Baltimore has about 2,600 gang members and 170 criminal street gangs, says a report from the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee quoted by the Baltimore Examiner. “The same areas that have clusters of gang members are the same areas that have clusters of shootings and homicides,” said James Green, the Baltimore Police Department's director of special projects. To combat the problem, the panel calls for increased opportunities and social interventions for youth; increased penalties for gang members who possess and use firearms; standardized reporting of gang members across law enforcement; better relations between the police and the community; and improved re-entry services for incarcerated people.
Arianne Spaccarelli, a policy analyst for the Baltimore City Health Department, said officials will stress “disciplinarian life skills” to potential gang members. One commission member believes the gang problem is not so bad as it's made out to be. Frank Conaway, clerk of the Baltimore City Circuit Court, also took issue with the report's findings that 94.2 percent of known gang members are black. “It's almost unbelievable,” he said. “There are no other gangs in the city other than African-Americans? How do you really know who's a member in a gang, anyway? Who's going to get arrested and say, ‘Well, I belong to a gang?’ ”