Baltimore Police Policy Changes, Murder Rate Skyrockets

Marilyn J. Mosby, State Attorney of Baltimore, teamed with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis to notify residents that fighting crime is difficult and no turnaround is expected anytime soon.

Mosby once denounced Baltimore's no-tolerance policing strategy as a failure and the rate of annual murders spiked. Disavowance of the no-tolerance zone may have something to do with the increase of homicides over the last two years.

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The outcome, since removing the no-tolerance policing strategy, has shown major increase in homicides since 2015.  Homicides were at a three year low in 2014, with only 211 murders across all of Baltimore. That number has increased significantly with a staggering 344 homicides recorded in 2015. Without the fear of a zero-tolerance policy, the murders have skyrocketed and could reach 300+ by the end of December.

Mosby and Davis jointly spoke to the Baltimore Sun to address crime-fighting tactics. Davis referenced the controversial death of Freddie Gray and the drama that unfolded after he passed away and police were accused of brutality. Mosby mentioned Baltimore being in a transitional phase with positive changes, but Baltimore has 227 homicides and is on pace for over 300 for 2017.

Johns Hopkins Professor, Daniel Webster, meets with Mosby and Davis on a regular basis to discuss strategies to shrink the levels of gun violence. He suggests both parties work hard for results, but they're frustrated at the level of results they've achieved due to the continuous climb in violent crimes.

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Mayor Pugh hired Drew Vetter to run the Office on Criminal Justice to improve and/or increase the level of cooperation among prosecutors and police officers. Vetter's experience stems from his previous role as the Chief of Staff for Police Commissioner Davis.

Vetter stated public safety issues are a major concern and productive discourse among Mosby and Davis often occurs. Both Mosby and Davis appear to be on the same page, even though they've had conflicting opinions on topics in the past.

The most notable public safety concern involves controversial body camera issues in which videos could be interpreted differently or situations where cameras are not enabled. Some critics suggest videos have shown police planting evidence or other acts of wrong doing. On the contrary, police body cameras have also provided evidence that police had acted appropriately in the scope of their responsible duty to serve and protect, often saving police from a plethora of false or inaccurate charges. Police body cameras have provided evidence to clear police officers of false charges, resulting in dozens of cases against officers being dropped.

Mayor Pugh proposes a one year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone found guilty of illegally possessing a handgun. Davis joined Pugh to present the bill, surrounded by a multitude of city and state officials, but Mosby was absent. She later addressed the proposal, stated her support, and offered no further comment. Davis supported her lack of enthusiasm of the bill, stating that it's "such a common-sense practical approach to violence that it shouldn’t take the State’s Attorney to jump up and down about it." The Baltimore Sun suggests that City Council weakened the bill and a final vote is yet to occur.

The homicide unit has closed 57.3% of cases, a massive 20% increase from 2016. Other strategies for decreasing crime in Baltimore include establishing the State's Attorney's Office's Gun Violence Enforcement Division, an opioid task force designed to identify deadly drug dealers who provide lethal doses to unfortunate victims, and positive police engagement with youth before they're tempted to turn toward the thug life. Among strategies listed, it does not appear that a no-tolerance policy will return to Baltimore, which has nearly 500 less police officers than previous years.

Mosby and Davis have no successful short term answer to decrease the staggering violence, but Baltimore residents should know the pair is working really, really hard on it.

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