I wish it were possible to just wish it away — this long, terrible run of violence. I have lived and worked here for 45 years now, and have written many times about all the violence that comes from all the drug dealing that comes from all the drug addiction. And then there’s the violence that is harder to explain, not directly associated with the commerce in drugs, but rooted in dark impulses — anger, hatred, revenge and jealousy. More than one public health expert refers to the “violence contagion” that can spread from person to person, provoking retaliation.
I must be candid: I have been over this ground so many times as a columnist for The Sun, and it’s the one place where I feel newspaper commentary has had no effect. In my column today — here’s the link to it — I examine an issued raised by Thiru Vignarajah, a former prosecutor, regarding the way the Baltimore Police Department records a homicide case being cleared. (It’s not always by arrest.) My main takeaway is that police detectives need to identify suspects faster to break the cycle of retaliation that leads to further killing, including the killing of the suspects in earlier killings. To clear one homicide because the main suspect is the victim of a second homicide makes some kind of macabre sense, but it’s not what any citizen should be satisfied with. It means the cycle continues, to the north of 300 homicides per year.
We tell another horrible story in the Sun today: Boy, 14, charged in fatal shooting of 15-year-old in Northwest Baltimore.
Many days, it seems like a lost cause, that it will never end.
But we can’t give up. We can’t be satisfied, ever, that killers are killing killers, and that there’s nothing the police or the federal-state-city government can do about it. There has to be an iron will to curtail this insanity.
I’ve said that before, and I’ve said all this before: We need more cops. We need more cops the community can trust and work with. We need more direct intervention — more interrupters — to break the cycle of violence. If we’re not going to end the war on drugs, we can at least provide more treatment for the addicted to reduce the demand for drugs. We need to stop the illegal gun trade. We need to rebuild the corrections system to help ex-offenders find good jobs and stable lives after prison. We need more (and better paid) social workers to help stressed and struggling families, to help more Baltimore boys and girls reached healthy and honorable adulthood. We need more and better jobs, and public transportation to help people get to them. We need all that. I wish we could do all that. We could break the cycle in one generation.