BALTIMORE (WJZ)– From attacks at the Inner Harbor to carjackings throughout the City, police say crime involving teenagers is simply out of control.
Government agencies are now banding together to get a hold on the violence with daily morning huddles to combat youth violence.
“The reason why we know who they are is because we lock them up again, again and again and I’m pretty damn certain that their parents, guardians, grandparents and neighbors know who the hell they are as well,” said Baltimore City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
Commissioner Davis blasted the criminal justice system Thursday, regarding teens that are constant repeat offenders, but are making their way back on the streets.
“The fact that they are out here doing it again, again and again is indicative of the broken juvenile criminal justice system,” Davis said.
The latest frustration comes after a carjacking Thursday morning in Northwest Baltimore, outside a synagogue after a man dropped his kid off for school.
“He was pinned by the suspects’ car. He tried to run, they chased him, beat him up, took his car keys and took off in his car” Davis said.
The juveniles possibly connected to the incident were later tracked down, one of them as young as 10-years-old.
“I just want to feel safe, it’s as simple as that,” Noam Shiman said. “A little bit more vigilant, a little bit more careful in general.”
“The problems are much deeper than the crime. It’s the problems that are causing the crime,” said Nathan Willner of the Baltimore Shomrim Safety Patrol. “I think that when there’s situation with violent crimes there has to be some penalties.”
Last week, in a story WJZ first reported, there was a string of attacks by teens at the Inner Harbor and the Fed Hill area that left some hospitalized.
“They stomped her, kicked her, threw her to the ground, beat her with a bat,” said Kia Martin, whose daughter was attacked at the Inner Harbor near the Maryland Science Center on Halloween night.
Police arrested four teens in connection to several of those attacks on Halloween.
“It’s a shame that I even have to say the word juvenile and repeat offender in the same breath” Davis said. “Unemployment, poverty, family dysfunctions, drug addictions, all of those are very real in our city but they do not excuse violent behavior by anyone.”
“I’m sure every victim in this city who had a gun stuck in their face by a 16-year-old kid and their car taken from them, or if they’re even beat up by a 16-year-old kid, want that child to be held accountable” said T.J. Smith with the Baltimore Police Department. “A new recreational center is not going to address some of the concerns that 14 and 15-year-old’s are out on the streets doing.”
Some often say it’s a lack of evidence in the cases as to why the teens are let back on the streets.
“I think it’s disingenuous to say that we are seeking plea agreements, split sentences and suspended sentences because you, the police department, aren’t bringing us good probable cause. I reject that” Davis said.
City mayor Catherine Pugh has now implemented a daily morning huddle, everyday at 8 a.m., involving all government agencies to discuss crime from the day before.
Pugh ordered 30 agency heads to meet every morning at police headquarters, and to make crime reduction the top mission not only of police, but also of health workers, housing officials and public works crews.
“Violence in the city is out of control,” she said. “I want every neighborhood to know I am extremely concerned and focused on reducing violence.”
“When we know a young person is chronically absent, how are we deploying our student support services to get ahead of a young person who might have been absent for a longer period of time, and might, might, might be a candidate for criminal behavior” said Dr. Sonia Santelises with Baltimore City Public Schools. “One other thing we’re working on that school police has done is actually having principals and school personnel be part of the patrols of those certain areas because they have relationships with young people.”
“We all need to look at ourselves in the mirror as a community, parents, grandparents, guardians in particular and get a hold of these violent kids who are wreaking havoc in our city right now,” Davis said.
“We must do everything we can,” Pugh said. “We’ve already hit 303 murders, which is totally unacceptable. … We know we can do better.”
Mayor Pugh added that they’re trying to get every street light in the City switched over to led lighting to help people feel more safe on their streets. She says they’re implementing $2 million worth of technology, including laptops, into the patrol cars of officers. and that she’s seeking $10 million in funding for next year, to possibly expand the Safe Streets Program.