Welcome to Baltimore News Flash – This Week in Baltimore!
Featured in this new category are my picks for the top news stories of the week; stories that speak to the troubles—and triumphs—of life in Baltimore.
Comments and feedback are always welcome. And if you have additional topics you’d like to see covered, please share them.
January 1-7, 2018 – Edition 1
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis Reveals New, Modernizing Policing Approaches
On December 30, 2017, Commissioner Davis published an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun (“Police Commissioner: BPD Making Strides” [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-op-1231-bpd-improvements-20171228-story.html]), reviewing the challenges the department faced over the year and detailing advances being developed for 2018.
Among the developments he described are greater access to mental health support for officers; a Crisis Response Team that puts officers and mental health professionals together in marked police cars; coordinated efforts to find treatment alternatives rather than jail time for low-level drug users, along with more adequate supplies of naloxone for overdose victims; and an outreach service for homeless persons to connect them to available help.
It was a welcome—and surprising—show of transparency that bodes well for the agency’s efforts to modernize and rebuild a department long saddled by corrupt practices and distrust within the city it serves. It is also another positive sign that our City chose the right person to lead the department after several years of revolving-door leadership.
Justice with a Heart: Rikki Spector Mentors Teens Who Carjacked Her
In 2016, Baltimore Councilwoman Rochelle “Rikki” Spector was the victim of a heartless, violent carjacking by two teenaged boys. What she did in response to this crime is nothing less than justice—with a heart [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-spector-carjacking-mentoring-20171218-story.html]. Not only did she closely follow the boys’ case in the court, she worked with them throughout the case, offering them a second chance at life that few people would even contemplate. But if they did, perhaps, the “fight against crime” would be that much more powerful and effective.
Baltimore City Schools Lack Heat; Politicians Create Their Own
After the Christmas break, students in Baltimore returned, on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, to classrooms with no heat, and in some cases, floors buckled by water from burst pipes. Reporting and investigations by local media indicate that nearly a third of the City’s schools suffer from these dire conditions, and reveal just how dysfunctional the School System is. Local and state government are equally guilty.
The fact that teachers had to resort to social media and other news outlets [https://www.baltimorebrew.com/2018/01/02/baltimore-teachers-decry-severely-cold-classrooms/], rather than reporting internally to their principals and other leaders within the system, uncovered the major, wide-reaching problems facing our city regarding education.
We in Baltimore have known about this for years. Perhaps, now that it’s garnered national attention, we will get some results. But it’s going to take everyone—parents and teachers (where are the PTAs in individual schools?); the School System, Department of Education, the Mayor, the City Council (who’s running this show, anyway?), and our state government and representatives to set right the decades of neglect, mismanagement, and greed that has all but destroyed a once great educational system in Baltimore.
Here are links to more articles about this problem. Funding appears to be the major issue [http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2018/01/04/baltimore-cold-schools-heat-state-funds/; https://www.teenvogue.com/story/why-baltimore-teachers-wanted-schools-to-close-heat-infrastructure-challenges].
So major that a local college student started a GoFundMe page and has already raised $56,000(!) since his story first appeared [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/k-12/bs-md-ci-gofundme-schools-20180104-story.html].