Story, photos & audio by A.F. James MacArthur
Friday night saw the beginning of a new new offensive in the war on crime in Baltimore. After years of earning a reputation of sometimes resembling a virtual out-of-control war zone, Greenmount Ave. in north Baltimore became one of the first locations to see deployment of a new partnership between Maryland State Police and the Baltimore Police Department bringing a sizable contingent of the state troopers with feet on the ground.
"I heard there's already been two murders tonight...,"
It was not clear if the new initiative came as a direct request of brand new, yet to be confirmed, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. The timing of this never-before-seen troop surge begs the question be asked; will Batts be the man with a plan, bringing innovative, untried ideas to Baltimore?
Known for a high degree of discipline and strict enforcement, the presence of the Maryland State Police, en mass within the confines of one of Baltimore's most crime-ridden quarters is on obvious shift in strategy. After numerous back to back murders on or near Greenmount Ave.,and an untold level of violence including stabbing, non-fatal shootings, robberies, rapes and a rash of burglary, area residents and merchants have repeatedly expressed anger and disappointment towards Baltimore Police Department for a seeming lack of an ability to gain results in restoring calm to the area.
|Trooper surround man arrested on Greenmount Ave.|
In a relative short span of time, the Baltimore Spectator observed a stretch of the famed avenue normally inundated with unsavory characters, completely clear out. The troopers conducted traffic stops, swept for stolen cars using automatic tag readers, and made at least one arrest of a habitual public drunk, all while this reporter watched.
The initiative drew a lot of attention. The corner of Greenmount and 33rd, a site of several shootings and murders, is quite often populated by drug dealers, obviously high and intoxicated individuals, and homeless people. All this was strangely absent last night as state police, rolling up to four deep in a patrol cars, and up to a dozen more on foot, made their presence known.
Several bystanders on the street remarked to the Baltimore Spectator surprise and astonishment at seeing the large number of State Police in their distinctive, two-tone, green and khaki uniforms, topped by the highly recognizable Smokey-The-Bear hats. Using language not suitable for publication, one young man upon learning of the initiative expressed anger at their presence as he quickly shuffled down the avenue. He clearly wanted nothing to do with the area now that Maryland State Police were on the scene.
According to sources within the Maryland State Police, last night was the first night of a new initiative launched in Baltimore city in response to rising crime rates. The actions are a direct contradiction to a repeating narrative heard from many quarters that crime is down. After all, were crime truly down, one would have to ask, why the increased police presence from an elite law enforcement agency?
|State Troopers stand watch at Greenmount Ave and 33rd St.|
For troopers from far flung parts of the state like La Plata, Cecil County, and Frederick, working the streets of Maryland's largest, most crime ridden city brought an obvious level of excitement to these law enforcers. "I heard there's already been two murders tonight," remarked one trooper as he told the Baltimore Spectator they hoped to make a difference in Charm City.
The initiative is to be ongoing, primarily on the weekends. Not just limited to Greenmount Ave. By the time the troopers arrived at the famed corridor of death last night, they had already been to four other districts working with Baltimore Police.
For what it's worth, Baltimore Police told the Baltimore Spectator via Twitter this morning, federal agents and state police have been working here in the city for some time, although this hasn't seemed to be reported by any other media.
A veteran urban combat corespondent, A.F. James MacArthur patrolled some of the the most dangerous zip codes on the planet, in and out of uniform, before becoming Baltimore's premier, independent street reporter. Making innovative use of social media, he can be reached at 410-205-NEWS (6397), MacArthurMedia@gmail.com, and followed via an ever expanding universe of venues: @BaltoSpectator on twitter , Spreaker web radio, BlogTalk Radio, Baltimore Spectator on Facebook, YouTube channel