47 Homicides and Counting

“Judges and officers shall you appoint for yourselves, in all your gates…” [Deut. 16:18]

Here’s what’s happened in Baltimore since charges were announced against six police officers: 47 murders in the past thirty days — three on Monday alone. That’s 128 so far this year, compared to less than 100 at this time last year. 37 victims were black, and 9 were “unknown.” Only one was white. All but 9 were under 35. Six were within 1.5 miles of my house.

WBAL TV reported a 32% drop in arrests since charges were filed — and homicides are up nearly 40%.

The lack of arrests and the rise in homicides go hand in hand. Why aren’t the arrests happening? As they say, “it’s not rocket science.” And whether or not the average cop is ready for law school or astrophysics, he’s no dummy.

He went through the Police Academy, perhaps graduated with honors, and has risen through the ranks as a dedicated officer who follows orders. When the DA asks for “enhanced” policing of a streetcorner, he’s the one who has been ready to do that job. And in the past, were he to see a suspected drug dealer handing off a package to someone else on that corner, he would pursue and detain that suspect. And then, in the past, he would detain the perp, and, were he to be found carrying an illegal knife, the officer would cuff the perp and send him off in the paddy wagon, having done everything right, having acted with the best of intentions to make the city safer for law-abiding residents.

But now the cop knows that should that drug-dealing criminal be hurt, without the arresting officer being in any way present or involved — much less responsible — that officer may be charged with murder by the very same DA who asked them to watch that corner in the first place.

That’s exactly what happened to the three officers who arrested Freddie Gray, and that’s not what police officers sign up to do. So let’s not be all that surprised when police aren’t doing the sort of policing necessary to stop those murders from happening.

Is it any wonder that residents say that police are not as responsive, not as available? They are “behaving differently.” They feel “anxious about what’s going on.” They are “reluctant to respond aggressively.”

Because the cops now know that if they follow their guts, if they detain and frisk someone who looks suspicious, the DA will not only cut them loose, but charge them with a crime if things go wrong. The City of Baltimore will not back them up — never mind that the cops are usually right.

[UPDATE, June 15: since publishing this piece, both CNN and the Baltimore Sun have published articles with officers confirming that everything I described here is accurate. In particular, I want to share two pieces from the CNN interview with two officers.

The officers are afraid to do things, because you have a State’s Attorney right now that’s unpredictable. You don’t know what she’s going to do. When she came out with the statement, when the six officers were charged, she already convicted them in the public view. They have been tried and convicted in public opinion…

Q: Do you feel like those officers acted appropriately?

A: They’ve done nothing different than what we’ve always done as police officers on the street. Those type of arrests happen on a daily basis.

Q: … You would have done the same thing?

O1: Absolutely. It’s being compliant. If you are compliant, you will not have to be engaged by officers. Force has to be used with equal force. If you’re not compliant, you know, that is why police were able to restrain subjects that are non-compliant. The officers did nothing wrong.

It is no wonder that the “criminal element is feeling empowered.” Far better that the drug dealers know that they can be out there carrying a gun, and no cop will be willing to search them. Far better that they be gunning each other down, with open gunfights on the streets of Baltimore — because black lives matter, right?

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14 Responses

  1. Lacosta says:

    He who seweth death shall surely reap it…yet the leftists of Maryland ie everyone will blame republicans

  2. Y. Ben-David says:

    Rav Menken-
    If you are concerned about living 1.5 miles away from a free-fire zone in Baltimore, may I suggest you make aliyah to Israel? Here, it is safe to walk in the middle of the night in even the poorest Jewish towns and, probably, for that matter, in an Israeli Arab town or village.
    Things are NOT going to get better in the US. The US is in terminal decline. I just read that Federal spending on food stamps increased from $30 billion to $80 billion during the time Obama has been in office. The increasing racial tensions and riots are going to force even more welfare money to be poured into the poor black areas just in order to keep the peace, thus increasing the US Federal and state budgets deficits even more. But, ultimately, the problem isn’t money or finding some magic program that will supposedly create jobs in the decaying inner cities. The problem is VALUES.
    The black underclass in the US is due to the fact the something like 75% of black children are born to single mothers. They grow up without proper parental guidance, get into crime and drugs, do not receive a useful education and thus have a future without hope. Even if jobs were available, they would not be capable or interested in taking them.
    But what is worse, is the collapse of the old, conservative white blue collar middle class. A new underclass of whites is growing rapidly who suffer from the same problems as the black underclass. The rate of white children born to single mothers, which some decades ago was under 20% is now approaching 50%, so the problems will only grow. Read Charles Murray’s book “Coming Apart” where he uses sociological statistical analysis to show America is turning into two separate societies, with no contact between them….the black and white underclass vs. the educated, prosperous class which will have to live in gated communities in order to protect themselves while being forced to cough up more and more money for welfare handouts which will drag the economy down further and lead to long-term European-style economic stagnation.
    I am sorry to be the one to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no future for Jews in the United States. Israel’s economy, demography and social structure, not to mention its spiritual condition with a growth in interest in Judaism spiritual message among both the religious as well as a signficant part of the secular community is much healthier and things are looking up. The Jewish future is in Israel. European Jews are now coming to realize this, the American community will have to wake up to it as well.

