For the past 10 years, Baltimore has been defunding its police force in what can only be described as a “failed experiment,” according to the City Journal.
A decade ago, Baltimore’s elected officials decided to tackle the city’s crime problems by scaling back the police department.
The current annual homicide rate in Baltimore is 56 per 100,000 residents, up sharply from the original 31 per 100,000 seen 10 years ago.
Since 2011, almost 3,000 Baltimoreans have lost their lives, which equates to one of every 200 residents over that time period. Over this time period, 93% of the homicide victims were African-Americans.
Nevertheless, Baltimore’s elected officials are doubling-down on de-policing. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby no longer intends to prosecute certain “low-level” crimes.
“Today, America’s war on drug users is over in the city of Baltimore. We leave behind the era of tough-on-crime prosecution and zero tolerance policing and no longer default to the status quo to criminalize mostly people of color for addiction,” she said.
“We will develop sustainable solutions and allow our public health partners to do their part to address mental health and substance use disorder.”
Baltimore’s newly elected mayor Brandon Scott has promised a five-year plan to further cut the police budget.
Both Mosby and Scott justify their decisions by stating that the massive homicide rate is proof that policing “hasn’t worked” and see de-funding as a “fresh approach” to policing.
A different idea
In 1999, Baltimore voters elected Martin O’Malley as their mayor, who promised to apply New York’s crime-fighting approach which consisted of expanding the police force.
By 2002, Baltimore’s homicide rate was down 20% below the level in 1999.
Due to issues with various police force commissioners and a lack of understanding of how New York’s policing actually worked, crime rate returned to its 1990s average after O’Malley left in 2007.
O’Malley’s successor, Sheila Dixon, understood community policing and decided to utilize walking patrols, increase training budgets, and encourage community relations.
Dixon’s policies resulted in lowered arrest totals and homicide rates, which fell to a low of 31 per 100,000 residents in 2011.
Unfortunately, Dixon’s departure was shortly followed by the de-funding experiment, due to the more-liberal mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
Unsurprisingly, the de-funding resulted in a homicide rate increase of 20% by 2013. Baltimore’s total annual homicides also spiked as a result of de-funding, and have remained tragically high ever since.