As murder rates climb to an alarming record high in the city of Baltimore, its mayor, Catherine Pugh, has asked the FBI to help local police control the violence. According to a news report on Baltimore.CBSLocal.com, murders in Baltimore rose to almost one killing a day. Before the end of the first quarter, killings climbed to 100 — the highest it has been since 1998. Recent figures from Data.BaltimoreSun.com show that the number has risen to 112 as of May 2017. The unstoppable rising rate of homicides is precisely what prompted Pugh to seek the help of the FBI and other federal agencies.
“I’m calling on all the assistance we can possibly get because I can’t imagine going into our summer months with our crime rate where it is today…murder is out of control,” Pugh was quoted as saying in the report.
According to a separate report on FoxNews.com, FBI and other federal agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) will be intervening not only in terms of manpower, but also technology. The report revealed that a bullet tracing van called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) has been deployed in the city. The van will help police officers solve crimes with greater speed, through technology that can process bullet casings in real time. Investigators using the NIBIN will have access to its extensive library of ballistic evidence and positive matches on bullets from guns used in previous crimes.
While Baltimore’s current murder crisis is alarming, it is not at all new. The shadow of police brutality and gang violence has been looming over the city for decades, and the FBI has been called to intervene before.
A strikingly similar situation occurred in August 2015, when then-Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake elevated the city’s violence problem to federal agencies after the city recorded 45 killings in July of that year alone and a homicide case clearance of just 36 percent. A report on Breitbart.com said that at that time, 10 federal agents joined the local Baltimore police to keep the murder rate in check.
Earlier that year, a series of protests turned violent, then compelling the FBI to step in, though their involvement would turn out to be controversial. The protests were sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old black American man, who died of spinal cord injuries while in police custody. According to a report on Independent.co.uk, the FBI used secret surveillance drones to monitor the violent protests from above for quicker on-ground response to criminal activities — a move seen by many as an invasion of privacy.
As the FBI moves in on Baltimore, it remains to be seen whether the federal agency’s involvement is the best recourse for a city being swept away by a tide of mounting violence.
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