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Baltimore Riots and the True Costs of Poor Community Relations

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By Stephanie M. Hunziker, PhD
American Military University
From AMU’s In Public Safety blog

No one can condone the violent actions and civil unrest happening in Baltimore, which has forced the city to activate the National Guard. The death of Freddie Gray—who appears to have died from a broken neck that was sustained while in police custody—has angered citizens because it represents the city’s history of poor police-community relations. Baltimore is just the most current example of similar anger being felt and expressed in cities across the country.Baltimore

Many people watching the turmoil in Baltimore may be in disbelief that these citizens (largely young kids) are literally burning down their own community. To many of us, this scenario just doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately, the real issues in Baltimore are being overlooked because all the public can see is the violence and rage happening on the streets. This rage is being directed at the local and state agencies that are supposed to protect and serve its citizens.

The Real Story Behind the Violence

This anger has been building for many years in Baltimore. There are known issues in the Baltimore Police Department. In October 2014, the U.S. Justice Department began its own investigation of the department, months before the Freddie Gray incident.

In September 2014, Mark Puente wrote an in-depth article in The Sun about police brutality. In this article, he noted that between January 2011 and fall 2014 there were more than 100 judgements and settlements in favor of plaintiffs who had been subjected to undue force by the Baltimore police. The city paid almost $6 million to victims in cases involving excessive force by police.

The True Costs to the Community

The costs to the city are much greater than any monetary figure. As a result of the use of excessive force, citizens distrust the police. They are frustrated that, instead of being protected by the police, they may become the victims.

Read the FULL ARTICLE at In Public Safety.

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