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Reforming Maryland admin on 15 Jun 2015 08:13 pm

Will Extra-Terrestrial Policing Rules Help Baltimore City Recover?

By Jeff Levin** 

Yesterday, Sunday, June 14, 2015, the following two news story headers appeared on page one of the Baltimore Sun, above the fold:

  • “Arrest decline spurs concern”;
  • “For city merchants a difficult road back”.

As of 2:19 AM that same date, there had been 132 murders* in Baltimore City (population around 600,000) since January 1, 2015: 120 blacks, 6 whites, 1 Asian, 5 race unknown, including 9 below the age of 18 all of whom were black. During the same five and one-half months last year, there were 89 mostly black murder victims.

Since May 1st of this year, there have been 59 Baltimore murders of whom 53 were black including children aged one, two, and seven. Additionally, there have been more than 100 non-fatal shootings since May 1st.

The identity of the killers is mostly not known, as very few of the murders have been solved. But no one doubts that the preponderance of the killers are the same race as the preponderance of the victims.

“Arrest decline spurs concern”

The first headline above refers to an astonishing drop in the number of arrests by Baltimore police officers since May 1st, despite the extraordinary increase in violent crime.

Officers have explained that they want to do their job, but fear being charged with crimes if they make a mistake.

Theirs is a rational fear.

After May 1st, Baltimore’s prosecutor brought criminal assault and false imprisonment charges against several officers who participated in the Freddie Gray arrest. The subsequent grand jury indictments dropped the false imprisonment charges, but maintained second degree assault charges against all six of the officers involved in the arrest or transport of Gray. The assault charges appear to be circular in that they seem to be based on nothing more than the physical apprehension of Gray without, according to the prosecutor, probable cause for the arrest.

The first article vividly describes the situation. “I’ve noticed fewer police,” said Steve Dixon, the program director of a west Baltimore recovery center.

“We’re having robberies at the playground in broad daylight. All these murders and shootings, we’re having them in broad daylight.”

“For city merchants a difficult road back”.

The second headline refers to the approximately 380 businesses that the rioters damaged, destroyed, or burned, as a result of Baltimore’s decision to give, in the mayor’s words, “protestors” the “space” “to destroy.”

Business owners have to decide whether to reopen in a city that chooses not to protect them, particularly in light of what might happen if the indicted officers are not seen by activists to be “sufficiently” punished.

Those owners who decide to reopen will still have to navigate the City’s bureaucracies and figure out how to operate with much higher costs – property insurance, for example.

Into this daunting context jumps the state legislature’s new “Public Safety and Policing Workgroup,” appointed by State Senate president Mike Miller and House of Delegates speaker Michael Busch, with calls for police sensitivity training “to help police officers identify their own subconscious racial biases” and for “racial and ethnic diversity training.” See Kazanjian, “Legislators call for more diversity, standardized training for police,” MarylandReporter, June 8, 2015.

This cartoonish, “politically correct” (PC) response to a desperate situation is from an alternate universe.

In the universe in which we live, Baltimore has a black mayor, a black city council president, black police and fire chiefs, and an elected black prosecutor. Moreover, three of the six Freddie Gray indicted officers are black including the driver of the transporting van.

The police – 130 had to seek hospital treatment for their riot injuries — who were trying to protect the mostly black victims of mostly black criminals are not the ones needing racial sensitivity training.

One day before this extra-terrestrial workgroup meeting, at 4:53 AM, Kevin Jones, a 22 year old black male, was murdered – “shot multiple times” – on the Pimlico Race Course’s parking lot where he was on his way to his job as a security guard at the track. See WBALtv.com report.

The out-of-state corporation that owns the track has pointedly been talking of moving the Preakness from Pimlico with an urgency that was not present before the “space” to “destroy” riots. A senior representative of the corporation was quick to underline the relevance of Kevin Jones’ murder to the upcoming decision.

Businesses and professionals, both here and elsewhere, have their eyes set directly on Baltimore City to see whether we will do what is needed to reestablish public safety. Big money decisions and the economic future of our city and state, as well as the lives of who knows how many mostly black Baltimore citizens, are in the balance.

PC claptrap from other-worldly workgroups is neither going to protect Baltimore City’s vulnerable population nor enable its recovery.

* * * * * * * * * *

*The Sun reports, as of AM on 6/15, the murder figure is now 134.
** Contributor Jeff Levin has law and business degrees from Columbia University. He practiced labor law in Baltimore until his father’s sudden death in 1975 when he began managing his family’s retail business in Pikesville, Maryland until its closing in 2012. While there, he was a founding member of the reconstituted Pikesville Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Pikesville Community Growth Corporation. Levin served as the Chamber’s president from 1981-1983 and the Growth Corporation’s president from 1985-1989. He is a long-time board member of the Maryland Taxpayers Association and a regular at the Maryland Thursday Meeting.

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