BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The head of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services speaks for the first time about a series of teenage assaults in Baltimore and the police commissioner believing consequences are not harsh enough for some young offenders.
Victims and police have long called these brazen attacks unacceptable.
Secretary of Juvenile Services Sam Abed says he agrees, and that public safety is his number one priority.
“We’ve had a number of conversations with the police department at various levels, including myself with the police commissioner,” Abed said.
Abed is responding to the wave of teenagers attacking people in Baltimore that has left victims bruised, bloody, and demanding accountability.
“The crimes that we’re seeing in the community right now, absolutely troubling. Those are something we need to address, because I’m a resident of this city, just like you are and others are, and I have my family here, and we all want to be safe,” he said.
Abed says he won’t second guess judges, but he’s had meetings with Baltimore PD Commissioner Kevin Davis, who has called for a tougher approach.
“Get ahold of these violent kids. It’s absolutely unacceptable that I have to stand up here and talk about 13 and 14 year olds that we have to arrest again and again, because our criminal justice system and our society isn’t doing what we need to be doing,” Davis said during a press conference last week.
“While we are focused on rehabilitation, when a youth is committed to the department, they’re confined. They’re not free to go, and so, that is part of the accountability,” Abed said.
Police believe they were looking for someone to rob.
Police have amped up their presence in tourist areas, and have deployed decoy units to catch young offenders.
WJZ asked Rep. Elijah Cummings about the problem.
“I can understand the public’s frustration when they see young people committing these crimes. I can understand it. At the same time, we all need to take some responsibility here,” Cummings said.
Congressman Cummings praised the mayor’s holistic approach, as she meets everyday with department heads to try to stem the violence.
Abed says the number of repeat young offenders statewide is down, but the number of arrests for certain violent crimes, like felony assault, is up in Baltimore.