The Baltimore Sun continues to do its part in calling city officials to action. It is hardly alone in that regard. My question today is directed to the mayor: Are you listening, Your Honor?
As I noted in a post to my blog a couple of days ago the Sun has demonstrated its concern about the lack of both direction and a sense of urgency in dealing with the epidemic of murder and other violent crime that has gripped Baltimore for the past two years by publishing a series of opinion pieces and commentary on the subject, including my own. Today the Sun published two thoughtful letters, one from Mr. Jack Boyson pointing out the role that community associations could play as part of an overall strategy for reducing crime.
The other was from Dr. Stuart Varon, stating that Baltimore needs an anti-violence summit. It is an idea that I put forth in an op ed in January and which needed repeating. As Dr. Varon points out, summits can have synergistic effects; heaven knows, the energy must come from somewhere to induce the city to get its act together and put together a viable plan for reducing the violence.
I received a short note from someone who has done his best to get the word out about the need for the city to revisit whatever blueprint it is working from to tamp down the violence, and to do so soon. His message was “keep the pressure on.” People like Mr. Boyson and Dr. Varon are doing what they can to keep the pressure on, and are doing so in a positive and constructive manner. I am going to change that tone a bit with the following comment:
Mayor Pugh, you are drifting toward a crisis in confidence; the storm clouds are gathering. Influential members of the city council – and many others – clearly are impatient with your approach to managing the crisis of violent crime in the city. Your inability to find a suitable head for the city’s Office of Criminal Justice six months into your administration and over two years into an unprecedented wave of violent crime has become representative of your struggles.
I criticized Police Commissioner Kevin Davis for not articulating his strategy for combating the violence as stress fractures within the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) continue to expand. It is your office, however, that is responsible for the overall approach of which the law enforcement component is only a part, and it is an overall strategy for which there is the most pressing need.
You pride yourself on your collegiality and ability to get people to collaborate on solutions on to problems. Sometimes, particularly in crises, leaders also must get out in front and initiate measures around which their followers can coalesce. You’re not doing so hot on that part of your job.
I suggest that you embrace the city council’s proposal that the city develop a “comprehensive gun violence reduction strategy” and kick off the process for developing the strategy with a well-organized summit. Invite experts, and invite the governor. Baltimore needs to see you step up and take charge of coming up with solutions, and soon.
June 25, 2017