“Murder is out of control,” Mayor Catherine Pugh said at her weekly press briefing on Wednesday. “There are too many guns on the streets. We’re looking for all the help we can get.”
She made the remarks two days after three more people were killed in the city, bringing the total number of murders since the beginning of this year to 101, a level of violence not matched since the 1990s.
Anthony McCarthy, the mayor’s spokesman, said Pugh has asked he special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore office to bring in more agents to help the local police because the historically high figure was expected to run even higher with warmer months of the year around the corner.
“The summers in Baltimore tend to be very violent,” McCarthy said. “And the mayor wants to get a handle on all the murders, the flood of guns on the streets and the gang activity.”
The spokesman added that Pugh was also asking the FBI to provide its latest technologies with Baltimore Police. According to McCarthy, the mayor was hoping to make an announcement about getting new federal resources sometime next week.
However, Pugh told reporters that newer technology and more agents were not enough to control the murder rate and the city needed a cultural change more than anything.
“This is not just something they [law officials] can stop because they have a gun in their hand… This is a community problem. This is relationship problems. We’re trying to wrap our arms around all of these issues, including drug addiction,” she argued.
“When I walk up and down certain streets in our city, it’s like a march to nowhere. You see the drugs on our streets. You see the people who are drug addicted. There are more drug overdoses in our city than ever before. The governor has declared a statement of emergency. This is not just Baltimore’s problem. This is a problem statewide. It’s a problem nationwide.”
The mayor noted that the city has employed bodycam and other monitoring tools since the death in custody of Freddie Gray April 2015, an unarmed African American.
Gray’s death set off Baltimore’s worst protests and riots in decades and stoked a debate on what is known as the US police brutality against people of color, most particularly African-Americans.