BALTIMORE, MD – The dynamics of a seesaw are not hard to figure out: when one side goes down, the other side goes up.
It is not a difficult concept, and it seems to be one playing out in Baltimore after the death last month of Freddie Gray, injured while in police custody.
Gray’s death not only touched off riots, but it also may have caused Baltimore cops to cut down on arrests, which some people believe has led to an increase in violent crimes.
Baltimore police data show a 40-percent drop in arrests since Gray’s death on April 19 when compared to the same periods over the last two years.
Those numbers add to speculation that Baltimore cops are backing off instead of cracking down because of uncertainty over how the community will react.
"I think it's a time of uncertainty for us as a police organization, as police officers as a whole,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told reporters.
Batts also conceded the diFficulty in working to improve relations between his officers and the people of the western district where Freddie Gray lived.
"When officers pull up to respond to a call they have 30 to 50 people surrounding them at any given point of time. You have many citizens with hand-held cameras that they are sticking in the face of the officers about an inch off the officer’s face. In addition, it makes it very difficult for us to follow-up on violence that takes place there. if you have 50 to 60 people, it makes it difficult to get an eye-witness it makes it difficult to get information that is out there."
Three people died and at least 16 others were wounded in shootings around Baltimore just on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
But the western district has seen 22 murders and 51 shootings since the first of the year, the most in the city. And those 22 murders are one more than in all of last year.
The cops and the community need to figure out how to take control of violent crime before violent crime takes control of them.