Tags: Baltimore Riots | drugs | ferguson | baltimore | violence

'Ferguson Effect,' Theft of Drugs During Riots Wreaking Havoc on Baltimore

Image: 'Ferguson Effect,' Theft of Drugs During Riots Wreaking Havoc on Baltimore
(Jim Bourg/Reuters)

By    |   Friday, 05 Jun 2015 08:41 AM

Baltimore's police commissioner says the uptick in violent crime in his city can be attributed in large part to the surge in narcotics on the streets since rioters looted at least 27 pharmacies and drug clinics during the mob violence that broke out following the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody in April, CNN reports.

"Criminals are selling those stolen drugs," Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told the network. "There are turf wars happening which are leading to violence and shootings in our city."

Criminals stole some 175,000 dosage units of fentanyl, oxycodone, amphetamines, Adderall, hydrocodone, morphine and tramadol and other drugs during the riots, an amount Batts said is "enough narcotics on the streets of Baltimore to keep it intoxicated for a year."

Others, including City Councilman Carl Stokes, say the stolen drugs are only part of the equation.

"There's more opportunity for the criminals in this city to do what they're doing because leadership is failing and, frankly, because the Fraternal Order of Police if they didn't order it they have given some, again, not an order, but to say to their rank and file you don't have to work as hard as you should be working, you don't have to live up to your oath to serve and protect. ... I think we have a horrible situation going on in this town," Stokes said.

His sentiments reflect the so-called "Ferguson Effect," the theory that officers are standing down in the wake of plummeting morale due to anti-police sentiment by both by leaders and the community, while emboldened criminals take advantage of apathetic police.

"Unfortunately and crazily, police officers are actually telling average citizens, ‘We're not doing all of the extra things that we used to do, we're not doing it and we're not doing it because we're upset with our leadership,'" Stokes said.

Multiple media reports have documented a spike in crime across the country following two decades of falling numbers. Compared with last year, shootings in Baltimore are up 82.5 percent and 40 percent in Chicago, where homicides also increased 29 percent in the first three months of the year.

Violent crime rates have skyrocketed in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Dallas.

Heather McDonald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, writes in The New York Times that a possible explanation for the uptick in crime is that "officers have become reluctant to engage in proactive policing because of the vitriol they have faced over the last nine months."

"The claim, frequently repeated in the media, that police routinely kill young black men has led to riots, sometimes violent protests and attacks on officers," she continues.

"The assassination of two New York police officers in December tamped down the rhetoric only temporarily. Two men who met during the protests in Ferguson, Mo., pleaded guilty this week to planning to bomb a police station.

"Arrests in many communities have become fraught, with angry crowds surrounding officers when they respond to calls for assistance.

"A good-faith error may now lead to a criminal indictment, police worry. Cellphone videos may capture only their own use of force and not a suspect's resistance to an arrest."

Since Freddie Gray's death, Baltimore police have arrested fewer than half as many people as before the unrest, the Baltimore Sun reports, citing department figures.

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Baltimore's police commissioner says the uptick in violent crime in his city can be attributed in large part to the surge in narcotics on the streets since rioters looted at least 27 pharmacies and drug clinics during the mob violence that broke out following the death of...
drugs, ferguson, baltimore, violence
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2015-41-05
Friday, 05 Jun 2015 08:41 AM
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