Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Readers Respond

News Opinion Readers Respond

Reducing violent crime requires broad strategy

The recent editorial in The Sun ("Stopping the killing," March 24) argues the police should be focusing on guns and violent offenders. Clearly, there is value in having the police take as many guns off the street as possible, and strategies that engage hard-core violent offenders make a difference.

That is why Commissioner Anthony Batts and his command staff have made guns, gangs and violent offenders the key elements of a strategy with five areas of focus aimed at reducing the unacceptable level of homicides in the city. And three of the other focus areas — community engagement, actionable and timely intelligence and enhanced information exchange with state and federal partners — place police in a better position to deal with violent offenders.

The police are not abandoning a strategy that appears to have had some success, they are making it more effective.

Unfortunately, any suggestion that the police alone are responsible for homicides in Baltimore is shortsighted and ignores what we know about the nature of violent crime. The police can and have made important contributions to reducing violence, but long term reductions in Baltimore and throughout America require much more than taking guns off the street and arresting gang members and violent offenders. We should be asking what causes young men to lead a life of crime and end up killing each other.

We know that violence is concentrated in our high-poverty urban areas. In those areas, we know that the victims and perpetrators of violence are largely young, unemployed African-American men with lengthy arrest records who have not been successful in the educational system. We know that the majority of gang and drug-related homicides take place in large cities. We know that a substantial portion of violence takes place in domestic situations among family members. We also know that guns are used in the majority of homicides.

Violence is a community problem that requires both short-term police strategies and long-term solutions that take into account what we know. The police are just one part of the equation. We must bring all of the involved community resources together — from houses of worship, schools and social services to employers, community leaders and policymakers — to make the kind of substantive and sustainable changes that will have real impacts on crime and the people who commit them.

Darrel W. Stephens

The writer is executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Metrics of Baltimore's distress

    Metrics of Baltimore's distress

    Reading your paper lately has become quite depressing. Perhaps you could start publishing a front-page table showing the number of people shot to death each day, plus the number of heroin overdose deaths and the number of infants delivered in the city's hospitals.

  • Mayor has emboldened criminals

    Mayor has emboldened criminals

    Everyone is wondering why the increase in crime in Charm City since the riots ("Monday shooting victim is Baltimore's 36th May homicide," May 27). The reason for the violence is quite simple. It can be directly attributed to the Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's indecision in a time of crisis. It...

  • Baltimore police have been handcuffed

    Baltimore police have been handcuffed

    The astronomical increase in shootings and homicides in Baltimore is easy to explain. The criminal element is now in charge — no more police to hassle them and take their guns. They feel protected by the powers that be, and they are. They are shooting and killing each other because they are angry?...

  • Why aren't black leaders talking about personal responsibility?

    Why aren't black leaders talking about personal responsibility?

    Nothing will change until that happens.

  • Do black lives matter in Baltimore?

    Do black lives matter in Baltimore?

    "Black lives matter!" was the chant heard at recent demonstrations in cities and towns from Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore. Yes, they do matter, but apparently not so much to some other blacks. Only when a white police officer shoots or engages in other behavior that results in the death of a black...

  • Baltimore is reeling

    Baltimore is reeling

    Baltimore is on its knees. It is probably the only major American city where the prisoners ran the detention facility with the full cooperation of jail employees.

  • Decriminalize drugs and crime will drop

    Decriminalize drugs and crime will drop

    Officers deployed in a futile effort to clear corners of drug traffickers, officers tied up in court, court dockets bloated, jails overcrowded, discouraging recidivism — here we go again ("Baltimore prosecutor asked police to target area where Freddie Gray was arrested," June 9).

  • How to reduce gun violence

    How to reduce gun violence

    At a time when Baltimore could desperately use some good news when it comes to the prospects of reducing violence, research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests we may already have taken a key step toward preventing gun homicides — it just may take a few years for us...

Comments
Loading

73°