An unprecedented wave of crime throughout Baltimore has shocked and dismayed law enforcement and city officials alike. According to new police statistics, crime has become a prevalent lifestyle in the Baltimore area – at the expense of the general public’s health.
Last year’s crime spree runs the gamut in illegal activities: robberies increased 16 percent from 2014, burglaries were up by 11 percent, aggravated assaults by 6 percent, and automobile thefts occurred a walloping 21 percent more often.
Most telling of all, the 344 homicides is what truly makes 2015 the deadliest year in the city (on a per-capita basis). The only time Baltimore ever had more homicides was in 1993, with 353 homicides, and at a point when Baltimore had nearly 100 thousand more citizens.
Unsurprisingly, a vast majority (90 percent) of this year’s homicides came as the result of shootings. If nonfatal shootings are counted into the mix, then gun injuries were up over 75 percent than 2014, with over Baltimore 900 residents shot in total. This has prompted a rash of gun control groups to call for stricter firearm laws to be adopted by city and state legislators.
A closer look into the homicide statistics reveals more information. Over 90 percent of the homicide victims in 2015 were of African-American descent, ranging from children to adults, and over half of them were between the ages of 18 and 30 upon their demise. Civil rights activists claim these numbers back up their claims that urban residents are often caught up in the black market selling drugs due to a lack of viable employment opportunities.
Almost two dozen of the homicide victims in 2015 were children, some even toddlers.
Crime experts could identify no single cause for the crime surge in Baltimore, but many say that the civil unrest caused by the Freddie Gray case served as a launch pad for future violence. Prior to the civil unrest, Baltimore had not experienced 30 or more homicides per month since June of 2007.
Now, however, the murder rate for Baltimore parallels much larger cities. Baltimore has a population of roughly 620 thousand, but a murder rate that more closely matches that of New York City’s, which has a population of 8.4 million.
These numbers, combined with the recent slaying of three police officers in Baton Rouge, LA, has prompted Baltimore City police to require that two cars show up to every emergency call.
“The safety of our police officers is paramount to their families, our community, and me,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis declared in an official press release. “Our capacity to serve relies on our commitment to keep our police officers safe as they protect our community.”
Aside from offering higher levels of safety, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department named T.J. Smith suggested the two-vehicle approach will achieve a more varied approach to police procedures. He cited an example where one officer returns to the precinct to file the appropriate paperwork after responding to a call, while the other remains on patrol to assist others.
Critics raise the possibility of a longer response time to calls, but Baltimore County Corporal John Wachter said that similar policy changes have gone into effect before with minimal impact.
Neighboring law enforcement agencies, such as the Howard County Police Department, the Carroll County Sherriff’s Office, and the Harford County Sherriff’s Office have made no similar plans to double up officers, With the most violent year in Baltimore’s history behind them, city officials hope that 2016 proves to be a gentler year.