How the Coronavirus Pandemic Fed Baltimore’s Violent Crime Problem
As the wrath of the coronavirus persisted, so did the city’s vast collection of violent crimes, which couldn’t be curtailed by stay-at-home orders or contained by other restrictions.
In the end, in the last days of 2020, amid unexpected quarantines and the usual collateral chaos, Baltimore’s crime sleuths, some of which had fallen ill with the virus, were left feeling frayed by uncertainty and department politics. One of them was even actively seeking better leadership. “The @BaltimorePolice is SILENT on the good deeds our police officers effect every day.” Homicide Detective Sgt. Bob Cherry said in a social media post on Twitter on Dec. 28. “Where is our PIO? Where is our Police Commissioner? Where is @MayorBMScott? And more important, where are our COVID-19 vaccinations? We have been working NON-STOP since early 2020.” He also noted that the police department’s commanders were afraid to speak up while its public information officers were politically driven. “Let’s Fight Violence...and Let’s Start with CHANGE in the @BaltimorePolice,” he said. Cherry had been a part of the team of detectives tasked with solving the deadly shootings that occurred amid a string of violence that shook the residents of southwest Baltimore. On Dec. 20, he was standing in the cold and shining his flashlight on the various pieces of evidence scattered across around a car that once served as a temporary shelter for two women before they were gunned down. The previous year, on nearly the same day, he had been across the city standing in the cold and shining that flashlight on a car parked outside of a beauty salon in which a young woman had been shot and killed. For him, the cycle hadn’t changed; the threat of the coronavirus had only made it more dangerous.
Maggie Ybarra is a senior editor at the National Interest.