Welcome to our live Crime in Baltimore chat. We're still accepting questions for Justin Fenton and Justin George. Let's get started now...
Hi, thanks for the question. It's difficult to say, of course. The police commissioner points to a rise in gang activity. Internally, officers tell me the shift away from the Violent Crimes Impact section - a plainclothes unit that was a signature of the Bealefeld years - has had a negative effect
That's a difficult question, Paul. I would say the economic woes certainly have something to do with it but it's hard to argue that things aren't looking better in that aspect in Baltimore than previous years. The Census showed the city's population going up for the first time in years. There is growth in the Biomedical parts of the city. But the unemployment rate is around 10 percent in the city vs. 7 or so for the state. Double digits is a bad sign.
An update: Two of last night's shooting victims have died, a third is in grave condition. Baltimore has started off 2014 with 8 shootings, four of them fatal
It was high this year, indeed - 95 percent of homicide victims were black, which is the highest figure for the data I have going back 10 years. It has hovered around 87 to 92 - 95 is high. I dont have drill-down data from other cities, but nationally, 50.5 percent of homicide victims were black, according to the FBI
Well, this is a challenge in talking about crime. It is down. In fact, in the city, it's down from the time Gov. O'Malley was mayor (a drop that started after he left). So there's a delicate balance of trying to underscore where we're at, while not making it sound like we're content or excited about it. We have to be able to recognize real declines while keeping in perspective that, as far as Baltimore goes, its still too high
All I can say to the pot question is -- Colorado and Washington will prove as good test cases, though Mr. Fenton points out there isn't much crime there compared to here.
I should note that stats show violent crime declined significantly under O'Malley's tenure as mayor, even if the homicide and shooting rate did not. That's been a topic of much debate, but those are the stats
The Bloods and subsets of the Bloods were definitely talked about the most a few years ago. The BGF seems to have almost come out of nowhere, popping up for the first time around 2009 as a prison-gang trying to reach out into the streets, and now they seem to be connected to almost every high-profile case. While the commissioner repeatedly says the gang is tied to much of the violence (one estimate was 90 percent), we have not seen that in terms of charging documents and closed cases. Police said only 29 of the 235 victims were gang members in 2013.
I see Twitter as providing insight into the reporting process. I don't tweet everything I'm doing, particularly if its sensitive or particularly competitive, but I want to show people what I'm doing, and the crazy amount of news we're sifting through and trying to make sense of. Hopefully, that translates into people wanting to read the more complete stories.
As for the Spectator, he fancies himself an "agitator" and I think he certainly lives up to that. But he's also providing a unique perspective, and on the occasions when he does get out on the streets, he's helping to fill
I just went over this with police yesterday - there were five bodies recovered from the harbor last year, in addition to the two people who drowned off Port Covington. I'm working on a story or blog post, but the common thread seemed to be alcohol. None of the victims had signs of trauma, though not all of the cases have been closed by police, either. But I think there's a misconception that the bodies that turn up are homicide victims that have been dumped - I can only recall one such case (a man found in the Patapsco a few years ago) out of many bodies that have turned up in the waters...
Well, Guglielmi was a leftover from the previous regime and I think it was a matter of time before there was a change. The comment was not out of step with what the police commissioner has said and certainly continues to say, but it was definitely the wrong time - that was one of the worst weekends in recent memory and maybe it was too "in the moment."
There was a time not too long ago that our reporters worked out of police headquarters, had access to personnel orders, sat in on trial board hearings, flipped through police reports at precincts. That has obviously changed drastically, not just here and not in recent years. But I'd say the access has gone down a bit more under this chief, not the other way. They almost stopped tweeting shootings!
The murder clearance rate here was once regularly in the 70 percent range. But, believe it or not, FBI data show that the national clearance rate for cities our size is 50.9 percent - which means Baltimore is exactly average when it comes to closing murders. A former commander of the homicide unit said fewer people want to talk, and the number of "dunkers" (what they call easy-to-close cases) has declined over the years.
A variety of factors can move that homicide rate, so it's tough to hang it on the chief or the police at all. But I think there are many who share your observation.
I saw that this morning - I think it's interesting to see someone prominent offer another viewpoint. Locally, Baltimore County Chief Johnson is one of the major advocates on the national level for gun control, but this shows that it's not a uniform opinion among police
I think I'll hold out for better than 3 days.
Thank you all for being part of the chat. Really appreciate the readers.
With that, that's it for us. Thanks for chatting and reading.
Thank you for taking part in this and thanks for reading the Sun. Feel free to hit me up on twitter @justingeorge
Thanks to everyone for the questions and for following along with our chat. And thanks to Justin & Justin for their time. We'll do this again soon.