Many of Baltimore’s leaders still see policing as the only way to stop the violence that hurts people every day in this city. And even as police fail to do that, most lawmakers here work harder to give police and other powerful entities more money, more power, and greater reach into regular people’s lives.

That’s why J. Brian Charles’ piece on facial recognition technology in this issue is so important. As 2022 came to a close, city leaders allowed a moratorium on this technology to expire. The temporary halt was put in place in June 2021. However, some activists and one city leader worry that the use of the technology can lead to even more punitive scrutiny on Baltimore residents, especially Black ones. 

“I have likened it to a virtual stop and frisk,” City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett told Charles. Burnett is now working on legislation that could regulate the use of the technology.

Keeping with the theme of the overpolicing of Black people, in this issue, we also examine the inauguration of new Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates. Megan Kenny and Angela Burneko of Baltimore Courtwatch have spent a lot of time observing how the State’s Attorney’s Office handled the prosecution of adults and children in this city with Marylyn Mosby as its leader. In this issue, they wonder how Bates might tackle the job.

In our news roundup, we examine some of the things Bates has already promised to do. In his inaugural address, he spoke of providing people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law with wraparound services—while also taking a tough-on-crime approach. 

“Let’s be clear, as a Black man, I witnessed the criminal justice system unfairly incarcerate Black men and women at a staggering level,” he told inauguration attendees at Baltimore’s War Memorial on January 3. “So please know this: we will not go back to the era of mass incarceration.” 

The streets don’t just belong to the powerful or to the police—they are ours. In this issue, Arts and Culture Editor Teri Henderson wrote about new public art on display on the 300 and 400 blocks of Howard Street. The pieces were created by familiar and talented faces: Bryan Robinson of The Black Genius Art Show, SHAN Wallace, Takia Ross, Wickerham & Lomax, and You Wu. Also, our film critic, Domic Griffin, writes about the shortcomings of “The Whale,” which stars Brendan Fraser.

Finally, we are proud to offer you a new feature: our community resource guide. In this list, which will appear in every issue, we will connect you with resources and support systems that you may not know are available. Have something you want us to add to the list? Email support@baltimorebeat.com.

Happy New Year and welcome back to Baltimore Beat.

Lisa Snowden

Lisa Snowden is Editor-in-Chief and cofounder of Baltimore Beat. Previously, she was an editor at Baltimore City Paper, Baltimore Sun, and The Real News...