With violent crime in several Baltimore neighborhoods taking a turn for the worse in recent weeks, police are shifting about 70 officers from desk duty and into patrol cars to try to curtail shootings, robberies, and homicides, says the Baltimore Sun. Shootouts and vendettas between rival drug gangs, turf wars between budding Bloods gang sects and robberies, some as part of gang initiations, have fueled the violence. “Each time we have a crime spike, we want to make sure we’re doing the most we can to put the cops out on the street,” said deputy commissioner Marcus Brown said. About a recent spate of shootings, he said.
Violent crime in Baltimore has declined over the past several years and, across the city as of Sept. 30, is 6 percent lower than last year. But shootings are up 11 percent and robberies have risen 8 percent over last year. As of yesterday, the city had recorded 216 homicides, compared with 208 for the same period last year. Flooding the streets with more officers from desk jobs is not a new tactic in Baltimore. For years, the Police Department has undertaken such temporary initiatives to help reverse crime trends. In this latest measure, the additional officers will stay in the patrol force for 30 days. Typically, such initiatives come during the summer or near the end of the year, as police work to improve year-end crime statistics.