Ashley Fantz, CNN, June 5, 2015
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts is asking for federal help to fight an uptick in crime in his city–an increase he largely attributes to looted drugs that have made their way to the streets of Baltimore.
At least 27 pharmacies and drug clinics were looted during riots after the April death of Freddie Gray, much more than previously reported, and as much as 175,000 units of dosage narcotics are now on the street, he said.
That’s “enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” he said. “That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore.”
There were 42 homicides in the city in May, the deadliest month since 1972.
Authorities expect the number of doses on the streets will be higher, because not all pharmacies have accounted for the missing narcotics, according to a law enforcement official. Some of the drugs looted include fentanyl, oxycodone, amphetamines, Adderall, hydrocodone, morphine and tramadol.
“Criminals are selling those stolen drugs,” Batts said. “There are turf wars happening which are leading to violence and shootings in our city.”
City Council member Carl Stokes said Thursday he does not entirely agree that the crime in Baltimore can be blamed on the proliferation of drug dealing.
“There’s more opportunity for the criminals in this city to do what they’re doing because leadership is failing and, frankly, because the Fraternal Order of Police–if they didn’t order it they have given some, again, not an order, but to say to their rank and file you don’t have to work as hard as you should be working, you don’t have to live up to your oath to serve and protect. . . . I think we have a horrible situation going on in this town,” Stokes said.
He added that neighborhoods that are wracked with crime are now facing an even tougher situation.
“I know that the police officers have lost confidence and respect for their commander,” Stokes said, adding that he believes the majority of Baltimore residents have respect for and confidence in the police.
Stokes said he’s troubled by stories he’s heard from residents who he said have told him in the past few days that police in their neighborhoods are doing less.
“What I would welcome is that we had a leader, a commander, who knew what the hell was going on with his troops,” said Stokes. “Because he has lost the confidence and respect of the police officers on the streets. He has lost the streets entirely in terms of the criminals out there.”