Baltimore's arrest policies have left plenty of 'space to destroy' (and mug) ever since Mayor Rawlings-Blake took office
Many commentators have noted the paltry number of arrests last night in the widespread rioting and looting that afflicted a wide area of West Baltimore. The governor of Maryland is bringing in large numbers of National Guard troops and is asking for thousands of law enforcement officers from jurisdictions throughout the region to come and assist, so arrests may increase substantially if the thugs are out again today and tonight.
But when Baltimore authorities are in charge, arrests do not seem a priority. Colin Flaherty addressed the pattern of police behavior in Baltimore on these pages last September:
The idea that crime in Baltimore is going down comes up every time a case of black mob violence hits the local news. Which is pretty much all the time. Everything except that black part, that is, which they leave out.
Baltimore reporters are getting tired of having to constantly remind everyone how their city is safe -- and getting safer.
“Impressions matter. Crime stats do not,” lamented Peter Hermann, chief crime apologist for the Baltimore Sun.
Hermann was explaining life in the big city to a New Jersey yokel who wanted to know what happened to the large group of black people that was rampaging through downtown Baltimore, attacking people, destroying property, and creating mayhem. All beneath her hotel balcony window in the upscale Inner Harbor.
That really does not narrow it down much, because what seemed “scary” to her, Hermann said, was “normal and routine” to grizzled observers of the gritty Baltimore crime beat. Police “made no arrests, saw no crime, had no reason to make an announcement. There’s not even a report -- it’s just something that happens,” he said.
Last summer there was so much crime, so much video, so many people wondering why it was happening so often, that Governor O’Malley suggested that the new mayor might want to copy what he did to fight crime when he was mayor: Put more boots on the ground.
Not on my watch, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the Baltimore Sun:
"Returning to the days of mass arrests for any and every minor offense might be a good talking point but it has been proven to be a far less effective strategy for actually reducing crime.”
This came just a few months after Maryland legislator Pat McDonough called on the governor to declare downtown Baltimore a “No-Travel Zone” because of all the “black” people who were “terrorizing” the area.
The mayor did not like that advice either.
She had her own plan and it was working just fine: Just stop arresting people. When O’Malley was mayor, the city collared 100,000 miscreants a year. Last year, they nabbed 50,000.
This allows the Mayor to brag to anyone willing to listen that violent crime in Baltimore is down -- 45 percent since the year 2000.
They may have stopped arresting people, but crime just keeps on chugging along. Locals know the truth: Baltimore is a dangerous place for racial violence and the people who run the town -- and their mouthpieces at the local paper -- could not care less.
“Space to destroy” (and mug) seems to have been a policy of the mayor of Baltimore for quite some time.