Baltimore's gangs aren't going to let some coronavirus slow them down

Social distancing may be helpful in slowing the spread of a virus, but it doesn’t do a thing in terms of gang violence because six feet is still considered a very short range when aiming a handgun. That may be the lesson coming out of Charm City as the pandemic grinds on. Private businesses and schools may be shut down, but the gang bangers still out there murdering each other with abandon. The body count in Baltimore from gang warfare is still leaving the coronavirus in the dust. (Baltimore Sun)

Since March 23, the city has seen 11 killings in 12 days, with at least 18 more people shot and wounded. That doesn’t include a man fatally shot by a police officer. March finished with 18 homicides, a number in line with what’s typically been recorded during the month in recent years.

But the overall crime picture remains more complex. Total reported crime in Baltimore has indeed dipped, as have calls to 911, data show. Reported property crime is down considerably: Burglaries, larcenies and auto thefts have fallen each of the past three weeks, and have been cut in half compared with the same period last year.

That is keeping with a trend reported in other cities where stay-at-home orders and general fears about the coronavirus have driven down crime. But Baltimore, like other cities, continues to see gunfire.

Amazingly, following the declared state of emergency, Baltimore didn’t record a single murder for five straight days. I’m fairly sure that’s a record for the city going back quite a few years. Sadly, once that brief break was over, the situation returned to what passes for “normal” in Charm City and there was an average of one killing per day for the rest of the month. That still leaves them on track for another year with somewhere in the range of 350 murders.

By contrast, the coronavirus has resulted in 57 deaths thus far, but they are spread over the entire state. The number specific to the city of Baltimore was much lower… at least for now.

The good news (assuming you can call it that) is that property crime, including burglaries, is down considerably as compared to the same period last year. That makes sense in a sad sort of way. Lots of people are staying home all day and the schools are closed so their houses aren’t sitting empty. It’s much easier to rob a home when the owners aren’t there, so options for the criminals are limited. But even a significant decrease doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of crime. The Baltimore PD recorded 64 robberies across the city for the week ending March 28.

As previously noted, this trend led the Mayor of Baltimore to put out a plea last month for the gangs to stop shooting people so there would be room in the ICU beds for people coming down with the coronavirus. Amazingly, his polite request appears to have fallen on deaf ears.

Baltimore was already in plenty of trouble before the COVID-19 outbreak hit the city and now things are even more dire. If the city’s leaders can’t do the job of protecting their citizens, it’s time for the denizens of Baltimore to vote them out and replace them with people willing and able to get the job done.