As homicides and shootings have soared in Baltimore this year, so has the number of people shot by city police officers, says the Baltimores Sun. Three shootings last week brought the number of people shot by officers this year to 24, including nine fatally, higher than in each of the four previous years. In 2006, city officers shot 15 people, five of them fatally. In 2005, officers shot 14, including four fatally, and in 2004, police shot eight people, killing one of them. The homicide toll is 223 – 29 more than last year.
Police officials give several possible explanations for the increase: more gang activity and brazen criminals, and officers being pushed to arrest more known violent offenders to curtail homicides. Comparing police-involved shootings in Baltimore with other cities is difficult. These incidents, unlike other crime-related incidents, are not tracked by the federal government, and several cities contacted by The Sun said a formal written request is required before such information is released. “That’s something we have been fighting for decades,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist at Washington State University. “Why isn’t there a national reporting system? Most departments collect the data, but there’s no repository.”