Baltimore arrests tumble after Freddie Gray death, violent crime spikes

Arrests have fallen more than 40 per cent since Freddie Gray died while in police custody

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The Independent US

In the weeks since Freddie Gray died while in the custody of Baltimore police, the city’s officers have cut back on making arrests and violent crime has spiked.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in the three weeks after Mr Gray’s death on 19 April, Baltimore police made 1,453 arrests, a decrease of more than 40 per cent from the same time in 2014 and 2013.

Arrests were way down despite that period including two days when the protests devolved into riots and looting, in which more than 200 people were arrested.

 

Alongside the drop in arrests, violent crime has surged in Baltimore, according to police data. There were 33 homicides reported in Baltimore between 19 April and 16 May, up from 15 during the same period in 2014, a 120 per cent increase. Non-fatal shootings are up 144 per cent during the last month, jumping to 66 this year from 27 last year.

The surge in violent crime is not necessarily linked to the drop in arrests, as arrests have been trending down in Baltimore since the start of 2015. Arrests are down 22 per cent in the first quarter, compared to the same period in 2014, the Journal reported.

Baltimore police did not return calls or emails seeking comment for this story. But the Baltimore police commissioner told the Journal that police officers have been more hesitant to make arrests since Mr Gray’s death.

“It’s a time of uncertainty for us as a police organization, as police officers as a whole,” said Commissioner Anthony Batts.

The uncertainty stems from the circumstances surrounding Mr Gray’s death. He was arrested on 12 April and shackled before being thrown in the back of a police van. He sustained a spinal injury while in the van and died at the hospital a week later. All six officers involved in his arrest have been charged, including one officer charged with second-degree murder.

 

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