As you may recall, the city of Baltimore set a 21st-century record for murders in 2019, threatening to eclipse the all-time record set in the early nineties. By the time New Year’s Day rolled around, the city’s interim mayor, state’s prosecutor and members of the City Council were promising to do something about it. Some proposals that sounded promising were put forward, with more cooperation with federal law enforcement agencies and funding for more police officers being put on the table. At the same time, community outreach efforts were lauded and those citizens engaging in such action were promised more support from City Hall.

All of those promises may yet come to fruition and perhaps a decrease in the bloodshed will be possible, but it won’t happen fast enough. That was made evident this weekend when gang violence resulted in a dozen shootings, five of them fatal, on Saturday alone. (Baltimore Sun)

Five people were killed and seven others injured in a string of separate shootings Saturday in Baltimore, police said.

At about 2:30 a.m., police responded to a reported shooting in the 700 block of N. Patterson Park Ave. Officers found three women — ages 23, 27 and 28 — suffering from apparent gunshot wounds in a sedan, police said.

All three women were taken to area hospitals, police said, but the 28-year-old woman died soon after arriving at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Those three young women were gunned down in their car shortly before three in the morning on Saturday. The shootings continued throughout the day and into the evening, taking place at seven different locations. Do you know how many people were murdered in New York City on Saturday? None. And that’s a city with a population of 8.5 million as compared to Baltimore’s barely 600,000. It’s true that the Big Apple experienced an uptick in murders last year, possibly because of the current administration’s abandonment of their broken windows policies, but it’s still ridiculously safer to walk around Brooklyn than Baltimore.

As I mentioned above, Baltimore’s leaders have finally started cobbling together some proposals that might begin getting this under control. But it’s important to identify what the problem you’re tackling actually is. We should keep in mind that the vast majority of these shootings aren’t domestic violence, hunting accidents or even robberies gone bad. This is gang violence and the body count of endless turf wars between the gangs in Charm City.

The Baltimore PD has had its share of problems with corruption and rogue cops, particularly on the Gun Trace Task Force. But what they really need is a Gang Task Force that has all of the resources needed to get on the inside and find the repeat offenders who are responsible for the lion’s share of these murders. As soon as a sufficient number of them are locked up for life, some of the younger members may start getting the idea.

Speaking of young people, the cops can’t solve this on their own, no matter how much money you dump into the department. Endemic gang problems like this are a social construct as much as anything else. Baltimore has to find a way to get through to the parents in the community and help them steer their children away from gangs at an early age. Given the age of some of the identified gang members, that probably needs to happen before they start kindergarten.

And finally, all of these measures have to kick into gear immediately instead of just being talking points at press conferences. It’s not as if this can’t be done. Milwaukee, Wisconsin has almost the same population as Baltimore and it includes plenty of economically disadvantaged, rough and tumble neighborhoods. But somehow they only racked up 98 murders last year. That’s well under one-third of the number seen in Baltimore.

This task is daunting, but other cities have demonstrated that it’s not impossible. If the people of Baltimore want to survive they need to demand immediate action from their elected officials. And if results aren’t forthcoming they need to stop electing the same collection of clowns that have run the city into the ground for the past decade or more.