    [I was just in Israel, have lived there before, and largely agree with you. There’s nothing like being on Holy ground. But that’s not because we need to give up on America. — YM]

  3. Bob Miller says:

    Forward into the past, namely the 1960s. Read Vincent Cannato’s book, “The Ungovernable City”, on the John Lindsay years in NYC, and imagine a city government that is 10 times dumber , that not merely panders to the destroyers but contains some. Residents of all races pay the price for this lunacy.

  4. Isaac Moses says:

    Why does your story suggest that the arresting officers were charged with murder, when they were charged with involuntary manslaughter?

    Why does your story not mention the central action that prompted that charge: loading Mr. Gray shackled, head-first, unsecured, into the back of a van and then driving him around like that?

    Why does your story assert that the arresting officers were not in any way involved in Mr. Gray’s being “hurt,” when they were the ones who put him in this unsafe position?

    Why does your story assert that Mr. Gray was carrying an “illegal knife,” when this fact is a matter of dispute?

    Why does your post present this story without any links to real news articles about the incident?

    “Distance yourself from a false matter; and do not kill a truly innocent person or one who has been declared innocent, for I will not vindicate a guilty person.” (Ex. 23:7)

  5. Yaakov Menken says:


    It is a distinction without a difference, for this purpose. Lt. Rice is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment. That’s quite sufficient to make an officer think twice before doing his job.

    Gray was loaded into the van in precise accordance with standard police practice — and according to what the other passenger said, they were not given any sort of rough ride and Gray seemed to be consciously banging his body against the container in order to raise a ruckus. Given this assertion, there is simply no way to prove that anyone other than Freddie Gray is responsible for his death. [Tens of] thousands of accused criminals have been transported in similar fashion without injury.

    The very fact that the knife is a “matter of dispute” is part of the problem. If four experienced officers all believed that this knife was illegal and sufficient grounds for Gray’s 21st arrest, and it was not, then the City of Baltimore has fundamental defects in its police academy training program — the liability for which cannot be laid at the feet of those four officers. The most elementary logic demands that we expect the rest of the BPD to now be walking around wondering what else they were not taught that they might be charged for — and that’s even if they were wrong, while every officer we have heard from indicates that they were not.

    I’m not sure what your point is with regards to the links I did or did not provide. As with most writers, I provide links to permit the reader to verify my sources for various points made.

    You did, however, point to an important link with regards to Depraved Heart Murder, the charge issued against Officer Goodson, the driver of the van. According to the other passenger and the evidence thus far, he drove the van in the normal fashion. This means he has transported hundreds if not thousands of individuals in precisely the same way. And the DA is charging him with a crime that not only says he caused Gray’s death, but that his conduct created a “very high risk to life” and that the officer, “conscious of such risk, acted with extreme disregard of the life-endangering consequences.”

    Gray had been arrested nearly two dozen times. Police knew him. Many criminals, in similar situations (as I have personally witnessed), complain of various medical ailments to delay their trip to central booking for two hours. It’s a delay tactic to take revenge on the arresting officer, by making him wait around in the ER while doctors treat the sudden onset of acute hypochondria. The idea that Goodson knew Gray was genuinely hurt, knew he was likely to die of his injuries, and “acted with extreme disregard,” is so vastly beyond what we know of his actions that this, along with the extreme haste with which charges were filed, gives the impression of a hypersensitive DA anxious to slake the bloodthirst of an angry mob, at the expense of the very people tasked with protecting us from the likes of those mobs. [In my article, I didn’t even address the orders BPD officers were given to stand aside and let the mobs riot.]

