Baltimore Crime Rate Confirms Ferguson Effect
The Maryland city leads the nation in murder rate as police have become wary of policing.
Last year Baltimore, Maryland, led the nation in homicides, continuing its growing trend in violent crime that began in 2015 following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody. That happened during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests across the nation. Feeling the pressure, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake refused to back the city’s police department, thus precipitating days of violent rioting only quelled after the National Guard was brought in.
Six Baltimore city police officers were put on trial over Gray’s death, resulting in three acquittals and the city dropping the case against the other three. Barack Obama’s Justice Department investigated Baltimore’s police department and accused “Baltimore’s police of arresting thousands of people without a valid legal basis, using unjustified force and targeting black neighborhoods for unconstitutional stops.” Needless to say, the message had a chilling effect upon the city’s law enforcement.
Now USA Today reports, “The surge of shootings and killings that followed has left Baltimore easily the deadliest large city in the United States. Its murder rate reached an all-time high last year; 342 people were killed. The number of shootings in some neighborhoods has more than tripled. One man was shot to death steps from a police station. Another was killed driving in a funeral procession.”
While the city’s police officers have been as vigilant as ever in responding to crimes, what has changed has been proactive policing. As USA Today further explains, “Millions of police records show officers in Baltimore respond to calls as quickly as ever. But they now begin far fewer encounters themselves. From 2014 to 2017, dispatch records show the number of suspected narcotics offenses police reported themselves dropped 30 percent; the number of people they reported seeing with outstanding warrants dropped by half. The number of field interviews — instances in which the police approach someone for questioning — dropped 70 percent.”
A retired police officer explained the attitude, stating, “These guys aren’t stupid. They realize that if they do something wrong, they’re going to get their head bit off. There’s no feeling that anybody’s behind them anymore, and they’re not going to do it. Nobody wants to put their head in the pizza oven when the pizza oven is on.” In other words, it’s the “Ferguson Effect,” and it is deadly. And more often than not, black people are the victims. For all their protesting and rioting, in the end it appears that saving the lives of black people is less important to BLM than is impugning police for alleged institutional racism as part of the fight for leftist “social justice” causes.