Baltimore’s shrinking police department

The Baltimore Sun reports that in the year since the death of Freddy Gray, 271 sworn members have left Baltimore’s police department. Only 86 have been hired. The department currently has 284 vacant positions in a force of around 2,300.

It’s not difficult to understand the mass resignations (about 3 every 4 days). Gray’s death was followed by riots in which police officers were told to stand down in the face not just of looting, but of attacks on officers themselves. In addition, six officers have been forced to stand trial on what many feel are trumped up charges, after the city prosecutor basically admitted she was pandering to the mob.

Violent crime began to rise soon after Gray’s death. The trend has continued, with no end in sight. According to the Baltimore Sun:

Violent crime has continued at a staggering clip after reaching a per-capita record last year. In the past 12 months, there has been, on average, nearly a homicide per day. In the past week, the pace has been double that.

As the police department attempts to cope with this crime wave, it remains under intense scrutiny. Citizens are quick to complain about minor incidents. During a recent public forum, a mother demanded of the the mayor: “How do you repair a family after they’ve been damaged by the Police Department?” It seems that an officer had searched her son even though, according to the mother, “has never been in trouble, earns good grades and is involved in sports.”

Just how the officer was supposed to know the lad’s grades is unclear.

No wonder the head of the local police union says:

All of us are walking on eggshells. What’s the next explosive thing that’s going to set the powder keg off? What’s the next matchstick?

To make matters worse, the department is bracing for the results of a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the trials of six officers charged in Gray’s arrest and death. The trials are spread out over much of the remaining year, pretty much guaranteeing that police morale will continue to decline.

As for the Justice Department investigation, it seems virtually guaranteed to destroy whatever is left of department morale. Like the city prosecutor, the Obama DOJ can be expected promote the twin goals of grandstanding and upholding a leftist narrative about the police at the expense of fair play for those who try to protect Baltimore’s residents. It’s no skin off the backs of Loretta Lynch and the leftist lawyers in her civil rights division if more police officers resign and crime continues to skyrocket in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Sun describes the “new reality” of policing in Baltimore as “confronting intense violence under intense scrutiny.” With police officers voting with their feet against this reality, the violence is likely to become even more intense.