In a year defined by the pandemic, Baltimore experienced steep drops in most crime categories, amid a plunging number of arrests and increases in pretrial and post-conviction detention releases, reports the Baltimore Sun. Yet the high rate of killings and shootings continued. Are 30 percent drops in categories such as robberies and property crimes a mirage, driven by lack of opportunities with more people indoors and working from home? Does the effort to eliminate most arrests for lower-level offenses show that the city can continue that policy without an increase in crime? Some local officials are heartened to see that fewer arrests have not produced a crime increase. Some neighborhood leaders expressed frustration with the level of crime and said they wanted more enforcement.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison doesn’t see the crime reduction as a reason to celebrate, and is not looking to take credit for the almost 20 percent drop in reported violent crime. Baltimore still eclipsed 300 homicides for the sixth year in a row and recorded more than 1,000 shootings. Baltimore has recorded 333 homicides this year. “The decreases are attributed to fewer people being out, which means fewer opportunities and chances for victimization,” Harrison said. Noting that the number of guns recovered by police is up nine percent, he said, “The bad actors who commit crime are still there, because the level of shootings and murders remain notoriously high.” Police are on track to arrest 15,000 people. A zero-tolerance strategy 15 years ago led to 100,000 arrests. Even with all those arrests, the city averaged 275 murders a year between 2003 and 2007. Statistics show that locking up people for drugs and minor crimes doesn’t make the streets safer, said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “We stopped prosecuting marijuana for the past two years. Has that been an attributable factor in the homicide rate? Absolutely not,” she said.