Baltimore has gone 10 consecutive days without a homicide, but there have been a number of non-fatal shootings during that window.
This seems as good of a reason to pop the champagne as any. While the Baltimore Police Department continues to be plagued by their corruption scandal, the good people of Baltimore have decided to give officers a reprieve and not murder anyone for 10 consecutive days.
The most recent homicide listed on the Baltimore Sun’s homicide tracker happened on February 3. Jerrell Brice was shot in the head and passed away from his injuries on the 3rd. However, the shooting happened close to midday on February 1.
Technicality? Yes, but in a city that has been plagued by violence and ended 2017 with the highest per-capita murder rate in Baltimore’s history, any news is good news. The streak is the longest Baltimore has gone without a murder since 2015. The longest historical streak of consecutive days without a homicide in Baltimore came back in 2014 when the city went 17 consecutive days without a killing.
Erricka Bridgeford, an organizer for Baltimore Ceasefire, said in an interview that she was thrilled by the news.
“I am losing-my-mind thrilled,” she said. Bridgeford had even been staying up late until midnight in recent days to read through news reports in the hope that the city had gone another day without a homicide.
The data, however, presents a slightly less optimistic picture. During this 10-day window, there have been five non-fatal shootings in Baltimore. While it is certainly good news to see 10 consecutive days without a fatality, that is more thanks to good work by emergency medical personnel than it is by any change in the violent crime rate. This is why the homicide rate is not always indicative of violent crime in the charm city, especially as medical advancements allow doctors and EMTs to provide life-saving medical care to gunshot victims.
In late last year, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh declared that she was confident that the city was “trending in the right direction” regarding violent crime. In the last quarter of 2017, homicides in five of Baltimore’s worst neighborhoods had fallen from 1.5 murders a week to just 1 murder a week. Not exactly a big enough improvement to celebrate, but the mayor’s office was still confident that the city was making progress.
Since then, the Baltimore Police Department corruption trial and the mayor’s decision to fire the chief of police have re-cast doubt on the city’s ability to police its own officers, let alone the population at large. The Department’s elite Gun Trace Task Force — empowered to crack down on the city’s criminal elements and taking illegal guns off the streets — has come under new scrutiny after a number of its officers were charged with a wide range of corruption related crimes. Of the 14 officers charged, six pled guilty. Officers were accused of using their positions to steal from criminals.
The task force has also been accused of using heavy-handed, and even illegal, tactics to catch criminals. One allegation is that officers would illegally place GPS devices on criminals’ cars, monitor their movements, and then even break into their homes to steal their illicit gains. The corruption case is unique because the six police officers who pled guilty are actually testifying against the other accused officers.
If the Baltimore Police Department was illegally and unconstitutionally cracking down on gang members and drug dealers in order to take illegal drugs off the streets — which is the case, considering that officers have pled guilty to these allegations — then that spells trouble for Baltimore.
The illegal police tactics allegedly began in 2014 and continued up until the arrests were made last year. While 2014 saw one of the lowest homicide totals in recent memory, each year since has either set a homicide record or come extremely close to setting one.
The point is that if the Baltimore Police Department’s Gun Trace Task Force — the group tasked with reducing homicides by taking illegal guns off the streets — could not make a dent in the city’s homicide totals even when they were flagrantly breaking the law during their investigations, it is hard to see how by-the-books police work would be more successful.