(BALTIMORE – May 15, 2019) – While I agree with much of what the writers have stated about Baltimore Police culture in this, a majority African American city, the commentary is outdated. Since Freddie Gray’s untimely death in 2015, there is a different tone in Baltimore.
Instead of police being overly aggressive, what we see now is more of a laid-back mode of operation. If you recall, Baltimore is currently under a Consent Decree since former Mayor Catherine Pugh took office in 2017. It was very important to her as she rushed to get former Pres. Barack Obama to sign it before leaving office. The intent was/is to make cops more responsible and to bring accountability to local policing. However, this mandate has had an adverse effects on us all.
Instead of “knockers” and plain clothes units flooding the black community like before, today we see our officers taking a knee. Where they were once pro-active, they are now much slower to respond. Quite often, I have seen cops parked near stores while drug activity is happening all around them. The mindset seems to be that as long as no one is shooting, folks can make all the drug sales they want.
On top of that, Baltimore’s African American community has two additional elements that have been added to the mix: an army of homeless white addicts and Fentanyl. Where a white guy looking for drugs would get pulled up immediately in the black community before Freddie Gray, today white addicts not only cop drugs from young dealers openly, many also live in the ocean of vacant houses that are seemingly ubiquitous throughout East and West Baltimore. Never before have we seen hundreds of white people openly perusing the black community to score and to get high.
On top of that, the police force is seriously understaffed. I’ve heard many numbers, but I have gathered that the local police force is several hundred officers short – to say the least. Who wants to be a cop in Baltimore where the notion is that the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s officer will throw you under the bus faster than a Baltimore red light camera? Who wants to be a cop in a city where the State’s Attorney has made it known that weed possession charges will not be prosecuted? This latest effort by Marilyn Mosby, the State’s Attorney, has caused unnecessary confusion for everyone. Young people now think they have the right to smoke weed in public.
Also, former Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s administration ultimately caused a lot of cops to have to work an additional 4 to 5 years before getting a pension. You can bet your bottom dollar that was a heavy blow to those affected officers. To say the least, their collective morale is lower than the belly of a worm.
And so, what is the result? Baltimore is leading the nation with an explosive murder rate causing “Charm City” to be more like “Bodymore, Murderland.” We have one and 2-year-olds getting shot. We recently had 7 people shot at a cookout, reminiscent of a gangland shooting scene out of a movie. While young black men are the typical shooting victims, now we are shooting females. Women and children being shot to death? Yes. 7-year-old Taylor Hayes, one of these horrific murder victims, lived in my community – the same Sandtown community where Freddie Gray was arrested.
Mind you, if people are brazenly selling drugs and smoking weed in front of the police, we know darn well that they are selling and using drugs in front of seniors and children. Quite frankly, it is like the “Wild, Wild West.” Lawlessness and witness intimidation both promote a deafening silence amongst citizens who are, in effect, completely terrorized. And respect is a totally foreign concept.
We are hoping that our new police commissioner, Michael Harrison, from New Orleans will be able to help usher in a new day. His challenge is that Baltimore’s tenuous political climate is in the midst of mayoral transition and now headed towards an April 2020 Baltimore Primary Election. This means that Baltimore’s new mayor and new City Council president have to both lead and campaign at the same time – both of which require herculean strength and fortitude. Can City Hall effectively lead? Will the cops police? These are the questions in the minds of locals.