Right Hooks

Baltimore Mayor Implores FBI for Solutions to Murder Wave

The outreach could create some interesting long-term implications for the city and the Democrat Party.

Jordan Candler · May 3, 2017

The bloodshed in Baltimore isn’t letting up. In fact, as of last week the city had recorded 100 homicides already. Year-to-date, that represents the highest number of homicides since 1998. As such, Mayor Catherine Pugh — to her credit — wants federal authorities to help quell the violence. Declaring that “murder is out of control,” Pugh says: “I’m calling on all the assistance we can possibly get because I can’t imagine, going into our summer months with our crime rate where it is today, what that’s going to look like by the end of the summer.”

Pugh’s surprising, albeit welcome, outreach is being met with skepticism. But regardless of differing opinions, her efforts are more than we could ever say of Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, whose witch hunt against six police officers in the Freddie Gray case ultimately ended her mayoral career (though she’d probably never admit it). Perhaps the biggest question revolves around the long-term implications of Pugh’s vision. City leaders have been pushing to enact a suspicious police department overhaul that caught the eye of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. If Baltimore wants to take this new route, everybody needs to be on the same page. And it’s still highly debatable whether a consensus actually exists.

Another issue could be that the FBI’s sole involvement doesn’t go far enough. Rob Weinhold, who is described as a public safety expert, expressed his own view on the matter: “I don’t think relying on federal resources is a new strategy at all. In fact, I think the devil is in the detail. You can talk about the FBI and that’s fine, but I’d actually like to see more emphasis on drug enforcement administration, ATF, and the Marshall service to get these folks who are wanted on warrants off the street.” That’s understandable. But baby steps are probably necessary and wise considering the formerly hostile environment.

Interestingly, Pugh’s idea could also create a broader conundrum for other Democrats — especially those who chastised Donald Trump for threatening to “send in the feds” to Chicago. That city, like Baltimore, is struggling to stop the bloodshed. Both cities — and other urban poverty plantations — are linked by a common thread: Most homicides occur in just a handful of counties. “The worst 1 percent of counties have 19 percent of the population and 37 percent of the murders in 2014,” according to researcher John R. Lott, who adds, “68 percent of the murders occurred in only 5 percent of counties.” Is Pugh beginning to understand this? If so, people will have yet another reason to wonder what Democrat leaders who scolded Trump’s “send in the feds” remark are really fussing about.

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