BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore is averaging a murder a day in 2017. And there seems to be no end in sight to the bloodshed. While there’s progress between police and the community, the number of killing continues to soar.
WJZ Investigative reporter Mike Hellgren has new analysis of where Baltimore stands compared to other U.S. cities.
While there appears to be no quick fix, Baltimore City’s police commissioner says he will never go back to “zero tolerance” policing.
In some parts of Baltimore, the number of killings is out of control. The city has seen more than one murder every day this year.
“Back in the 90s, I could sit in my living room with the door open and wouldn’t have to worry about somebody running through the kill me or nothing,” says Jason Brooks, who’s lived in west Baltimore his whole life and hasn’t felt safe for a long time.
WJZ analysis finds Baltimore surpasses almost every major city when it comes to homicide numbers.
Washington, D.C. has had 11 killing year-to-date. New York City has 27, Philadelphia has 35, Detroit has 24, Los Angeles has 34. Baltimore has 43 — only Chicago has more murders with 58, but for Chicago’s two killings per 100,000 people, Baltimore has seen seven.
“I think we can’t be satisfied with looking singularly at a number and thinking because a number goes up or down in a particular calendar year, that we’re figuring it out and we’re doing something right,” says Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
The commissioner says his plan is simple: target repeat violent offenders, but he’s also implementing a consent decree with the federal government that has made strides in community relations but has not stemmed the bloodshed.
“The answer is not going back in time, and adopting a strategy that with any degree of hindsight, you can see that some of those policing strategies where we ended up,” the police commissioner says.
“It’s a major challenge for any police leader, especially Commissioner Davis, to accomplish both. There is no such thing as a quick fix. It is a long-term challenge,” says University of Baltimore Criminologist Dr. Jeffrey Ian Ross.
The mayor points to the addition of 200 officers to patrol positions but tells WJZ it doesn’t end there.
“This is not one strategy that’s going to work. It’s about how we bring the community together to help work with us. The police department can’t do this by themselves,” says Mayor Catherine Pugh.
The mayor has tried a wide-ranging approach involving every single city department in the crime fight. The commissioners also spoken out about appropriate sentences to make sure that the justice system isn’t just a revolving door.
The commissioner says he welcomes federal help. Baltimore saw its highest per capita murder rate in 2015, with 344 homicides.