Baltimore’s Police Seem Everywhere And Nowhere

The city could be accused of policing too much and too little.

Scott Beyer | November 25, 2018 | |

Baltimore is suffering from a contradiction of sorts. On the one hand, the city is known for tough cops and citywide camera surveillance. On the other hand, it can seem at times like there are hardly any police around at all.

On a recent stay in Baltimore, I often saw people openly litter and urinate in such downtown tourist hot spots as Lexington Market and Shot Tower Park. At major intersections, there has been a return of so-called squeegee boys, who surround your car, clean your windows without permission and demand money. But beyond these popular neighborhoods, there are indeed large swaths of Baltimore that are still as dangerous as anything depicted in the TV series “The Wire.” Residents have complained that street prostitution and open-air drug deals go seemingly unchecked by police. Last year, Baltimore saw 343 homicides, a new city record for killings per capita. Only Chicago, a considerably larger city, had more.

How is it then that a place can seem both over-policed and under-policed?

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