Looking for 'new ideas,' Baltimore mayor fires police commissioner
Before the incident involving the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, the city of Baltimore had one of the highest crime rates in the country.
Since the riots that tore the city apart and the federal government putting the city's police under the microscope, it's only gotten worse. The police are refusing to patrol high-crime areas for fear that they will be involved in a shooting incident with a civilian. And since former mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake gave the "protesters" permission to riot, the sense of law and order has become even more frayed.
Whose fault is it? Current mayor Catherine Pugh thinks it's because police commissioner Kevin Davis isn't reducing the sky-high murder rate fast enough and blames him for the chaos in the streets.
Baltimore's mayor on Friday ousted city [p]olice [c]ommissioner Kevin Davis in favor of one of his deputies, saying the city wasn't reducing violence fast enough amid a soaring homicide rate.
DeSousa said one of his first initiatives is to temporarily put more officers on the streets – largely by transferring administrative officers and detectives to patrol duties – and to place them in "strategic locations," such as areas near "problematic businesses."
His promotion comes after Baltimore tallied more than 340 homicides in 2017 – the highest yearly number on record there in more than two decades.
"I'm impatient," Pugh said in a news conference Friday morning. "We need violence reduction. We need the numbers to go down faster than they are."
Former commissioner Davis could have put more officers on the street. Why get rid of him?
DeSousa didn't say how many more officers would be on patrol, and he at one point declined to say how long this surge would last, other than that it would go "for a while."
He also said the current increase was deliberately timed to coincide with the first anniversary of a 13-day stretch – January 19 through 31, 2017 – during which the city had an "unacceptable" count of 18 homicides and 40 nonfatal shootings.
"I think that this initiative during this next 13-day period is going to be very effective," he said.
DeSousa said his main priorities were to reduce violence and crack down on violent, repeat offenders.
"I have a real strong message for the trigger-pullers: [w]e're coming after them," he said. "It's going to be (an) accelerated pace. The district commanders in all nine districts know who they are. And we're coming after them."
Not very "creative," is it? At the risk of stating the obvious, more police officers on the streets is fine but hardly a long-term solution. What's needed is a culture change in the department that will give officers confidence that when they go into battle against the animals running wild in the city, the politicians and their superiors will have their backs.
It will take years to repair the damage done by both the corruption in the department and the loss of confidence in the politicians who run the city. It's ironic that the "crackdown on repeat violent offenders" being planned by the new commissioner is one of the oldest ideas in policing and hardly new or creative.
But that's where the city's government has fallen down. If you coddle criminals, they won't be grateful. They will take full advantage of your wrongheaded "solutions" to violent crime and make life miserable for residents.