BALTIMORE, MD — As U.S. cities deal with the effects of defunding police departments, crimes, including homicides, continue to increase throughout the nation.
However, some politicians and citizens want to place the blame on police leadership, even if it is deemed progressive, instead of focusing on those who voted to reduce funding and manpower for law enforcement.
Baltimore City is one of those places where homicides continue to skyrocket, and now one black activist is calling for black Police Commissioner Michael Harrison to be fired, despite his department’s progressive policies.
Footage from the officers’ body cameras that captured the shooting was publicly released Wednesday.— The Baltimore Sun (@baltimoresun) May 19, 2021
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the shooting remains under investigation but said he believes the officers took the appropriate action.https://t.co/kApo6HabPl
Last year, CBS 13 reported the Baltimore City Council voted to defund the Baltimore Police Department’s budget by more than $22 million.
At the time, Harrison said he understood switching things up by spending more money on social programs, but he also worried about too many cuts being done too quickly. Harrison told CBS 13:
“We are really kind of a basic, functioning police department. There are impacts. You know, impacts — some could be very negative.”
Liberal city lawlessness— Joanne West (@JW4081) October 14, 2019
Commissioner Harrison was sworn in for the job in March of 2019, according to FOX 45.
Harrison’s five-year contract includes $275,000 for his first year, with a 3% increase for each additional year.
Naturally there's Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, who made a whopping $275,000 both this year and last year. https://t.co/Tt8sVLW3Gn— Open Justice Baltimore (@OpenJusticeBalt) August 29, 2020
Before coming to the Baltimore Police Department, he was with the New Orleans Police Department for nearly three decades.
One Baltimore resident who is unhappy with Harrison is Kenji Scott.
Scott is a well-known local community activist who has held various positions in local city government.
A community activist is speaking out against Police Commissioner Harrison. https://t.co/yGalmBhSOa— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) May 25, 2021
Scott told FOX 45 gun violence seems out of control. He also said the department’s progressive police plan is not working and Harrison should be fired as a result.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the number of guns recovered by police in 2020 is up 9%, per recent Sun story.— Ron Cassie (@ron_cassie) December 31, 2020
How those guns those got here:https://t.co/GiCt3OTOKq @Everytown @teamtrace @bradybuzz @MayorBMScott @pcgvr @gunviolenceprev @MomsDemand @CSGV
Scott noted some voters don’t understand what they are voting for:
“The average Baltimorean who goes to the polls to vote don’t know what the hell a progressive is.
“So, they say we got a progressive mayor, we got a progressive police chief, we got a progressive state’s attorney.
“But the only thing that we see is us progressing to the cemetery, day after day, after day.”
How is reducing police working out?— Dr. Jimmy Yam (@JimmyJoeYam) May 24, 2021
Homicides increases 2021 vs 2020
Los Angeles 31%
New York 36%
Portland 800% (yes, 800%)
St. Louis 23%
"But if it saves the life of even one criminal resisting arrest…"#mondaythoughts pic.twitter.com/KhOP7spTeK
FOX 45 reached out to the police department, but there was no comment from it regarding Scott’s call for the removal of Harrison.
20 days into may and 20 murders this month. And it’s only 9am! What a lovely mission statement you have. Too bad it is meaningless.— Stephanie Mercado (@sjmercado1) May 20, 2021
The city’s 52nd mayor, Brandon M. Scott, says he is working to end gun violence, improve Baltimore and restore the public’s trust in government, according to his biography:
“Scott was unanimously elected President of the Baltimore City Council by his colleagues in May 2019.
“As Council President, Scott developed and released the first-ever City Council President legislative agenda, focused on building safer, stronger communities, cleaning up city government, investing in Baltimore’s young people, and centering equity.
“Previously, Scott served on the City Council representing Baltimore’s 2nd District. He was first elected in 2011 at the age of 27 and is one of the youngest people ever elected to the Baltimore City Council.”
Read my full statement: https://t.co/wO2CgEQzQO— Brandon M. Scott (@MayorBMScott) May 20, 2021
The biography describes his first-term initiatives, which included oversight of the police department:
“Scott emerged as a leading voice in reducing violence in Baltimore and reinstated Council Oversight of the Baltimore Police Department by holding quarterly hearings.
“He believes that reducing violence will require a holistic, all-hands-on-deck approach, one that recognizes violence is fundamentally a public health issue.
“Scott led legislative initiatives that created extensive crime data sharing and online reporting of crimes by the Baltimore Police Department. In 2016, Scott introduced and passed legislation creating an open data policy in Baltimore.”
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As a councilman in 2018, Scott had introduced and passed monumental legislation on equity in Baltimore. According to his biography, his “equity assessment program law will require all city agencies to operate through a lens of equity and require all operating budgets, capital budgets, and proposed legislation to be weighed through an equity lens.”
The biography also noted “Mayor Scott is a rising star in politics” who is a lifelong resident of Baltimore City. He currently lives in the Frankford neighborhood in the northeast section of the city.
It seems progressive policies are not working too well.
One person who is not pleased with the mayor is Maryland’s Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who referenced Baltimore’s poor leadership on crime at a press conference earlier this month. He bluntly said:
“We’ve been very disappointed in their efforts so far.
“The city needs to just do a better job of focusing on crime. It seems to be the last thing that they’re concerned about, and they need to come up with a real plan.”
Gov. Hogan also pointed out that Baltimore’s lawmakers have repeatedly rejected legislation that would be tough on crime. He also criticized prosecutors.
CBS 13 spoke with the mayor about the governor’s criticism of him and Mayor Scott retorted:
“While these partisan talking points to gain credibility with some folks whoever is fine for him to do in his opinion, but for me I know what I was doing over the weekend.
“I know where I was. I know that I was out in West Baltimore walking in one of the neighborhoods where have been hardest hit by violence.”
CBS 13 spoke with two residents and asked for their views on the exchange between the governor and mayor. One unidentified white man said:
“Everybody has to work together. You know, it’s this city has been a mess for a long time, and any police officer that you ask will tell you that it’s a lot harder for them to do their jobs since 2015.”
An unidentified black woman said:
“I think they do need to be adults and come together, sit down, have a conversation because they’re both looking out for the city, so something needs to be done.”
She also added that both the mayor and governor need to work together:
“If they can’t work together, then maybe they don’t need to be in office.”
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