BALTIMORE (WJZ) – The mayor and the city’s top cop work to rebuild the community’s broken trust. Amid a major crime spike, leaders are out meeting with residents night after night. But can they repair relationships, and stop the violence?
Derek Valcourt has the latest effort.
This was the second of what the mayor promised would be several public safety forums throughout the summer. They wanted feedback on policing, and they got it.
The mayor and police commissioner got an earful at a standing room only public safety forum in the Central District.
Many are outraged over the recent sharp spike in murders, which has led police to recruit help from federal law enforcement agencies.
“Those are steps in the right direction, but in my thinking, they are reactive and not proactive,” one woman said.
The forums are a chance to hear firsthand complaints and questions from people like Audrey Parker, who no longer trust police.
“Because you tell them something and they’ll come right back and put you right out there in front of everybody and let everybody know that you told them,” she said. “So who wants to go through that?”
“All they do is just ride up and down the street. They harass us a lot,” one man said.
“It punches you in the gut a little bit,” said Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis, Baltimore Police Department.
Interim Commissioner Davis is promising to take the criticisms back to the department and make changes.
“Teach cops that what they say matters and their demeanor matters,” he said. “How they interact with people at their worst, it matters.”
“I know that some people think it’s just a dog and pony show, but it’s absolutely not,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
The mayor says what she learned from her last round of community forums helped launch a series of reforms in the police department and caused her to fight in Annapolis for changes to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.
There have been 192 murders in Baltimore so far this year.