Edmund DeMarche, Fox News, October 5, 2015
Baltimore’s bloody summer ended with a barrage of bangs, as the rate of homicides and gun crimes continued to spike in the wake of the racially charged case of Freddie Gray, whose death in police custody left citizens angry and cops demoralized.
For September, homicides were up 39 percent and non-fatal shootings nearly doubled over the same month in 2014, continuing a disturbing trend that has gripped the Charm City since Gray’s death in April and the rioting that followed. For the year, murders are up 52 percent and non-fatal shootings 80 percent over last year.
For the year, the 246 homicides recorded through Sept. 26 put Baltimore dangerously close to the record pace of 1993, when 353 people were victims of homicide. The fact that the spike occurred after April 19 bodes even worse: Before the unrest following the Gray arrest, Baltimore had recorded 65 homicides for the year. A four-decade high of 42 homicides in May was topped in July when 45 people were killed in homicides, making Baltimore the second deadliest city in America on a per capita basis, trailing only St. Louis.
In the wake of the riots and amid a strong perception Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other civic leaders did not support cops, union officials openly acknowledged that their members felt abandoned.
Shootings, and especially murders, require police engagement, while lesser offenses may go unreported amid more serious crimes and a hesitant department, said Michael Greenberger, a law professor at the University of Maryland who studies policing. He and other experts say a “less assertive” police force, perhaps out of anger at their treatment by city elders, perhaps out of fear that engagement could put them in the firing line, is showing up in the statistics.
“I don’t think police officers are going to engage potential gang members the way they did before Gray,” Greenberger said. “Gang violence is not necessarily rape and robberies, but killing is.”