When it comes to American cities with epidemics of gun violence and drug trafficking, two names come immediately to mind.
First is Chicago, where a 32 year ban on handguns has completely obliterated the city’s hope for peace any time in the near future. The sheer amount of illicit weapons transported into the Windy City’s neighborhoods between 1982 and 2014 is no match for the measly 3 years of corrective legislation currently enacted.
The other American city known solely for its despicable violence and drug trade is Baltimore, Maryland. Once thought to be a product of HBO’s acclaimed drama The Wire, Baltimore’s reputation is in no way a work of fiction, as the city has long been in the grips of a violent crime wave that has spanned decades.
Now, as Baltimore continues the lengthy and arduous process of once again making their streets safe for its citizens, one police commissioner is considering a bold return to an old-school tactic.
“Acting Baltimore Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa is considering putting plainclothes officers back onto the streets to search for guns and drugs, he said.
“’I am evaluating to see what best practices tell us, what the research tells us, on plainclothes, and if it has an effect on reducing crime,’ he said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun.
“The practice was halted last year, after officers of one of the most touted plainclothes units in the department — the Gun Trace Task Force — were indicted on federal racketeering charges.
“De Sousa, a 30-year veteran who spent about six years of his career in plainclothes units and who took over the police department earlier this month, said the department has learned lessons from the GTTF case, and it is a top priority of his to ensure that officers under his command ‘engage the community in a constitutional manner’ at all times.
“’We know who our violent repeat offenders are,’ he said. ‘There’s an emphasis to safeguard the community, there’s an emphasis to reduce the violent crime in Baltimore city, and it’s my vision and it’s my goal to do that in an expedited fashion.’”
It seems as though Baltimore’s criminal issues don’t cease to exist once you reach the precinct door.
Should the city decide to reinstate the once-controversial program, the abuses of its previous incarnation will likely come back into focus in a big way, hopefully ensuring that the task forces adhere to the laws that they themselves are sworn to protect.