People, crime is up.
If memory serves me correct, the entire Western District is like 2.7 square miles and has a population of 40-some thousand. (Without going to block-level census data, population for Baltimore's police districts is not easy to determine. And even with the census, could any area be as hard to count accurately?)
66 homicides is about 25 murders per square mile. In one year. Extrapolated over a lifetime, you're more likely to be murdered in Baltimore's Eastern or Western District than die in the D-Day Assault on Normandy.
I just spent a day in Malta, perched over the Grand Harbour, looking at Open Baltimore data. This is my view:
(Which goes along great with this book.)
Here's what bothers me about all these killings: the concerted effort to shift focus elsewhere, specifically to police. And one result of this police-are-the-problem narrative is more dead people. I'm all for fixing society and even fixing police. In the meantime, can we let police do their job? In the Nation, Mychal Denzel Smith writes:
The fight to end police violence is not separate from that to end intra-racial violence, because they are direct results of the same system, and must be addressed through the same measures.Actually, no. They're not the result of the same system. Police violence does, some of the time, represent America's history of racial oppression. But other times it represents nothing more than a good cop having a bad day or a bad cop simply being bad.
Intra-racial violence may be a legacy of slavery (though I find it interesting that the Left doesn't like subscribing to this belief) or it may be because of more recent discrimination. It also may be because people choose a culture and lifestyle that thinks it's OK to pick up a gun and shoot somebody. It may -- get this -- be all of the above.
But at some point, from a police perspective, I don't care what caused it; I care what causes it. A homicide happens when somebody has a beef, gets a gun, loads it, finds the sucka, goes up to him, pulls out the gun, pulls the trigger, and aims well enough to hit the person. And then the person has to die.There are a lot of steps. So much can go wrong! If any one of those steps breaks down, the person lives! A homicide postponed is often a homicide prevented. This is where police can be effective.
Except for the death of Freddie Gray, things had been looking up in Baltimore. People were moving into the city for the first time in decades. Homicides were near a multi-decade low. Police were arresting a small fraction of what they had been just a few years earlier. And then Freddie Gray done dies and some knuckleheads decide police are the biggest problem facing Baltimore City. Next there were protests, and then riots, and then six cops were criminally charged, at least most of them, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nothing else changed in Baltimore. Not in the macro sense. The "system" didn't change when some Baltimoreans decided to riot.
Smith links to some post, Stop Pretending the “Ferguson Effect” is Real:
In fact, 2015 has been one of the safest years in the past two decades. … As such, fears of a national “crime spike” are not based in reality.Really?!
2015 saw a huge increase in murder, perhaps the largest increase in the homicide rate in US history. Just because we don't yet know the accurate numbers doesn't mean those bodies aren't dead. Those dead bodies are a reality some people prefer not to see.
The "system" didn't get more racist and unjust on or after April 27th. There is "evidence" -- no matter how much it is denied -- that A) violence is up, B) policing matters, and C) Ferguson, broadly defined, changed things.
But Smith says:
This position rests on a few different fallacies: first, that police are being less aggressive out of fear of being the next cop to have their tactics publicly scrutinized, and secondly, that aggressive policing leads to a reduction in violent crime. There is no evidence to support this.Except it is true. I've been noticing this "there is no evidence to support this" a lot recently. And it's always from those who deny the efficacy of police. It's a smug assertion from people ideologically biased or simply too lazy to open their eyes to reality. Usually it's from those who simply wish they could wish the existing evidence away, be it the effective Broken Windows policing in 1990s or the dramatic rise in violence last year.
Smith turns to incidents of cops being violent to prove his point. But dammit, a schoolgirl brought to the ground in a classroom really does not prove anything about policing a drug corning in Baltimore. If you want to say the whole damn system is guilty, great; y ou might even be right. You still haven't told a single police officer how to confront a violent criminal. And God only knows you've never done it yourself.
So after Freddie Gray's death and the riots of April 27, calls for service in the Western went down some 20 percent, compared to the previous year (this is a bit of an educated guess as Open Baltimore data goes back only to Jan 2015). Maybe people bought the narrative that police were no good. Maybe people thought police were too busy with real problem to bother with their petty bullshit. For whatever reason, calls for service went down and crime went up. (Even at a reduced load, there were still 280 calls dispatched a day, just in the Western District. As one friend put it, "If they hate us so much, why do they keep calling for us to be with them?")
Those racist cops, most of them black and other minorities, were worried about their safety and worried about being arrested for making on honest mistake or no mistake at all. Moreso, police were disgusted at a political system that made them the scapegoat and a liberal narrative that made police out to be the bad guys while simultaneously making a hero out of some two-bit junkie criminal who never held a real job and cycled in and out of the criminal justice system. Of everybody who's died in Baltimore. Hell even if you think Freddie Gray was killed, of everybody who's been killed in Baltimor -- hell, of everybody who's been killed by police in Baltimore, you go make make a hero out of this guy?! It just don't make sense. Of course that affected how police do their job.