Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baltimore? Or the Wild Wild West?

I've lived in Westfield for 6 years, and in and around Baltimore City for the past 11, and I have never been surrounded by so much violent crime as we've had in the past couple of weeks. And before moving here, I lived in Washington, DC, so yes, I know what gunshots sound like, and I know that when lots of people live in close proximity (i.e., in the city), there will be crime, and some of it will be violent.

A couple of weeks ago we arrived home at about 9:30 Sunday night to find our street blocked off while police searched for an armed suspect who had just shot someone at the corner of Old Harford & Harford. (He was caught in the alley behind Royston and Christopher, which is apparently where the confusion about the location of the shooting stems from.)

Well, we all move on with our lives. But the violence continues. Yesterday an off-duty police officer shot an armed robber who had entered his home. I heard Ed Norris this morning gleefully saying "He messed with the wrong guy! Ha ha!" And I understand the satisfaction of a criminal getting immediate repercussion for his crime.

But I find particularly disturbing in this story the report that as the robber was running down the street, from Glenarm to White Ave., the police officer was chasing him and firing his gun. (In fact, Jayne Miller's report had an eyewitness saying the robber had dropped his gun and had his hands raised, saying "I'm sorry, man!" Will this be investigated?) Of course I understand wanting to catch the guy, but at some point isn't the public's safety more important? The report says the suspect was shot "multiple times." Wasn't once or twice enough?

And this morning we have this story:

Hopkins student kills intruder with samurai sword, police say

Which again is being met with comments of "Good for him!" and "One less criminal!"

And again, I think to myself, "What kind of world do I live in?" Have we not evolved from the gunslingers of the old west? There was no law and order, no police force, in those days, and everyone armed themselves for safety. Is that what Baltimore City is gleefully becoming? Are you happy about citizens taking the law into their own hands?


Christopher said...

I think a lot of Baltimore citizens are fed up with the crime problem, and will cheer any kind of justice they see, even if it comes under questionable circumstances.

The burglar in the JHU case had been released from police custody on Saturday after serving time for grand theft auto, and had prior convictions numbering in the double-digits. Where is the criminal rehabilitation?

If Baltimore citizens are taking the law into their own hands, possibly more out of necessity rather than glee, it's because the existing system is not working for them. The sluggish justice system continually releases known criminals and the police can barely keep up with the sheer volume of crimes. Fix these problems, and the citizens can focus on something else.

Robert Walshe said...

Or Feudal Japan?

When I was walking over to the Hamilton/Lauraville Tuesday Market there was a guy leaving walking down Harford Rd with a Samurai Sword.

Sue J said...

Believe me, Christopher, I do understand the frustration. I don't know how many times I've called 911 to report something, and never have the police show up.

I guess my biggest concern is that in the JHU case, everyone is saying the criminal deserved what he got -- but for all the prior convictions, there's no indication he was violent. So the JHU student's actions seem out of proportion to the crime, to me, and I am shocked at the amount of public joy in his violent death.

Robert, I don't even know what to say about that. Surely one it can't be legal to walk down the street with a sword?!