Baltimore Seeking Solutions Amid Record High Murder Rate
July 7, 2017 6:40 PM
By Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the past 24 hours, seven more people were shot – one of them killed – as Baltimore struggles with a record high murder rate, and those in power are desperate for solutions.
The mayor wants tougher gun laws. The governor blames judges and prosecutors for lenient punishments, while the state’s attorney accuses him of finger pointing.
But it’s clear someone needs to take action, as people are dying daily in Baltimore.
Mayor Catherine Pugh and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan will meet privately on Monday to tackle violence that has reached a crisis level in Baltimore.
As of Friday afternoon, 181 people have been killed on Baltimore’s streets so far this year. That’s higher than the 134 in New York, a city that is almost 14 times larger.
Baltimore’s 181 murders is also higher than the 160 in Philadelphia, which has two and a half times the population.
And Baltimore’s murder rate more than doubles Chicago’s, which has gained international attention for its violence.
“[Reporter: Do you think things have gotten worse?] These streets? It’s getting badder and badder,” said Wendell Stuckey.
Stuckey lives in Park Heights, not far from the Baltimore’s most recent murder on Reisterstown Rd., an area so scarred by violence, he can’t believe he made it to his 44th birthday.
“Never thought I’d see 25. 25 years old, and that’s sad,” he said. “I never, ever dreamed I would live that long on Baltimore’s streets. At the time, I was thinking about that, I was 13, so that’s how rough these streets is.”
“I think everyone understands it’s at a crisis level,” said public safety expert Rob Weinhold. “That the violent, crime is intolerable, the number of homicides is outrageous.”
Weinhold says there needs to be more accountability.
“Everyone needs to be held accountable. Whether you’re the person behind bars who needs to stay behind bars and not be let out into the community, or a person in a leadership position who is not getting the job done. Frankly, if you can’t get it done, get out,” Weinhold said. “If you don’t have the resources to police effectively, the men and women who wear a badge and carry a gun every day are immediately handicapped.”
“The bottom line is, this is not about politics, it’s about public safety,” he said.
Police are exploring whether to increase saturation patrols, or all available officers on 12-hour shifts.
But the commissioner knows it’s not a long term solution.
“I applaud the governor and the mayor because they’re willing to have that hard conversation,” said Baltimore PD Commissioner Kevin Davis. “They’re not taking the tired old approach of blaming the cops, because the cops aren’t to blame.”
Hogan, a Republican, ruled out sending in the National Guard or having Maryland State Police patrol city streets. He said the state has already provided the city with $64 million since 2015 to aid crime fighting and designated $50 million more to address the opioid epidemic.
"We've invested a tremendous amount of money there, more than any other place in the state," Hogan said of Baltimore during a brief interview. "It hasn't really worked."
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