Batts has several explanations for what’s happening. One is a flood of prescription drugs on the street, being used for recreational purposes, that were looted from pharmacies during the April rioting. “There’s enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” Batts said Wednesday. “That amount of drugs has thrown off the balance on the streets of Baltimore.” (This is, City Paper notes, a bit exaggerated.) Batts also said that officers have been patrolling in pairs rather than the normal solo beats, which effectively halves the number of patrols.
The FOP offers a bleaker, though related, rationale for the decrease in arrests: Officers are afraid, its leader says. On the one hand, they’re beset by hostile citizens who carefully monitor every arrest, crowding around officers who are just trying to do their jobs and capturing the detentions on camera, lest they turn into another Freddie Gray situation. On the other hand, police are also afraid a prosecutor will haul them in front of a jury. After Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged six of their comrades with a range of offenses in Freddie Gray’s death, they say that they don’t know when they might be charged with a crime, just for doing their jobs.
Of these, the second concern seems more potent. “The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest,” said local FOP President Gene Ryan.