An opinion column published in the Baltimore Sun raised eyebrows on Monday for touting the city’s “steady” crime rate, which is on pace to hit over 300 homicides for the 7th year in a row, as the gold standard among major U.S. cities.
Larry Gibson, a law professor at the University of Maryland School of Law who served in the Justice Department under President Carter, penned an op-ed comparing the “steady” homicide rates in Baltimore to the surging crime rates impacting other U.S. cities. Gibson even encouraged local leaders to look toward Baltimore as a model in containing the soaring crime wave rippling across the U.S.
The article, headlined “Baltimore’s homicide rate remains steady as others’ soar; perhaps the rest of the country should follow our lead,” cites a 25 percent national increase in homicides from 2019 to 2020. During the same time period, Gibson argues, Baltimore City saw a 4 percent decrease; moving the annual homicide rate from 338 to 335.
“What we are doing is not producing this acceleration of homicides that we are seeing nationwide,” Gibson writes, calling it “indisputable and significant that Baltimore’s year-to-year trajectory was much better than the rest of the nation.”
A Baltimore Police forensics team enters the house in West Baltimore where a U.S. Marshall was shot while while serving an arrest warrant on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Baltimore police spokeswoman Lindsey Eldridge said in an email that the suspect was shot by return fire and died after Thursday morning’s shooting. (Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
“As of May 2021, homicides in Philadelphia were up 28% over 2020. Also as of mid-May, New York homicides were up 27%. Available current statistics show that Baltimore will either match last year’s numbers or have an increase that is much lower than the national average,” he went on.
Gibson said other states should look toward Baltimore City in order to identify and amplify “whatever measures appear to be working locally.”
“Baltimore has always been a city of creativity and invention,” he wrote. ” Maybe, it is again time for us to lead the nation out of trouble.”
Baltimore—which boasts a much smaller population than the other cities Gibson cited, reported 335 homicides in 2020, including 48 women and girls. The city closed with 348 homicides in 2019, and 309 the year prior. The city recorded a total of 344 homicides in 2015, a number second only to the number recorded in 1993 when the population was 100,000 higher. This was, at the time, the highest murder rate on a per capita basis ever recorded.
Social media users tore into the Baltimore Sun for publishing the opinion column.
“Imagine uttering this statement as if it’s some sort of accolade. An achievement. Baltimore on pace to hit 300+ homicides for the 7th year in a row, and people want to pat themselves on the back for it? WOOF,” one Twitter user wrote.
“The man that wrote this is a genius but this article is not reflective of it,” another argued.
“How is 335 lives lost a sign that we’re doing something right?” a Baltimore resident concurred. “I doubt all the loved ones of the 335 people killed last year & 163 people so far this year feel like this city is doing anything right.
“I used to work in Baltimore and never came across anyone holding it up as a model for other cities to emulate,” international security professor Max Abrahms wrote.
Gibson’s column caught the attention of Baltimore’s State’s attorney Marilyn Mosby, who shared it on her social media pages on Monday. Mosbey and her husband’s finances are currently under a federal criminal investigation.