Since the death of Freddie Gray and the vocal response of the Baltimore community that followed, the city has seen a terrible spike in violence and crime. Any number of issues have likely contributed to the terrifying trend, but one of the most likely culprits seems to be fear. Not fear from the perspective of local citizens, which is also likely spiking, but fear from police that they would face prosecution for being more aggressive than they should be.
Forty-two people were killed in Baltimore in May, making it the deadliest month there since 1972.
When asked what’s behind that number, a Baltimore police officer gave an alarming answer. Basically, he said, the good guys are letting the bad guys win.
“The criminal element feels as though that we’re not going to run the risk of chasing them if they are armed with a gun, and they’re using this opportunity to settle old beefs, or scores, with people that they have conflict with,” the officer said. “I think the public really, really sees that they asked for a softer, less aggressive police department, and we have given them that, and now they are realizing that their way of thinking does not work.”
“Ultimately, it does a disservice to the law-abiding citizens. It does a disservice to the business owners. It does a disservice to everybody except the criminal element,” the second officer said about operating in reactive mode.
He denied the existence of a work slowdown but said he couldn’t promise proactive policing.
“Even though you have reasonable suspicion,” he said, “nine out of 10 times, that officer is going to keep on driving.”
They feel as though, if I make a mistake — which we all do make mistakes — then what is this administration going to do to me?” he told CNN’s Miguel Marquez. “Am I going to be the next one to be suspended? Am I going to be the next one who is going to be criminally charged?”
Now, Baltimore is facing a conundrum that some would say is of their own making – do you want an aggressive police force (sometimes overly and perhaps criminally so), or do you want a police force that cowers in fear and chooses inaction instead of action when the situation seems questionable?
Even before the recent spate of violence, Baltimore was no Utopia, and perhaps the powers that be (and those in the media as well) are missing the larger point. Instead of looking at what’s gone wrong since Freddie Gray, perhaps we should be searching for the root of the problem instead. Solving the policing issue can only fix part of the problem, and until Democrat run cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. take a deeper look at the policies, philosophies and programs that are causing their problems, there won’t be any lasting change.