Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said that the city’s booming murder rate has nothing to do with a lack of leadership among city officials.
“It’s not any lack of leadership on my part. I’ve been moving this city forward,” Young told WJZ on Nov. 13, as the city braced to surpass 300 homicides for the fifth year. “I’m not committing the murders.”
“That’s what people need to understand. I’m not committing the murders. The police commissioner is not committing it,” the mayor continued. “The council is not committing it. So how can you fault leadership? You know this has been five years of 300-plus murders, and I don’t see it as a lack of leadership.”
Young’s comments were made in the wake of an op-ed piece penned by The Y in Central Maryland President and CEO John Hoey, which was published by The Baltimore Sun on Nov. 11.
Hoey argued that the city is in the “midst of an existential crisis,” and that leaders have failed to implement “laws, practices and actions” to reduce the violent crime rate.
“Other cities have successfully reduced their violent crime rate significantly, but in Baltimore we have had not just a crisis of confidence but, in my view, a crisis of leadership,” he wrote. “This is a plea to those in elected office, and those who seek to be, to acknowledge the crisis we are in and to focus on it like your hair's on fire, because our city is, essentially on fire.”
Young doubled-down on his defensive comments during a brief interview with WBFF on Nov. 18.
“We’re moving forward and we’re committed to reduce crime in the city, and that’s my final comment on that,” he said as he walked away from reporters.
Critics blasted Young for failing to outline a specific plan to combat the city’s violent crime rate, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“Residents deserve to know their leaders have a vision to coordinate our precious resources in the fight against violent crime effectively and urgently, not passing the buck,” City Council President Brandon Scott said.
“If he thinks it’s not just his job to end the bloodshed, he should hand over the reins to someone who realizes it is,” former city and federal prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah added, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Young later released a statement in response to the criticism.
“While no leaders in our city are personally responsible for these crimes, ALL of us have a role to play in stopping them,” he said. “And, as Mayor, I take and will continue to take responsibility for making our city safer and cleaner.”
“But the City leadership can’t do it alone,” the mayor added. “We need community leaders, stakeholders, and everyday Baltimoreans to come together and work to reduce gun violence.”