Since the Freddie Gray incident, Baltimore’s murder and criminal violence rate has climbed to record-setting levels, with over a hundred shooting deaths in the city this year. The Charm City’s police reported that 28 people were shot, and 9 of them killed, over the Memorial Day weekend alone.
Speaking to CNN anonymously, a Baltimore police officer attributed the spike to police officers in his city no longer doing their job proactively. This wasn’t a slowdown, he said, just low-risk policing, and the criminals are taking full advantage.
This seems extremely likely, and I would expect that the same phenomenon will take hold in other city police forces unless national leadership takes steps to…oh, what am I talking about? That’s not going to happen.
President Obama and Eric Holder’s racialized Justice Department planted the seeds of this with their irresponsible response to the Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown shootings, and those responses were modeled by a biased, unethical and politically ambitious state’s attorney in the Freddie Gray death. The war on police officers by African-American activists, Democrats and the Left was bound to have the result we are now seeing in Baltimore. Either the opportunistic pols, pundits and race-baiters wanted this, or they were too focused on gaining a political edge to foresee it. Now they are reaping what they have sown, and we should not allow them to deny accountability.
Why would any police officer engage in proactive policing when an unexpected turn of events, a resisting suspect or a single mistake in judgment under pressure will trigger protests and prejudging by mobs and the media, resulting in show trials ordered by cowardly prosecutors regardless of the evidence? It is a no-win situation for police, with personally, financially and professionally catastrophic consequences to an individual cop who ends up in the maw of one of these public lynchings. I expect that the next shoe in the process of dropping will be a sharp reduction in police recruits, except of the type that departments use at their peril.
There is no reason for any sane or intelligent individual to subject themselves to working conditions like this, where a disproportionate number of criminals and suspects he or she is going to encounter are African American, and any negative consequences to one of them under ambiguous circumstances will be attributed to racism, bias, homicidal tendencies or hate. We are going to end up with police forces made up entirely of insane or stupid cops.
CNN’s Carol Costello interviewed an African American community activist from Baltimore and asked the question I just did. His answer was a defiant “Because it’s their job!” Wrong. The job was not accepted with the risk of being thrown to the dogs by the Justice Department, state and local officials as an agreed-upon condition of employment. Police must be able to assume, as they once could, that the city, state and national leadership will support them and be reasonable regarding the occasional tragedies that the nature of the job will inevitably entail. Now they clearly cannot.
Had the pendulum swung too far to giving police the benefit of the doubt in every instance? Absolutely. Where the pendulum is swinging now, however, will result in urban chaos. That chaos, ironically, will fall most heavily on African American. Continue reading →