests in St. Louis city and county by that point had dropped a third since the shooting of Michael Brown in August. Not surprisingly, homicides in the city surged 47% by early November and robberies in the county were up 82%.
Similar “Ferguson effects” are happening across the country as officers scale back on proactive policing under the onslaught of anti-cop rhetoric. Arrests in Baltimore were down 56% in May compared with 2014.
“Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family,” a New York City officer tells me. “Everything has the potential to be recorded. A lot of cops feel that the climate for the next couple of years is going to be nonstop protests.”
According to The Baltimore Sun’s online database, 36 of the 43 homicide victims over the past 30 days in Baltimore are black. Does this matter to those who vilify the police saying #BlackLivesMatter?
[Photo: ABC 2 News – WMAR / YouTube ]DONATE
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