JHU study reviews Baltimore crime data since riots
by George Lettis
A Johns Hopkins University study that reviewed recent reported crime data from Baltimore City police concludes Commissioner Kevin Davis has had a stabilizing effect on city crime, not a revolutionary one.
About a year has passed since Davis became Baltimore’s police commissioner, appointed after the Freddie Gray riots. Johns Hopkins sociology professor Stephen Morgan dug into city crime data from the post-Gray unrest to date. “We see a mix of good and not-quite-as-good news,” Morgan said.
The study shows that in the period when Davis served as interim police commissioner, from July to October 2015, overall crime dropped and arrests went up. Comparing Davis’ interim period to the year since he took the job permanently, robberies and carjackings have gone up, and burglaries, thefts and homicides have gone down. “Things did not get worse. There is a real chance they could have gotten worse,” Morgan said. The number of shootings went up half a percent, basically meaning no improvement.
“I do think that most of us believed that the rate of shootings in the city could be brought under control more quickly than they have been. That being said, very few of us understand the full range of challenges police face right now, so it may be a problem of our own expectation rather than what is actually achievable,” Morgan said.
In a recent interview with the 11 News I-Team, Davis talked about his hope that state lawmakers give people arrested with illegal handguns more prison time.
“Look at Washington, D.C., look at New York, it’s a felony in those two jurisdictions, and those jurisdictions have enjoyed, in the last decade and a half, far greater decline in violence than Baltimore,” Davis said.
The study also compared current Baltimore crime to levels to those before the Ferguson, Missouri, unrest in the summer of 2014. It concluded Baltimore is more violent now as homicides increased 40 percent and shootings went up 90 percent.