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A seventeen-year old boy was killed around 10 pm on New Year's Eve bringing Baltimore's homicide count to 309 in 2018.

Three separate articles published on March 13 show, unfortunately, that Baltimore has no realistic plan to reduce the number of murders and other violence. The first article, on your front page, discusses the continuing controversy about Johns Hopkins University having its own armed police force. It had a photograph of Rep. Elijah Cummings testifying at the Maryland House of Delegates in favor of the bill creating this private police force and quotes him as saying "I come to beg you to do something. I'm begging you." The second, on page 4, talks about the "predictive policing" models for which the Baltimore Police Department is paying a consulting firm $635,000 per year to attempt to predict where and when violent crime will take place.

The third article, also on page 4, tells us about the sentencing of a person to 24 years in prison for attempting to distribute a minimum of 12 kilograms of fentanyl, an amount which could "kill the population of Maryland." These three articles are revealing about the sad state of affairs in Baltimore.

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First, Mr. Cummings is definitely an "old school" politician who still thinks the high murder rate in Baltimore will be reduced by an extra 100 police officers who will patrol Hopkins' campuses, not exactly hotbeds of crime (“Baltimore legislative delegation approves Hopkins police force after Cummings ‘begs’ for help to stop killings,” March 13). Although the killing of his nephew in Norfolk, Va. near Old Dominion University is a tragedy, neither you nor he states that the murder and ODU were connected in any way. His story is therefore probably irrelevant for consideration by the state legislature. The second story does not contain any information that the consulting firm's models have had any positive effects on the crime rate and therefore we can make no determination that the effort is worth $635,000 per year. And the third story twice states that 12 kg of fentanyl can kill 6 million people because a fatal dose is only 2 milligrams. I seriously doubt the convicted person had that intent and this calculation appears to have come from the the U.S. Department of Justice, not a place known for independent, rational thought.

Finally, let me state that if Baltimore and Maryland ever become serious about reducing the murder and violence rates, they need to convince the U.S. Congress to end the "War on Drugs" and eliminate the financial incentives involved with being in the illegal drug trade. More police won't do it, "predictive policing" won't do it and unregulated fentanyl would not be found on the streets. I am becoming less and less confident in our elected officials and the police to ever be able to understand the real lessons of alcohol prohibition and apply them to our current problems.

New leadership is needed. Has your newspaper ever posed such a question to any politician (for example, Mr. Cummings) to try to understand why they oppose ending the "War on Drugs"?

David Griggs, Columbia

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