Friday, June 12, 2015

55 Murders since May 1 in Baltimore

West Baltimore’s Police Presence Drops, and Murders Soar

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr, NYT,
JUNE 12, 2015

BALTIMORE — From the steps of her New Bethlehem Baptist Church, the Rev. Lisa Weah looked down the block to the open-air drug market outside the bodega on the corner a few hundred feet away.

The traffic there had been slowing until the chaos that followed the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, after he was injured in police custody. Now it is back full-bore, and the police are often nowhere to be seen.

A month and a half after six officers were charged in Mr. Gray’s death, policing has dwindled in some of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods, and murders have risen to levels not seen in four decades. The totals include a 29-year-old man fatally shot on this drug corner last month. Police union officials say that officers are still coming to work, but that some feel a newfound reluctance and are stepping back, questioning whether they will be prosecuted for actions they take on the job.

Around the nation, communities and police departments are struggling to adapt to an era of heightened scrutiny, when every stop can be recorded on a cellphone. But residents, clergy members and neighborhood leaders say the past six weeks have made another reality clear: that as much as some officers regularly humiliated and infuriated many who live here, angering gang members and solid citizens alike, the solution has to be better policing, not a diminished police presence.

(More here.)

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