Fighting Over How to Fight Crime

Sep 25, 2013

Governor Martin O'Malley in a Baltimore Sun op-ed said the spike in city crime is due to fewer arrests being made. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in her response, said more arrests does not lead to lower crime.
Credit P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Governor Martin O’Malley continue war of words over the recent surge of violence in Baltimore. 

O’Malley told WBFF (Channel 45) last week that crime in the city has increased because of a decrease in the number of arrests. But he stopped short of calling for a return to the zero tolerance policies he advocated during his tenure as Baltimore’s mayor from 1999 until 2007.

Rawlings-Blake said Tuesday city residents have told her they “want to be partners with the police,” but O’Malley’s policies didn’t work.

“They feel that having a strategy that focused on quantity of arrests and not quality made it harder for police to do their job,” she said.

O’Malley struck back later in the day with an op-ed piece posted on The Baltimore Sun web site that claimed Baltimore had the second largest crime reduction among the country’s largest 20 cities while he was mayor. He characterized the arrests as “a higher level of enforcement effort by the Baltimore Police Department.”

“Despite the protests of the ideologues on the left — who see all increases in arrests, police response or enforcement as bad — discourtesy and excessive force complaints actually went down,” O’Malley wrote.

Not to be out done, Rawlings-Blake issued a response.

"Leaders across the city, the largest newspaper in the state and quite frankly the facts could not be clearer that more arrests do not lead to less crime,” she wrote. “Everyone seems to be clear on that except the Governor. We've gotten our crime rate down in Baltimore through targeted arrests, modernizing our police force and building bridges with local communities.”