For the third year in a row, Baltimore, MD, has had more than 300 murders, reaching a new record of murders per number of residents in 2017.

Some residents attribute the high murder rate to relaxed police patrols in the city following high-profile cases of police brutality, saying officers have backed off in neighborhoods, like the one where Freddie Gray was arrested, reports NPR.

The Rev. Kinji Scott, a pastor in Baltimore who's held positions in local city government, says the opposite needs to happen.

"We wanted the police there," Scott says. "We wanted them engaged in the community. We didn't want them beating the hell out of us, we didn't want that."

He's among activists who are calling for police reform to reduce the violence in Baltimore and several other high-crime cities across the U.S. that he says haven't seen change. That change begins with a conversation between the communities directly involved, Scott says.

"We need the front line police officers and we need the heart of the black community to step to the forefront of this discussion," he says. "And that's when we're going to see a decrease in crime."

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