Baltimore’s Acting Police Commissioner, Leonard Hamm, shook up his top command staff yesterday, as five more people were killed in a rash of violence that has claimed 26 victims in the first 20 days of the year, the Baltimore Sun says. “It’s been a bad day, a bad month so far,” said Mayor Martin O’Malley. “We hope to finish it stronger than it’s begun. We’re resolved and we’re resolute, and we’re moving forward and we’re doing everything we possibly can.”
In an attempt to combat the increased number of homicides and shootings in particular neighborhoods, police created three new target areas. Officials said the killings appear to be unrelated. “Every night, every weekend this year, it’s like Baghdad,” said one resident. Hamm said police tactics have cut into dealers’ profits, forcing them to try to collect debts and sparking more shootings. Most of this year’s victims match the characteristics of last year’s, when nearly 90 percent of the homicide suspects and victims had criminal records. Most of those records connect the killings to the city’s drug industry.