    Your quote is, of course, at least as apt with regards to officers innocent of wrongdoing, as it is to anyone else.

  6. Leah Adler says:

    I do agree that there’s a link between cops being fearful of being accused of crimes and a rise in crime.
    And I don’t think the officers were guilty of murder in Ferguson, Baltimore, or NYC (Eric Garner).
    However, there are too many stories of police harassing innocent black men for me to believe they are all false; there are tragic cases that are well-documented (Abner Louima, anyone? and how about the kid imprisoned without trial in Riker’s for THREE years who just committed suicide? does anyone REALLY believe a rich white preppy 16 year old would have been treated the way this poor, black teen was?)
    We need to have a reasoned discussion about policing in poor neighborhoods. Because black lives, like all lives, matter, and we need the police to do their jobs well and without fear, but we also need to find a way to make life better for poor people in bad neighborhoods.

  7. Michael says:

    Amazing what happens when police cut back on proactive enforcement.

    Who’d a thunk that criminals would realize that now that they”ll likely be able to get away with it, it’s open season?

    No matter that innocents will be killed, main thing is that police will have made their point, whether the goal is to extract more money or to get arrested cops off the hook.





    “Even though you have reasonable suspicion…nine out of 10 times, that officer is going to keep on driving,” one officer said.

    Why cops are allowed to do this nobody knows, but the two anonymous officers told CNN that the situation creates a boon for criminals.

    “The criminal element feels as though that we’re not going to run the risk of chasing them if they are armed with a gun, and they’re using this opportunity to settle old beefs, or scores, with people that they have conflict with,” the officer said. “I think the public really, really sees that they asked for a softer, less aggressive police department, and we have given them that, and now they are realizing that their way of thinking does not work.”

  8. Yaakov Menken says:

    Michael, there’s something obvious missing from your comment and all the left-wing sources you quoted: the fact that police are human beings.

    For all the complaints about cops leaving their humanity in the locker, there seems to be an irrational expectation for them to do just that.

    Here is a link you might have included, as it neatly punctures your illusion of a deliberate slowdown: http://www.mediaite.com/online/increased-violence-dejected-officers-spark-fear-of-baltimore-police-slowdown/ .

    According to the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Police Department is feeling “hesitant” in the wake of homicide charges against six officers in the death of Freddie Gray, leading to the phrase “police slowdown” getting thrown around.

    State Attorney Marilyn Mosby unexpectedly charged the officers with homicide following a Baltimore PD investigation two weeks ago. Since then officers “feel as though the state’s attorney will hang them out to dry.”

    “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,” a shift commander told the Sun. “I’ve never seen so many dejected faces.”

    They want to do their jobs, but they are afraid to do them too well.

    There’s no “work slowdown.” A cop is not required to do pro-active policing. And now they know they can be arrested for it. These are men and women with spouses and families, who now know they can be portrayed as racists and criminals on National TV, even if they themselves are black, for the crime of being good cops.

    Freddie Gray was a small-time drug dealer, arrested several times for drugs, hanging out on a corner known for drug deals — and that’s why the DA requested “enhanced policing” of that corner. Why did cops chase Gray? Because on a corner known for drug deals, Gray was observed hanging out and possibly concluding a deal, and when a cop made eye contact with him, he ran.

    And since Lt. Rice pursued him, trying to make sure a drug dealer didn’t get off the hook, he is accused of chasing a guy simply for “running while black,” for arresting him illegally, for “negligently” following standard procedure.

    Lt. Rice did exactly what you think cops ought to be doing, he got arrested for it, and now you’re wondering why cops aren’t doing that anymore. Oh, I can’t see the connection, oh it must be cops are deliberately slowing down, it must be they want to punish the city, get more money or get the arrested cops off the hook… will it take complete anarchy in Baltimore before you realize the obvious?

    The reason Baltimore Police are not doing aggressive police work is because the DA has made them scared to do aggressive police work. It could not possibly be any simpler than that.

