Baltimore puzzled over why they aren't part of new federal crime fighting program

It will only take you a brief search of the site to see how many stories we’ve covered dealing with the rising violent crime rate in Baltimore, Maryland. Things are in dire shape, with the relatively small city racking up one of the worst violent crime rates in the nation, currently on track to break 300 murders this year if they don’t turn things around. It’s gotten so bad that Mayor Pugh has taken the drastic step of asking the feds for help. The timing for that might be just about perfect because Attorney General Jeff Sessions only recently announced the launch of a new program designed to provide additional, customized resources to a list of cities in this sort of trouble, bringing in cash and manpower from a variety of law enforcement agencies to assist the local police.

There’s just one problem. Baltimore didn’t make the list and it’s got the folks at City Hall scratching their heads. (Baltimore Sun)

During his presidential campaign last year, Donald J. Trump frequently made reference to Baltimore’s struggle with violence, describing the city as “out of control” as he vowed to “get rid of the crime” across the nation.

But in one of his administration’s first policy announcements on criminal justice — a Justice Department initiative to help local law enforcement — Baltimore failed to make the first cut of cities to take part.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled the program Tuesday at a conference of law enforcement officials in Bethesda, about 40 miles from Baltimore. The state’s largest city has one of the highest homicide rates in the country, and is on pace to exceed 300 killings for the third year in a row.

The federal program, called the National Public Safety Partnership, will work with cities including Buffalo, Cincinnati and Houston, officials said.

Given the number of times President Trump mentioned Baltimore during the campaign, specifically when talking about spiraling crime rates, how could Baltimore not be in the pilot program? You can read about the National Public Safety Partnership (NPSP) program here and it includes the list of cities being supported.

Birmingham, Alabama
Indianapolis, Indiana
Memphis, Tennessee
Toledo, Ohio
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Buffalo, New York
Cincinnati, Ohio
Houston, Texas
Jackson, Tennessee
Kansas City, Missouri
Lansing, Michigan
Springfield, Illinois

Sure enough, Baltimore isn’t on the list. It’s a mystery for the ages, alright. Or is it? I’ve done a bit of sleuthing and found a different list on a related government web site which might offer us a clue. Your first hint is that none of the cities listed above appear on it. I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. It’s the ICE list of jails which have been refusing detainers for illegal immigrants. And sure enough, none of the jails for those cities on the NPSP list are there. But guess what you’ll find if you look on page 6 of the ICE list?

BALTIMORE COUNTY DET. CENTE, Baltimore City, Maryland

They list “Detainer Declines” for illegal immigrants, country of origin “Mexico” and notable criminal activity, “Drug Trafficking.”

So let’s see… there’s a new federal program offering funding and other resources for cities in need of help with violent crime. A dozen cities with no entry on the ICE list of refusing detainers are receiving that help. Baltimore is on the list of jails that refuse ICE detainers. Baltimore isn’t selected for help from the NPSP pool.

Hmmm. Nope. I’m scratching my head over here as well and I just can’t come up with a guess. It’s a mystery, Baltimore.