Murders Spiking, Baltimore Mayor To Convene National Meeting On Violence


Violent crime has spiked in several large cities, including New York, Chicago. Houston, and Baltimore. The Major Cities Chiefs Association estimates that homicides in large cities are up 19 percent on average from last year. Criminologists and officials point to a range of familiar factors, including easy access to guns, drug battles and failure to address issues such as poverty and addiction. Some speculate about a so-called Freddie Gray or Ferguson effect, in which police are hesitant to do their jobs and criminals are emboldened to resist authority, says the Baltimore Sun. Criminologist Charis Kubrin of the University of California at Irvine said alleged police brutality could be causing ripple effects. “It’s legitimacy. If you don’t buy into the system, you don’t participate,” she said. “You want people to follow the rules — if you don’t believe in that system, you just aren’t going to do that. Right now, we are at a moment where the legitimacy of this system is being questioned in a major way.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will convene a meeting of mayors in Baltimore in October to talk about how to develop strategies for combating violence, addressing poverty and providing access to jobs and health care. “It’s not just the spike in violence that concerns the other mayors; it’s the volatility of the communities,” she said. “When Baltimore erupted in violent protest, they understand very clearly it could happen anywhere. The mayors around the country, in many of the big cities that are experiencing spikes in homicide, we’re all looking at each other for ways we can combat that issue.” “Why would cities be going in the same direction?” asked Peter Scharf, a professor of public health at Louisiana State University who studies homicides. “It’s hard, after 20 years of decline [in crime], to explain the upturn.” In New Orleans, Scharf pointed to factors such as police understaffing. He adds, “You have to look at prevention resources as well as police resources.”

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