Baltimore Mayor Responds to Attacks on Officers, Says ‘City Is Not Under Siege’

Miguel Moreno
By Miguel Moreno
August 31, 2019USshare
Baltimore Mayor Responds to Attacks on Officers, Says ‘City Is Not Under Siege’
A Baltimore city policeman stands at attention for the National Anthem before a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Minnesota Twins at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 21, 2019. (Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

The mayor of Baltimore said on Aug. 29 that the city was “not under siege” in response to a reporter who cited recent attacks on law enforcement officials over the past six weeks.

A high murder rate coupled with a burst of crimes against officers have fueled an ongoing feud between law enforcement and city leaders in Baltimore. Over time, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has harped the hashtag #CityinCrisis in statements,  meanwhile criticizing the police commissioner for proposing what it considers unrealistic plans to lower crime.

“We’re not under siege. We have crime just like any other major city. This city is not under siege and we will not let the city be under siege,” Mayor Bernard Young told WMAR-2 News. “Like I said, we need community members to step up to help us decrease this crime.”

Young added that 99.9 percent of citizens in the city are law abiding, and the .1 percent is responsible for “keeping everybody held hostage.” He did not, however, specify the type of criminals that fall under the .1 percent.

According to the state’s data on Violent Crime & Property Crime by Municipality, Baltimore’s violent crime rate per capita was nearly 1,800 in 2016.

Its population was over 618,000 that year, and according to a 2017 report by the Abell Foundation of Baltimore, Maryland’s recidivism rate is 40 percent. The city is also infamous for having the highest murder rate per capita in the nation—51 as of 2016.

baltimore file photo
Abandoned buildings stand in a neighborhood with a high murder rate in Baltimore, Maryland on Feb. 3, 2018. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

This year’s newly appointed Police Commissioner Michael Harrison addressed the violence targeting officers.

“I think the thing that concerns all of us, is the number of times this has happened in a short period of time,” Harrison said at a press conference on Aug. 27. “But look, our officers are resilient … we’re running towards it instead of away from it.”

The police commissioner emphasized that the community must cooperate and assist the police, adding that communication is necessary to prevent crime.

Plan to Reduce Crime Criticized

When Harrison unveiled his plan to address the spike in crime rate going back to 2015, the president of the FOP called it an “outright fantasy.” President Sgt. Mike Mancuso said a press release in July that the plan overlooked the department’s limited resources.

He stated he “applauds the fact that Commissioner Harrison believes that he can make a difference,” but said the plan was “untenable.”

The FOP has announced on Aug. 29 it will take matters into its own hands.

“As the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department are losing faith in our elected and appointed leaders, the Baltimore City FOP is taking and unprecedented step of preparing a comprehensive strategy to make Baltimore a much safer place to live, work, and visit,” reads the statement. “Unlike the ‘current plan,’ our strategy will be based on the vast knowledge and experience of current and former members of the Baltimore Police Department.”

Violent crime has fallen dramatically in Baltimore since the early 90s, according to state records. In 1993, the rate of violent crimes per capita was over 3,000, but by 2016 the rate has fallen by nearly 40 percent.

There was, however, a sharp spike in murders in 2015.

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