Crime Reduction in Baltimore


The start of 2016 is a good opportunity to speculate about where our city is heading, particularly by evaluating the past calendar year.  Too little attention has been given to Baltimore’s ranking: in August, it was announced that we went from fifth murder capital of the U.S. to second place.

This ranking should be of concern to entire fifth district, despite generally not seeing homicides in its neighborhoods. It means police and law enforcement are so tied up with murders elsewhere in the city that they cannot pay proper attention to the break-ins, car thefts, muggings, and other lower level criminal activity in our neighborhoods. And crime usually spills over, so the violence doesn’t remain contained in any specific areas, as we saw with the recent murder of a young adult on Pinkney Road.

As a member of Shomrim’s advisory council, I have personally seen how hardworking the police are and the daunting challenges they face. Just as we appreciate the vast number of local residents who donate their time to NWCP and Shomrim, we also must have great appreciation to the police for their collaboration with these organizations, despite their limited manpower and resources.

This is why I am greatly concerned by the whisper campaign that has been initiated. After I announced my candidacy for City Council of Baltimore, I was approached by people from outside the Orthodox community, who were very critical of our neighborhood patrol groups based on falsehoods they had heard about the organization. Despite the numerous awards and citations NWCP & Shomrim have received for literally saving lives, helping prosecute criminals, and keeping our streets safer, I was greatly disappointed to learn that an effort has been undertaken to disparage the organizations in an attempt to keep an Orthodox Jew off the Baltimore City Council.

One of the key reasons I decided to run for City Council is because I know that we need solutions to the increasing crime throughout Baltimore, including the Jewish neighborhoods. Here’s just one example of something we needed to do, and I am proud to have been influential in helping to make it happen.

The city’s crime lab has been operating at 1970s level. Despite the changing dynamics of the city and the increase in crime, until recently, the crime lab’s manpower had not grown in 40 years and did not reflect the needs of the city. Why is this so problematic?

How many break-ins have occurred in your neighborhood in the past where the police sent a crew to test for fingerprints? Few, if any. Anecdotally, we know that most of the local property crimes are committed by the same group of bandits. But in the order of priority for the limited police and crime lab personnel, property crime ranks low in contrast with the homicides that are occurring elsewhere in the city. Without the crime labs operating in proper capacity, we cannot record the slew of criminal activities conducted almost nightly by a few individuals. So if and when they are finally arrested, the perpetrators will get a slap on the wrist because their twentieth crime will be legally considered as their first. And within hours, they will be back on the streets, targeting our homes and cars again.

In recent meetings with the police, I lobbied the mayor for an upgrade of the crime lab, including more staff and DNA experts. After learning how antiquated our crime labs were, I met with politicians and spoke to the mayor about it. I urged her to reallocate city funds for this vital need. I had statistics and personal stories of how this was so urgent. Baltimore City residents pay the highest property taxes in the state, and we are one of a few jurisdictions that pay the Rain Tax (a tax on the rain that falls on our roofs and driveways), and yet local families cannot protect their own properties. 

I am very excited to report that very recently, following my discussion with her on this issue, the mayor announced that it was a good idea and she is expanding the crime lab with ten more staffers.

I believe protecting our families – in their homes and on our city streets – should have utmost priority. I have seen firsthand how effective we can be if we are persistent in presenting solid, bold solutions. Upgrading the crime lab of Baltimore City to 2016 standards was one idea I brought forward to ensure the protection of our families, businesses and neighborhoods. I know that with new leadership in the city coupled with bold crime-fighting ideas, we can work together, partnering with the police and community leaders, to be even more effective in reducing crime in 2016.

By authority of Vote Schleifer, Hillel Soclof, Treasurer.

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