Broken & Backlogged: Baltimore Falls Short on Gun Crime Investigations & Prosecutions

Mar 6, 2020


ROCKVILLE, MD - Baltimore City’s Police Department suffers from a severe manpower shortage and makes 48 percent fewer arrests than it did just five years ago. That is one of several new findings in a report from the Maryland Public Policy Institute visiting fellow Sean Kennedy entitled Public Safety and Baltimore’s Inadequate Response to Gun Crimes. The report scrutinizes Baltimore’s response to gun violence and the prosecution of firearms-related crime in the context of offender data, police resources, and prosecutorial outcomes. Read the full report at


Highlights from the report include:


  • Killings Spiked 65 percent Since 2014: In the last five years (2015-2019), 1,660 homicides have occurred in Baltimore and the annual toll has climbed 65 percent since 2014’s 211 murders. That means roughly one out of every 350 city residents were murdered in this period.
  • Baltimore Police Investigation Unit Understaffed: According to the police department’s own staffing study, the city needs twice as many homicide investigators and must allow them to exclusively focus on killings—something they currently lack the resources to do.
  • Baltimore Forensics Lab Faces Severe Staff Shortage: The city forensics lab processes 1,100 fewer firearms cases than the police submit each year due to chronic staffing shortages. The forensics crime lab is so severely backlogged that it processes only one piece of evidence for every two submitted for examination.
  • Poor Prosecution and Sentencing Record for Gun Criminals Only 27 percent of the 875 “felon in possession” cases from 2016-2018 resulted in guilty verdicts or pleas for that gun offense and 36 percent were dropped by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby between 2016 and 2018. 
  • Homicide Suspects Have Prior Records: Of the 294 homicide suspects identified from 2017 to 2019, 50 percent had prior violent crime arrests and 31 percent were on probation or probation or parole.


“Baltimore’s leaders need to put public safety first,” study author Sean Kennedy said. “Without tackling crime, especially gun crime, and putting its perpetrators behind bars, Baltimore will slip further into decline as residents and businesses flee. The indifference and incompetence of city officials costs lives, deprives citizens of their peace of mind, erodes public trust, and undermines every single policy initiative meant to revive Baltimore.”


Read the full report at


About the Maryland Public Policy Institute: Founded in 2001, the Maryland Public Policy Institute is a nonpartisan public policy research and education organization that focuses on state policy issues. The Institute’s mission is to formulate and promote public policies at all levels of government based on principles of free enterprise, limited government, and civil society. Learn more at