Unexpectedly: Murder Rate Skyrockets in Baltimore

sharpton_baltimore_mayor_5-3-15-1 NBC’s Al Sharpton shakes hands with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as she prepares to speak at a summit to address issues surrounding the death of Freddie Gray and its aftermath at New Shiloh Baptist Church on April 30 in Baltimore. Note the “No Justice, No Peace” slogan behind them. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The slaughter in Baltimore continues apace.  So much so, in fact, that people reading the Baltimore Sun each morning check the latest homicide totals as they would the Orioles’ box score.  “Did you see the O’s dropped another one to Houston?” someone might ask a friend.  “Yeah,” comes the reply, “and two guys got dropped over at Lafayette and Monroe.”

The month of May closed with 43 homicides in Baltimore, the highest monthly total since 45 people were killed in August 1972, a time when the city had 200,000 more residents.  And it took less than a half-hour before the city recorded its first homicide victim in June.  Another would fall less than two hours later.  As of this writing, 119 people have been killed in Baltimore this year, and the number will surely be higher by the time you read this.

As grim as these numbers are, more discouraging still is the reaction to them displayed by those whose job it is to do something about the problem.  The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday on Police Commissioner Anthony Batts’s appearance at a city council Public Safety Committee meeting, where he attempted to place at least some blame for the sudden outbreak in violence on a new deployment system in which officers work four 10-hour days each week rather than five 8-hour days as before.  The new system was implemented in January.   “We had some hiccups at the midnight shift,” Batts said, “when we should have had more officers out there.”