Following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in Baltimore on April 27, violence in the city has spiked to levels not seen in 43 years. May was a bad month with 42 homicides, but July was even worse. Forty-five people were murdered that month—tying the previous record set in August 1972. That sounds bad enough, but Baltimore now has 275,000 fewer residents since then. One of those murdered was local rapper Donte Dixon known as G-Rock who was close to his first record deal.
Even Baltimore police detectives are not immune to the violence. Detective Roderick Mitter described his devastation over the shooting death of his 18-year old nephew Jermaine Mitter to the Baltimore Sun.
Detectives are busy trying to solve these murders and face trying times, since many people are reluctant to cooperate with the police. Authorities attribute the increase in homicides in Baltimore to a number of factors. Police may be less likely to make arrests for fear of being charged with excessive force. However, the theft of prescription drugs during the riots is thought to be a major factor.
The streets of Baltimore have been flooded with narcotics, since gangs targeted 27 pharmacies and two methadone clinics during the looting and stole at least 175,000 doses of prescription drugs. In addition to the violence caused by people taking narcotics, Baltimore is seeing an increased number of turf wars over the drugs. Such battles are inherently violent.
City leaders in Baltimore are doing their best to address the spike in violent crime in the city. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake replaced the Police Commissioner with interim Commissioner Kevin Davis. She also began a series of public safety forums.
Unfortunately, the situation in Baltimore is not unique, as St. Louis is also seeing extraordinarily high levels of homicides in recent months as well.