  9. L. Oberstein says:

    As always, the answers to this question are not simple. To trace it backwards, there is a heroin epidemic in Baltimore that is driving most of the crime and most of the murders. Black men are unemployed and not qualified for the more sophisticated jobs that are available. They also live far from those jobs and lack the ability to reach them. In the past, when there was segregation and when the manufacturing and manual labor fields were more plentiful, black men could work in their part of town and support a wife and children, they mostly cannot today. Integration enabled more motivated blacks to move out but left the inner city as a dumping ground for those unable to leave. Children raised without a strong male presence and with extremely low expectations are mired in failure before the start.
    Millions have been invested in trying to reverse these trends but have not succeeded. The essence of the problem is the tragic state of the black male in American society and the fallout from that.
    Thus drugs are one of the only ways to move up the ladder and gangs are one of the only ways to have some identity and safety. The whole situation is tragic.
    The police are overwhelmed by the intensity of the drug epidemic and they often ove react . Now with cameras, they lack deniability . A lot has to change and there is no short or cheap solution.

  10. Nachum says:

    “There’s nothing like being on Holy ground. But that’s not because we need to give up on America.”

    Meir Kahane used to say, it would be great if people made aliyah because it’s a mitzvah to do so and live in Israel and they were motivated by only pure motives. But that’s not going to happen, so you can appeal to some less pure ones instead.

    Sometimes I think God works that way too.

  11. Eli Julian says:

    “There’s nothing like being on Holy ground. But that’s not because we need to give up on America.”

    I wonder how many Jews in our history in other countries were so fiercely devoted to not giving up on their Motherlands, despite very uncomfortable conditions, until things were too late. Giving up on America may not be the best motivation for Aliya, but the Aibeshter has unexpected messengers. My father’s a”h came in the form of a Bedouin Arab, Bilaam’s came in the form of a donkey, and for folks in Baltimore it may be in the form of dear Freddie Gray and cops scared to defend the street.

  12. Y. Ben-David says:

    In 1939, who in the Jewish world would have thought that within the next 20 years, virtually all the traditional Jewish communities that existed in Europe and the Middle East would have vanished almost completely? These communities were centuries old, some in the Middle East went back 2500 years.
    In the 1930’s, when the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe were squeezed between two monstrous antisemitic dictatorships (Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR) many Jews claimed everything was fine and there was no point in aiming for Eretz Israel. In fact many were saying that Eretz Israel was to be avoided at all costs because things there were not as the religious community would have wanted. However, G-d gives his signs, the writing was on the wall for anyone who wanted to see. Eretz Israe is our natural homeland, any place outside of it is Galut (Exile). I understand it is not easy to uproot one’s self and to go to another new place with a different language and different culture (although not that different for a religious Jew) and certainly having an entire community move is even more difficult, but people have to see what is going on. We now see how at universities with large Jewish student bodies, UCLA and Stanford (I received my degrees at UCLA which I believe was 1/4 Jewish at the time) Jews are questioned about “dual loyalty”, and this week a liberal Jewish senator, Bernie Sanders, who is no doubt in the forefront of those sympathizing with the Palestinians, was also confronted with the same question. I don’t see things getting any better. The Golden Age of American Jewry is coming to a close, and the time is NOW to start drawing appropriate conclusions.

  13. Yaakov Menken says:

    This is a relatively typical example of derailing a conversation and taking it off in a new direction, in order to “prove” whatever point it is the commenter wishes to make. The violence in Baltimore is not directed at Jews; in fact, none of the murders (or shootings, to the best of my knowledge) occurred north of Northern Parkway, the major thoroughfare cutting across the city and, at least in the northwest, serving as the “tracks” one lives on the “right” or “wrong” side of. The situation is completely irrelevant to any conversation about living in Eretz Yisroel, and, unlike what is going on in Europe, is giving precisely no one an incentive to move.

    Like it or not, we are still in Galus, even in the Holy Land. And during our time in Galus, our responsibility is to Hashem, His Torah, and His Mitzvos, and not to artificially place one Mitzvah ahead of the others. We can appreciate what it means to be able to so easily go to Eretz Yisrael, while still appreciating the Medinah Shel Chesed that is the USA — and recognizing that many Jews have very legitimate reasons not to live in E”Y at the present time.

    Let’s please get off the tangent. More to the point, two officers on CNN verified everything I said in my post.

  14. Yaakov Menken says:

    And this, tweeted by the Baltimore Sun this morning. “They’re not afraid of dying. They’re afraid of going to jail.”

    You heard it here first.

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