President Bush has a chance to change this and put more muscle into murder and drug prosecutions in Baltimore.
He will soon name a successor to Democrat Lynne A. Battaglia, who resigned her post as the U.S. attorney to become a judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals. As the leading Republican from this state, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., will play an influential role in that appointment.
Mr. Ehrlich champions efforts to use federal prosecutions against gunslingers. "I understand that it is not necessarily the feds' job, but if the state is not doing it, somebody has to," he reasons.
Mr. Ehrlich's activism is good. It has produced results.
But he also ought to advocate more federal involvement in the prosecution of important drug-related murder cases in Baltimore. This would be a timely and useful leadership role for Mr. Ehrlich.
The metropolitan area's division into an independent city and several counties has created boundaries that hinder effective crime-fighting. Criminals know that they can buy time by moving from one jurisdiction to another.
That's why regional cooperation must be encouraged in law enforcement. If the criminals are not deterred by jurisdictional divisions, why should investigators and prosecutors be?
After decades of mindless foot-dragging, Baltimore-area police agencies are increasingly working together. An example is the regional Warrant Apprehension Task Force, which started last summer. It unites five local police departments, the Maryland State Police, FBI and U.S. Marshal's Office in hunting down thousands of fugitives wanted for everything from petty offenses to murders.
The regional Red Rum homicide task force is an equally necessary crime-fighting weapon. It must be reactivated so that fewer killers will be able to get away with murder.