Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake may have ridden off into the sunset to become a star of the Democratic Party, but her replacement, Catherine Pugh, has been left with the same unsavory mess on her plate. Unfortunately, up until now she’s seemed to stick with the same failed policies which her predecessor put in place, resulting in some truly horrific conditions for their citizens. But now, at least in terms of crime and law enforcement, that may be about to change. The key moment of awakening for her most likely came from the news last week that Charm City had broken a long standing record. The municipality recorded its 100th murder of the year before the end of April, a feat not accomplished in twenty years.
This has apparently shaken the mayor up to the point where she’s finally willing to stop fighting the federal government and start asking for their help. For starters, she’d like to call in the FBI. (CBS Local)
Baltimore’s mayor is asking for help from the FBI, as the city struggles to contain a soaring murder rate. But will bringing in the feds stop the killings?
The mayor pulled no punches earlier this week when she said the murder rate is out of control. She wants to bring in the FBI to the city, but will it make a difference? Some people are skeptical of that.
Violence in Baltimore has reached a crisis level, with the number of killings shattering a 20-year high this early in the year, Baltimore’s mayor was blunt.
“I’m calling on all the assistance we can possibly get because I can’t imagine going into our summer months with our crime rate where it is today, what that’s going to look like by the end of the summer,” says Mayor Catherine Pugh.
While there is nothing wrong with asking for this sort of help and it’s in fact a very prudent move, it still represents a rather dramatic change for Baltimore City Hall. Keep in mind that this is the same city which, under the tenure of Ms. Rawlings-Blake, spent a great deal of its energy attempting to prosecute their own police officers rather than assisting them. In fact, as recently as one month ago they were bucking the tide of the new staff at the Department of Justice and working to implement severe reforms to the police department as if that were the primary source of their troubles.
Now, with near record murder levels and gangs essentially controlling the streets, they would like Uncle Sam to step in and lend a hand. There’s some reason for optimism on that count, or at least we can hope so. Just this weekend we learned that a major bust of one of the city’s gangs was set to take down the group’s leadership and hopefully achieve justice for a child murdered there a few years ago. It’s only one small piece of a much larger puzzle, but it’s a start.
The real question is whether or not the FBI has the resources to come in and tackle a job of this magnitude. One public safety expert interviewed for the article said that the help of other agencies would likely be needed.
WJZ spoke to public safety expert Rob Weinhold, who isn’t sure the FBI alone will be effective.
“I don’t think relying on federal resources is a new strategy at all, in fact, I think the devil is in the detail. You can talk about the FBI and that’s fine, but I’d actually like to see more emphasis on drug enforcement administration, ATF, and the Marshall service to get these folks who are wanted on warrants off the street,” says Weinhold.
Bringing in the DEA, the ATF and a band of federal marshals could certainly up their game, but before the feds make that sort of an investment I would think they’d like to have some assurances that they will have the full support of City Hall going forward. Trying to tackle a gang problem the size of Baltimore’s is going to take time and will require some serious crackdowns. And you can rest assured that the Social Justice Warriors will be out in the streets claiming racism and everything else under the sun as soon as gang members are being rounded up and carted off to prison.
And even if you accomplish all that, arrests don’t address the real problem underlying Baltimore’s staggering crime problem. There are always up and coming, wannabe gangsters ready to take the place of those who are killed or arrested. There’s a culture in that city and many others which is far too accepting of the presence of gangs and the violence they bring with them as a fact of life. Until the rest of the citizens are willing to actually work with the police and get rid of their worst elements, the problems will continue to fester. And that’s something that no amount of money or guns can fix.