As a Baltimore councilman, Martin O’Malley railed against police failures to combat a brazen drug trade that was fueling more than 300 homicides annually, says the Baltimore Sun. When he became mayor in 1999, he launched a controversial, zero-tolerance approach to drug corners, revamped the Police Department’s inner workings and pledged that murders would be reduced to 175 a year.
O’Malley administration officials say their efforts have helped lead to significant reductions in violence. Still, the deadly drug trade continues to buttress Baltimore’s dubious standing as one of the most murderous U.S. cities. Annual murders stayed below 300 during O’Malley’s tenure, falling as low as 253 in 2002. But the number of homicides never came close to his goal of 175 – a level not seen since the late 1970s. O’Malley, the Democratic candidate for governor, admits that more work remains to be done on crime. “We’ve seen a considerable reduction in drug dealing and drug marketing in that whole community,” said City Council member Pat Clarke. “We have a couple troubled areas, but nothing like the blatant drug dealing that we had several years ago.”