As the number of shootings and homicides has surged in Baltimore, some police officers say they feel hesitant on the job under intense public scrutiny and in the wake of criminal charges against six officers in the Freddie Gray case, reports the Baltimore Sun. State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s decision to charge the officers has stoked strong opinions across the U.S., including praise from whose who want accountability, and and derision from some legal experts. Perhaps the most jarring effect has been on the Baltimore Police Department. “In 29 years, I’ve gone through some bad times, but I’ve never seen it this bad,” said Lt. Kenneth Butler, president of the Vanguard Justice Society, a group for black Baltimore police officers. Officers “feel as though the state’s attorney will hang them out to dry.”
Several officers said they are concerned crime could spike as officers are hesitant to do their jobs, and criminals sense opportunity. Butler, a shift commander, said his officers are expressing reluctance to go after crime. “I’m hearing it from guys who were go-getters, who would go out here and get the guns and the bad guys and drugs. They’re hands-off now,” Butler said. “I’ve never seen so many dejected faces. Policing, as we once knew it, has changed.” Lt. Victor Gearhart, a 33-year veteran, said residents with complaints about police “are going to get the police force they want, and God help them.” The city has seen 40 shootings since April 28, the day after the city’s most intense day of rioting, including 10 on Thursday alone. There have been 15 homicides in that span, bringing the year’s total to 82, 20 more than at the same time last year.