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Baltimore Police Commissioner: Apathetic criminal justice system creates repeat offenders

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Posted at 5:49 PM, Jan 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-26 06:06:31-05

There have been 25 murders in 25 days, a near murder a day drumbeat.

It's the rhythm to a morbid march of violence and loss that is quickly defining 2017 in Baltimore. Mayor Catherine Pugh called them slayings.

"The number of, and I want to say this clearly, the number of African Americans who are dying on the streets of our city at the hands of other folk is serious and so it begs a discussion," the mayor said.

It is a discussion the police commissioner seemed eager to have. At a news conference Wednesday Kevin Davis appeared passionate and frustrated urging a call to action and that the community cannot settle for this being a new normal.

RELATED: Baltimore Police Commissioner: Criminal justice system creating repeat violent offenders

His message was simple, get involved before the system does.

"We are gonna be in a much better place as a city if we can all resolve to get these young people help before they are introduced to our very apathetic criminal justice system because quite frankly, our criminal justice system creates repeat offenders. Creates them," Davis said sternly.

Apathetic is a strong word. The commissioner was purposeful in its use to partly describe a unique Baltimore barrier to bringing charges against some suspects. In the city, police must get permission to charge crimes like murder from the state's attorney's office.

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It was a handshake agreement that pre-dates Davis and Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby but in the commissioner's assessment, vertical prosecution as he calls it, is fueling the murder rate.

"That protocol that has been in place for several years now in Baltimore that quite frankly is leaving people that we believe that we have probable cause to charge with murder still out on our streets," Davis said.

Handcuffing the charging power of police in violent crimes exists nowhere else in Maryland the commissioner says and, while he will not say how many cases this protocol affects, he insists it leaves people of interest in other violent crimes to roam the streets of Baltimore.

"Based on where we are with violence right now and ya know, I am putting my money where my mouth is, I still whole heartedly believe that a small number of people are disproportionately responsible for the violence. When we have probable cause to get those folks off the street, we've gotta act quickly," Davis said.

Chief of external affairs for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office Rhonda Washington responded to Davis’ comments sending ABC2 News the following statement,

“As always, we will work cooperatively with the Baltimore Police Department, understanding that the safety of our communities depends and relies on us to do so. The State’s Attorney has requested a meeting with the Commissioner to discuss his thoughts on driving down violent crime.”

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