Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the spike in homicides has not diminished her faith in the police chief she appointed 16 months ago.
Asked today if her confidence in Commissioner Anthony W. Batts’ leadership has wavered, the mayor said, “no,” adding that she believes the policing strategy announced by Batts and herself in November, following a consultants’ study, “works.”
The study contained more than 150 recommendations, including improving patrol staffing and deployment, better targeting of violent repeat offenders, cooperating more with the state’s attorney’s office and enhancing police relations with the community.
City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young has criticized the $287,000 report for not offering new ideas and recycling advice that was commonly known.
On the heels of an uptick in homicides last year, making 2013 the most violent year in Baltimore since 2009, homicides have surged to 16 killings in the first two weeks of 2014 – more than double last year’s toll of 6.
Here is what the mayor said this morning in response to reporters’ questions at City Hall:
Everyone of us had hoped that the year would start off better. We have had several homicides [16 as of last night] and shootings and we responded to those.
The difficulty is, in the past we’ve seen spikes and they had been localized and the efforts we put forth to increase patrols and shut down an area, like we’ve done before – that response isn’t possible. These are very targeted hits. Many of the individuals have been shot in the head. These are not accidental acts.
One of the incidents, based on preliminary feedback, is that the gentleman was laying in wait for someone. So, this, as I’ve seen before: all hands on deck. Yes, it is a public safety issue, but it’s not simply a police issue.
I have faith that we have a strategy that works, a strategy that depends on, yes, the police doing their jobs, and, as I said, we are putting more resources out there, more feet on the street, but we aren’t ever going to police out way out of this.
It has to be in partnership with the community. We all have to participate. We all have to play a very vital role. If you see something that doesn’t look right, like a car that doesn’t belong in your neighborhood, say something.
We are working very hard to strengthen the relationships between police and the community, so we can build on those relationships of trust and work in partnership with the community to get that information.
The residents do not want to live in communities where they feel under siege by criminals or the police. In order for us to do this, we have to continue to work together.