Arrests in Baltimore, Maryland, have reportedly decreased, even as the murder rates continue to soar.
Among a seemingly anti-police climate in the city following the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of officers, many are suspecting that a slowdown was implemented within the city’s police force in response. The apparent slowdown is occurring as homicides in 2015 increased to 100 from 71 last year, and nonfatal shootings climbed 70 percent.
“Regarding the crime increase in the western district, this is certainly a contentious time in our city and we believe there is a criminal element taking advantage of the situation,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #3 President Gene Ryan said in a statement. “Police are not responsible for the systemic issues of poverty that have plagued our communities. There has been a lot of finger pointing and the weight is heavy on our officers’ shoulders.”
Critics of the apparent slowdown suggested that those within the police force have felt a lack of support from city officials, including Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Rawlings-Blake said of the crime increase. “It is disheartening, but I am still resolved to continue to reduce violent crime in our city.”
A Baltimore officer, who chose to remain anonymous, spoke with CNN on Friday and offered insight into the current climate within the police department as a result of the aftermath of Gray’s death. “Morale is in the sewers,” the officer said. “I believe this is the direct result of officers holding back.”
The officer added that many officers have “stop[ped] being productive.”
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