With the heat of the summer upon us, the murder rate in Baltimore, Maryland is once again climbing back up. Still not as bad as the previous two years, but it was a late spring and the gangs have started making up for lost time. This past weekend five people were killed and seven more injured in various shootings around the city. Knowing that things are only going to get worse as we move into July and August, the Police Commissioner and the Mayor announced this week that a “summer surge” of law enforcement was coming and they are requesting help from federal agencies to battle “the worst of the worst” among Charm City’s violent criminal element. (Baltimore Sun)
In an effort to control violence over the summer, the Baltimore police plan to lean on federal law enforcement agencies to target a list of offenders that Commissioner Gary Tuggle called the “baddest of the bad.”
Tuggle and Mayor Catherine E. Pugh held a news conference at City Hall Monday to lay out what was billed as a “summer surge” to tackle crime. But officials provided few details about what form the aid from federal agencies would take.
“We understand what the summer months look like, as the days get longer, more people on the street, we want to make sure that we’re in front of the violence,” Pugh said.
When you’re fighting a war you need to put some boots on the ground, and the city of Baltimore is in the middle of a war with gang violence. From that point of view, it’s something of a relief to see the Mayor looking for some bigger guns to come in and investigate cases involving the worst killers on the streets. Most federal agencies had no immediate comment on the possibility of special task forces heading to Baltimore, though the U.S. Marshals Service said they provide help “wherever requested.”
If the city can find a way to work peacefully with (or at least stay out of the way of) federal agents and give them full access, the feds might actually be able to cut down some of the gang violence. Such relief would be a welcome change. But is Washington going to be ready to jump in with both feet and bail Baltimore out?
That might seem like a silly question until you consider that the Justice Department has been prioritizing their resources in terms of helping those who are willing to help the feds. Specifically, Jeff Sessions hasn’t exactly been bending over backward to distribute personnel and resources to sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with the feds on other matters.
Where does Baltimore fall on that scale? Mayor Pugh has previously rejected the term sanctuary city, preferring to call Baltimore a “welcoming city.” But that didn’t stop the City Council from setting up a fund worth $200K, including $100K of government funding, to hire lawyers to fight deportation orders.
Also, when the first rounds of ICE raids targeting “noncompliant jurisdictions” started last year, one of the first to be hit was Baltimore. Based on that, I’m fairly sure that the government has Baltimore on the naughty list. Will that impact how much they’re willing to invest in taming Baltimore’s gang problem? Honestly, I hope it doesn’t. This might be a time for a gesture of goodwill. Go in there and bust up some of the gangs, lock up the most violent killers, and then come back to ask the Mayor if she is seeing municipal cooperation with federal officials in a different light these days.
Sometimes the old saying is true and you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Of course, neither of them holds a candle to a dead squirrel. But I digress.