The Washington Post reports that Baltimore’s mayor has abruptly replaced Police Commissioner Kevin Davis weeks after the city ended 2017 with a record-setting homicide rate. The mayor, Catherine Pugh, was responding to increased pressure to control crime.
Violent crime began spiraling out of control in Baltimore after the police came under attack by local politicians following the accidental death of Freddy Gray in 2015. As we discussed here, police officers responded to the criticism by policing less proactively, and the murder rate soared.
The Obama DOJ then made matters worse by citing the police department for alleged discrimination against blacks. As evidence of “discrimination,” the DOJ noted that officers make a “disproportionate” amount of stops and arrests in certain predominantly black neighborhoods. But these are the neighborhoods in which violent crime is most prevalent.
As the police force became increasingly passive, the homicide rate continued to rise. Baltimore finished 2017 with a record-breaking 343 homicides, making it one of the deadliest cities in the country, according to the Washington Post.
The police chief, brought in not that long after the Freddy Gray riots, was in an impossible situation. He was tasked with driving down violent crime while reforming the department to satisfy federal bureaucrats who want less real policing in high crime areas.
Fortunately, it looks like the new chief, Darryl DeSouza, won’t have to labor under this burden. The mayor is under intense political pressure to improve public safety. Accordingly, DeSouza has pledged to stem the bloodshed through “real, active, constitutional policing.” To make good on this pledge, he immediately dispatched an extra contingent of uniformed officers to the streets, according to the Post.
Which streets? The Post doesn’t say. But I’m betting he sent the officers into the areas where the problem of violent crime is most acute, without worrying about the race of those who will be stopped and arrested there.
One hopes that the Justice Department won’t be too displeased. It is, after all, under new and very different leadership.
In any case, DeSouza reports to the mayor of Baltimore, not to the DOJ. And he works for the people of Baltimore, not for federal bureaucrats.
There is no guarantee, however, that DeSouza and Pugh can put the homicide genie back in the bottle. When the institutions charged with promoting public safety come under sustained attack, they crack, usually with long term adverse consequences.
A liberal is someone who doesn’t understand this. A radical is someone who understands it all too well.