Op/Ed: Lights won’t fix the dark crime problem that exists in Baltimore

By Hassan Giordano

(BALTIMORE – February 12, 2017) – As the bodies begin to pile up faster than the expiring days of the New Year, and our city begins to unravel – based on a lack of understanding in regards to having a concrete plan of action that tackles the systemic issues that have plagued Baltimore for decades; I grow more concerned about the direction in which our city is headed – and the vision, or lack thereof, of those elected to lead us into prosperity.

Two consecutive years of more than 300 reported homicides, followed by a third year that has started off as the most violent in the history of our city, and all we hear from City Hall is that we need to “light the city up”? First of all, there is no quantitative evidence that ‘street lights’ have a direct correlation to decreased crime. In fact, the two city neighborhoods our Mayor referenced as to being “safe” because of their lights, Federal Hill and Canton, have reportedly experienced a combined 110 cases of theft, 33 reported assaults, 28 robberies and 19 burglaries just this year alone (according to spotcrime.com).

And while the Mayor doesn’t believe that dictating crime-fighting strategy to the police department is her job, I would hasten to say that if you ask almost any area resident who is fearful of even walking to their cars in the morning to go to work, exactly who they believe is responsible for having a detailed plan of action to fight crime in this city, I would bet that the Mayor and Police Commissioner top their list.

During the Sheila Dixon administration, we saw the creation of a community-focused policing strategy that ended the zero-tolerance policies of the former administration but targeted the most violent, repeat offenders that were causing havoc in our neighborhoods. Created by Deputy Major Anthony Barksdale, and implemented under the insightful leadership of Frederick H. Bealefeld III, we witnessed the lowest number of killings in the past twenty years, including reducing major crime in some of the city’s most troubled neighborhoods.

They had a common goal of making this city safer for all citizens, facilitated by a common sense approach to solving the problem at hand through extensive community engagement, strategic partnerships, measurable outcomes, faithful execution and the rebuke of a culture of low expectations. They realized that successfully tackling crime couldn’t be a top down approach, but rather had to be one that involved all aspects of the diverse neighborhoods that make up Charm City.

And while the city looks to enter into an agreement with the federal government, the long awaited and much maligned Consent Decree, that will prove to be costly, at least financially – we must now ensure that the city’s plan to prevent this escalating wave of violent crime and address the often overlooked nuances of quality of life crimes, is a partnership that everyone can buy into and one that produces weekly, if not daily, tangible results that can be seen by even the most pessimistic citizen.

Otherwise, we will be chasing our tails year after year, wondering how to get a handle on a problem that is a systemic issue dating back decades and has consistently shown us that regardless of the revolving door of police commissioners that occupy that seat, if there is no real crime plan in place that starts and ends with respecting and empowering the community and law enforcement as a whole, then we will continue to have fruitless meetings that are great photo-ops but offer no tangible results.

We need to foster a culture of openness and transparency in the training and performance of the duties of our law enforcement officers, establishing a mindset that they realize that their role in the communities across Baltimore is not one of an occupying force intended for them to ‘control a population’, but rather their role is designed to provide a service to the community.

What we don’t need is a proposed solution that looks to reward BG&E by way of thousands of new light fixtures while penalizing the citizens who will assuredly be saddled with the cost of this new venture. Instead, we need a crime fighting strategy that includes the finite details which seek to target the most dangerously violent offenders through strategic and collaborative arrests and prosecutions, while reestablishing a respectable relationship between our citizens and the hard-working law enforcement officers who take their direction from the top.

Hassan Giordano

Giordano is the Founder of www.gcommmedia.us. He is also a FoxNewsRadio, Contributor, Editor-In-Chief  of DMVDaily News (www.dmvdaily.com), Executive Committee Member/Criminal Justice Chair of the NAACP – Baltimore City Branch, and Chairman, Independent Movement of Maryland (IMPAC).