The murder rate in Baltimore continues to skyrocket following the arrest of six officers in the death of Freddie Gray. The city’s police commissioner blamed the surge on drug wars following the looting of pharmacies during the riots in April.
The city’s spike in killings has police scrambling to keep up. Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts is asking for help from federal officials and he said stolen drugs is the problem.
“There are enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year,” said Batts.
He announced 27 pharmacies were looted during the riots following the death of Freddie Gray, including two methadone clinics.
He is blaming the flood of drugs on the streets for the surge in murders since the unrest.
“Criminals are selling those stolen drugs,” Batts said. “There are turf wars happening, which are leading to violence and shootings in our city.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration said they already know more than 175,000 doses of prescription narcotics were stolen, but that number could as much as double as pharmacies are still assessing their losses.
“With the looting, that has triggered the violence in the city more,” said Kordae May.
She grew up blocks from the now-boarded up CVS store on Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue. Her grandmother worked there until it was burned in the riots.
May is encouraged that Commissioner Batts mentioned that his department is working with school police to stop the spike in violence, but she said it all begins with the youth and the schools need help.
“My main concern is the resources in the schools,” said Mae. “Cracking down on reading because knowledge is power.”
Troy Bardney has lived in west Baltimore his entire life. He told us the typical summertime spike in crime usually means a more visible police presence. But now, he wonders where the officers are.
“The police, they don’t give a damn right now,” he said. “All they are saying is if they are going to kill each other, let them kill each other.”
“Whether we have a morale issue or not, we have an ethical responsibility to keep this city safe,” said Batts. “We have an ethical responsibility to make sure the 9-year-olds, the 7-year-olds, the babies are not harmed in this city.”
Commissioner Batts has made a formal request for help from more federal agents and prosecutors.
In the meantime, the police union is also requesting internal records to look into communication between police commanders when the rioting broke out.