For over a decade, Baltimore has been cutting and reducing the police force that has been described as “a fateful experiment” by the City Journal.
“A decade ago, Baltimoreans became lab rats in a fateful experiment: their elected officials decided to treat the city’s long-running crime problem with many fewer cops. In effect, Baltimore began to defund its police and engage in de-policing long before those terms gained popular currency,” reported the City Journal this past week. “This experiment has been an abject failure. Since 2011, nearly 3,000 Baltimoreans have been murdered—one of every 200 city residents over that period. The annual homicide rate has climbed from 31 per 100,000 residents to 56—ten times the national rate. And 93 percent of the homicide victims of known race over this period were black.”
The City Journal went on to report that these numbers do not seem to have changed the city’s plans about what it intends to do about law enforcement. Brandon Scott, the newly elected Mayor of Baltimore, has made the promise to initiate a five-year plan that would reduce the police budget even further. Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney, also released a statement that the city would no longer prosecute low-level crimes such as prostitution, minor traffic violations, or drug possession, as reported by The Daily Wire. This is following an experimental year of not prosecuting the aforementioned crimes as a means to keep COVID-19 from being spread into the prison system.
The crime rates in Baltimore dropped as the plan was fully rolled out at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It is not clear to what extent these changes were due to people staying home and businesses being closed for the pandemic. At a press conference this past March, Mosby stated that the past twelve months, after the police halted the prosecution of low-level offenses, Violent crimes seemed to drop by around 20% and property crime seemed to go down by 36%. However, the homicide rate of the city remained steady. Mosby also stated that researchers at Johns Hopkins University discovered that these reductions in police calls regarding drugs and prostitution.
According to the City Journal, Baltimore’s 10-year long experiment into defunding and reducing the police force has not worked at all, partly due to the complete misapplication of the Broken Windows theory. The theory states that small crimes might lead to worse crimes, so minor offenses “that made residents feel unsafe or hinted at acceptance of violence were addressed in order to improve quality of life, strengthen communities, and prevent serious crime,” the news source reported.
However, the Baltimore PD flocked to a more “zero tolerance” policy which led to excessive and improperly focussed policing.
A veteran of the police force stated that a true use of the Broken Windows policy would start with collaboration between the police and the community.
“You go to a community—before we come in, [we should ask], ‘What are the main things you all can’t stand?’ Everybody playing music at 11:30 at night, kids sitting on the corner, the prostitutes using the little park over there to work their trade. Now, ‘What don’t you care about?’ See the old guys sitting down at the corner playing cards every night? They could stay there all they want. . . . Then the police come in and do what the neighborhood wants. You just don’t go out and lock everybody up,” the vet explained, seeming to agree that instead of following the policy, “we went overboard.”