As Baltimore grapples with its highest per capita record for homicides, some resident blame a lack of police presence in their neighborhoods as a reason for the city’s gun violence problem.
One Baltimore, Md., pastor argued that more police need to patrol the city’s neighborhoods in order to better protect the locals, according to an interview with NPR published Sunday.
“We wanted the police there,” Rev. Kinji Scott told NPR. “We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn’t want them beating the hell out of us, we didn’t want that. We need the front line police officers and we need the heart of the black community to step to the forefront of this discussion. And that’s when we’re going to see a decrease in crime.”
Baltimore reached 343 homicides last week as city leaders struggle to come up with ways to fix the violence. Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Democrat, released a holistic crime plan, aimed at cracking down on poverty, opening up access to local community colleges to students who might not be able to afford it and working to better train officers, while the city police commissioner touted the recent addition of new hires to the force.
The city has grappled with police brutality and strained relationships between police officers and the communities they serve after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died from spinal cord injuries while in police custody.
Scott agreed that the community did not want officers harming them, but that the community needed good police officers willing to interact with and protect the neighborhood.
“And of course we want to delineate the whole culture of bad policing that exists — nobody denies that — but as a result of this, we don’t see the level of policing we need in our community to keep the crime down in our cities that we are seeing bleed to death,” Scott added to NPR.
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