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In fighting both crime and odor, cleaning up street corners has its rewards | READER COMMENTARY

A Baltimore police officer wears a mask while patrolling outside of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine last year. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
A Baltimore police officer wears a mask while patrolling outside of Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine last year. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) (Julio Cortez/AP)

I don’t know where to begin to take issue with some of retired Maryland State Police Major Neill Franklin’s assertions in his recent commentary, “Criminal justice reform has made Marilyn Mosby a lightning rod in Baltimore, but the prosecutor’s progressive policies are based on research” (July 20). He tries to make too many points without enough data.

Right off the bat, he claims that “income inequality, easy access to guns or lack of employment opportunities” is the driver of crime in Baltimore. Since he is all about data, I am not aware of any research in depth pointing to that conclusion. Access to guns is rather obvious since this country is awash in guns, but show me the data about why the access is so “easy.” Have arrestees been interviewed as to why they commit crimes or where they got the guns or why not getting a job forced them into criminal behavior? Because Major Franklin says so doesn’t make it so. His claim that because research by Johns Hopkins University concluded that there was no link between low level offenses and serious crimes means that because someone urinates in a public street doesn’t mean “he will pull a trigger.” This assertion is ludicrous on its face. I could make the assertion that someone who would have no compunction about publicly exposing and relieving himself (or herself) would not be reluctant to commit a gun crime. It is silly to say this, but is there data on post public urination crime?

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A last observation is Mr. Franklin’s mind-blowing statement that a request to arrest and prosecute for prostitution, public urination and defecation is dangerous to public health because of the pandemic and congregating these arrestees in the booking center is “reckless.” If the state’s attorney refuses to prosecute someone who is arrested for publicly defecating in public, so be it. I will go out on a short limb and speculate that Mr. Franklin may not have patrolled the neighborhoods that I did where the hardworking, decent folks, homeowners and renters who lived there had to contend with public drinking, urination and defecation, along with street prostitution and corner drug dealing. Before one gets all “progressive” about what are “minor” crimes, I remember with much clarity when walking foot in the Western District 47 years ago, observing an older gentleman strolling past an often rowdy bar corner, which was near where I was walking, and said to me in passing: “Nice clean corner, Officer.”

He made my day.

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Jim Giza, Baltimore

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