BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s mayor is asking for help from the FBI as the city struggles to contain a soaring murder rate. But will bringing in the feds stop the killings?
Catherine Pugh pulled no punches earlier this week when she said the violence is out of control.
“I’m calling on all the assistance we can possibly get because I can’t imagine going into our summer months with our crime rate where it is today, what that’s going to look like by the end of the summer,” Mayor Pugh said. “… Murder is out of control.”
Some people are skeptical that the FBI will be able to help matters.
Violence has reached a crisis level, with the number of killings shattering a 20-year high this early in the year.
But WJZ has learned Mayor Pugh wants both manpower and technology from the FBI.
She met with the special agent in charge of the Baltimore division of the FBI, but wouldn’t provide specifics. She says they’ll come out next week, and the FBI isn’t talking.
WJZ spoke to public safety expert Rob Weinhold, who isn’t sure the FBI alone will be effective.
“I don’t think relying on federal resources is a new strategy at all, in fact, I think the devil is in the detail. You can talk about the FBI and that’s fine, but I’d actually like to see more emphasis on drug enforcement administration, ATF, and the Marshall service to get these folks who are wanted on warrants off the street,” says Weinhold.
The Bureau has 56 field offices nationwide and provides assistance in gang and drug cases.
President Trump has advocated sending in feds to stem violence in Chicago and other cities.
The FBI helped during another crisis-point Baltimore: the riots, using a video-equipped surveillance plane to monitor lawbreakers, alarming privacy advocates.
As WJZ reported this week, the feds also worked with city police to take down a street gang, arresting the member accused of murdering three-year-old McKenzie Elliott.
“If we support these police officers, who are out there working for the community every day, we’re going to be able to turn the tide,” says former U.S. Attorney for Maryland, now U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The question remains: will more FBI help effectively stop the bloodshed? The mayor believes she doesn’t have time to wait.
“We are looking for all the help that we can get,” she says.
There have been other plans like this before, including the “War Room” effort, whether this effort will be anything new and different will be revealed in coming weeks.
This week, Baltimore reached a grim milestone: 100 murders before the end of April. It’s the first time that’s happened since 1998.