Which of the citywide initiatives to help cut the homicide rate has been the most successful?
What everyone talks about most is these plainclothes cops, which are very controversial. These are detectives who are working in unmarked cars. They gather intelligence. When Baltimore’s homicides dipped below 200, in 2011, for first time in decades, one of the things pointed to were these units. They were chasing down leads, looking for guns and getting info on who has them. But a lot of black residents were being unfairly harassed. At the John Hopkins gun policy center they say that some units that are specifically trained to spot guns have shown effectiveness in other cities. But these units also run the risk of alienating the neighborhood.
So what can be done to turn things around in Baltimore?
I can only speak to what the residents tell me. And they tell me repeatedly that there aren’t enough things for you to do on the streets. They say that they want more recreation centers; they miss the different athletic leagues and getting youths involved with good influences. And there’s certainly that notion that a lot of these kids need people who are rooting for them. And when I say kids, I’m talking about teens here. I think if there’s a boost in the economy, you’ll see a change. But I want to express, I’m not an expert in any of this — I’m just a humble journalist. But I do think people underplay the poverty in the city. They really don’t understand it.
September 9, 2015
"I do think people underplay the poverty in [Baltimore]. They really don’t understand it."
There's an interview with Justin George in The Trace. He was a Baltimore Sun reporter who recently moved on to Milwaukee. I like that he's willing to consider the possibility there might be some trade-off between aggressive policing, which causes community resentment, and getting illegal guns off the streets, which saves lives: