Baltimore’s health commissioner, Peter Beilenson, predicted that if the city cracked down on the drug trade and got more addicts into treatment, homicides would increase, the Baltimore Sun says. “People tend to fight over shrinking revenue pies,” he said. As police have clamped down on the narcotics trade and cut into its profits, dealers have become more aggressive about collecting drug debts – leading to more violent confrontations, acting police Commissioner Leonard Hamm said.
Lt. Frederick Roussey, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said the theory made sense to him, even though he was not aware of any new police initiatives that would have triggered a recent homicide surge. Eli Silverman, professor of police studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said police crackdowns in New York and elsewhere have been known to exacerbate street violence. That can be the case when arrests raise fears that dealers will start “snitching” on each other and people are killed to keep them quiet. Beilenson believes drug treatment has played a role in stirring up violence, because it has caused demand for drugs to drop.