This past legislative session, I urged my Senate colleagues to reject the numerous anti-police bills pending in the General Assembly. I argued that these bills were counter-productive and, if passed, would seriously harm public safety by driving officers from the force and discouraging the rest from actively policing the community.
In a sincere effort to avoid such outcomes, I worked long hours with my Senate colleagues to negotiate a series of bi-partisan, compromise bills that would have brought reasonable reforms without damaging public safety. Unfortunately, those bi-partisan compromises in the Senate were flatly rejected by the progressive leadership in the House and the compromise bills were thrown in the trash. The bills returned by the House and passed by the Senate on a party line vote are politically motivated and anti-police, intended solely to capture the substantial political funding offered by the national progressive movements. In the months since the bills were passed, it is readily apparent that the laws are doing serious damage to public safety in Baltimore and beyond. The Baltimore Police force has declined by 10% and a sharp increase in violent crime in a city already suffering record levels of violence is rocking Baltimore City and expanding into the surrounding counties.
Here is a brief sample of local news reports this week on the growing violence:
- According to police statistics, the current 160 homicides so far represent a 6 percent increase from this time last year. Non-fatal shootings have increased by 18 percent year-to-date. Eight people were shot and two killed over Father’s Day weekend in Baltimore.
- “It’s just gotten so bad. You got to be scared to walk up and down the street, especially in the evening. Now, it’s broad daylight, too,” a Southwest Baltimore resident who did not want to be identified said Monday. “[Police] make their presence well-known, so it’s not like they are not here. I see police officers on every corner just about every night.
- Felicia Carter, who is originally from North Carolina, said she sees this going on in a lot of areas. She has lived in Northwest Baltimore for 30 years. “Since I’ve been here, I’m like I need to pack and go back home,” said Carter.
President Biden has announced that he opposes efforts to “defund the police.” But that rhetoric means little to cities like Baltimore where the big problem with police retention is not a lack of funding but laws that communicate quite clearly to law enforcement officers that the political leaders do not have their backs, that political leaders will go after police at every opportunity to appease demands by radical political activists, and that police earn no respect for risking their lives.
Rather than their typical progressive response of simply throwing money at every challenge, the progressives need to account for the new anti-police laws that criminalize police officers who make innocent mistakes in the heat of the action, subject officers and local governments to extreme financial penalties for mere negligent conduct, rob police officers of basic dignities and legal rights afforded to all other government employees, and cobble police with unnecessary restraints on policing.
The most revealing outcome of President Biden’s violence summit at the White House this week, attended by Baltimore’s Mayor, is the lack of any response by President Biden or the progressive leaders in Maryland or Baltimore City to the fundamental problem raised by Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison who said that Baltimore has “a criminal justice system that either has no consequences or these individuals fear no consequences or believe there are none.”
We will know that progressive mean business when they dare to renounce their support for state laws that are increasingly pro-criminal and anti-victim and condemn Baltimore’s state’s attorney for dereliction of her prosecutorial duties.
Thank you and, as always, I look forward to receiving your thoughts and comments.