To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Baltimore Beat

I was going to just comment on Leo's post, but then realized about three paragraphs deep that I can post at TtP, so why not do that?

First, I had seen Curran's idea this morning, but not the details. There has been a lot of talk about beefing up foot patrols in high-crime areas, because, surprise, it tends to lower crime when police patrol communities and engage with residents. More police tend to reduce crime in general; but the community interaction addresses the real problem in violent crime prevention in the city. The lack of reliable witnesses for violent crime. Not witnesses to the shootings or murders, plenty of people see these crimes, rather witnesses willing to come forward. A couple of reasons why that is the case.

1) No one is willing to trust the state's attorney to provide protection. It's inadequate and anyone who can read the paper or lives in the city knows that. You come forward, the criminals find you, and if you're lucky, shoot you. If you are not lucky they firebomb your house and kill your entire family in an inferno. Prove to city residents that you can protect witnesses then more will come forward.** 2) No one in this city trust the cops. White, black, poor, wealthy. No one trusts them. Why? A lot of obvious reasons that you could find in any city, i.e. police corruption (although I could make the argument that for a police force the size of the city's, corruption is abnormally high). But another factor is the lack of police patrols outside of patrol cars. We don't have regular foot beats (it's beginning to change and has shown to reduce crime) that help foster relationships between officers and communities. Increase the size of the force and require all cops to do a year or two of foot patrolling in their district and you will prevent murders. I do not doubt this.

Is the economic condition of the city as bad as Leo claims? I don't think so. The city still carries the moniker Crane City and has an increasingly vibrant downtown. To compare it Pittsburgh is comparing apples to oranges. Baltimore is still a city of neighborhoods that people actually live and work in. It has (I believe) the deepest cold water port on the east coast and it has done its part to stay competitive. It doesn't hurt that the city is located where it is, near the ever-growing federal bureaucracies and a favorable location for BRAC. I need Leo to quote more than one firm leaving the city before I will give in to her point.

**Another problem is the unwillingness of witnesses to take advantage of protection. Too often these are folks who have never left their neighborhood in Baltimore, let alone the state, and won't move to protected out-of-city residences when they are told to. Who knows how you convince these people to leave.

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