A city council leader, alarmed by Baltimore's rising homicide rate, wants to give the mayor the power to put troubled neighborhoods under virtual lockdown.
"Desperate measures are needed when we're in desperate situations," City Council Vice President Robert W. Curran told The (Baltimore) Sun. He said he would introduce the legislation next week.
Under Curran's plan, the mayor could declare "public safety act zones," which would allow police to close liquor stores and bars, limit the number of people on city sidewalks, and halt traffic during two-week intervals.
Police would be encouraged to aggressively stop and frisk individuals in those zones to search for weapons and drugs.
Baltimore has tallied 108 homicides already this year, compared to 98 over the same period last year. Police and prosecutors also say they are facing a "stop snitching" culture that discourages victims and witnesses from cooperating with investigators trying to get criminals off the streets.
Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a mayoral hopeful, said Curran's idea was an interesting concept but it raised questions about civil liberties.
"We have to make sure we're not declaring martial law," he said.
The Real Effect
Let me get this straight you can close legitimate tax-paying businesses at will, prohibit people from traveling either by sidewalk or vehicle and then "aggressively" search them (probably without warrant) thereby violating their rights guaranteed by the fourth amendment and this is not martial law? Ridiculous!