President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday addressing the nation on police reforms amid widespread social unrest across many large metropolitan areas. As the president signed the order at the White House Rose Garden surrounded by law enforcement officers, he pointed out that a majority of homicides last year in Baltimore City went unsolved.
"In many cases, local law enforcement is underfunded understaffed, and under support," the president said. "Forty-seven percent of all murders in Chicago and 68% of all murders in Baltimore went without arrests last year."
Current homicides trends in Baltimore City (data pulled from The Baltimore Sun) suggest 300 deaths could be seen for the fifth year in a row. With the city's collapsing population, now around the 600k - on a per capita basis, the area is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the nation.
Homicides spiked across the metro area post-2015 riots. Since then, the city has never been the same, as residents continue to flee the downtown district in droves (similar to the "white flight" of the 1960s) - collapsing the total population to century lows as the inner city implodes. Let's be frank, the implosion of the city is due to widespread wealth, health, and education inequalities of the African American community, some of the most severe in the nation. If not properly addressed, the city will dive further into chaos.
When it comes to law and order, there is none of it on the east and west parts of the city. Drug gangs govern entire neighborhoods, and police tend to keep their distance as lawlessness thrives. Respect for police and government officials is at a low among many residents - the local economy has crashed, unemployment is high - the opioid crisis continues to rage - signaling there has been very little progress made in lifting these folks out of poverty who've been stuck in a multi-decade depression.
In an attempt to reform the police and drive better relations with communities, the president's order is shaped by three key components: "credentialing and certifying police departments, boosting information-sharing to better track officers with excessive use-of-force complaints and creating services for addressing mental health, drug addiction, and homelessness. But it doesn't make federal funding conditional to those reforms, but instead potentially prioritizes some grants for departments that meet all those guidelines," CBS News reported.
"Reducing crime and raising standards are not opposite goals," the president said.
When it comes to the numbers, WJZ Baltimore said the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) confirmed the president's statistic that 68% of all murders in the area went unsolved in 2019.
"Baltimore City police confirmed the president's statistic Tuesday saying they had a 31% homicide clearance rate, or rate of closing cases, in 2019.
"A spokesperson said since Commissioner Michael Harrison arrived in 2019, the department has re-assessed assets and invested into the homicide unit, including 14 new investigators.
"Now, the department is focusing on staffing and reduction in caseloads for homicide.
"Additionally, the department is investing into accountability tools being put into place and the unit is building on Consent Decree policies and training.
"So far this year, the clearance rate is higher at 45%." - WJZ Baltimore
"The Baltimore Police Department recognizes the need to improve our Homicide clearance rate and continues to make the necessary changes to be more effective and efficient. There have been several important improvements made, which include not only increasing staffing levels and developing training but implementing necessary accountability measures to improve investigations. Improving the clearance rate involves collaboration with the community and other local, state, and federal partners, which the Baltimore Police Department is committed to continuing doing and expanding on," BPD told WJZ.
"Overall, BPD recognizes the need for continuous improvement and is up for the challenge of changing this narrative. Our department embraces reforms because the residents of our city deserve a world-class police force that inspires trust, ensures the safety and protects the constitutional rights of the people we serve. Rebuilding trust is critical to a safer Baltimore."
At a time when BPD needs all the assistance - City Council has voted to defund the police department by about $22 million and redirect the funding to public services.
"This round of cuts that came with these hearings have demonstrated the will of the people," Commissioner Michael Harrison said. "We are really kind of a basic functioning police department. There are impacts. Some of them could be negative."
Defunding BPD as the city implodes could lead to decreased patrols and out of control violent crime. With that being said, it's probably best to avoid the area as lawlessness continues.