Baltimore Sees Warrant Arrests As Crime Prevention Tool


In a spate of violence last fall, Baltimore officials drew up a list of more than 500 offenders with open warrants, says the Baltimore Sun. They moved them to the front of the line – regardless of the severity of the charge – if they were involved with a gang, had prior handgun or aggravated assault charges, or had been shot at or witnessed a violent crime, among other criteria. Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III said it is part of an evolving effort to curb violence through arrests. In the 1980s, police determined violent offenders were best snapped up through drug arrests. Later, they focused greater attention on individuals charged in homicides and nonfatal shootings who were still on the streets.

Bealefeld said many open warrants involving minor offenses need to be served anyway and which could also help defuse volatile situations. Homicide suspects, at-risk juveniles and domestic-violence offenders remain top police concerns, but police say the new formula has helped them prioritize those lesser warrants. “I’m trying to avoid more violence in this city on every front possible,” Bealefeld said. “If it keeps kids from being victims of homicide, I want to do that. If its finding more suspects quickly, I want to do that. We need to attack violence, and in our lane we’re going to use everything at our disposal.” A warrant team heads out each day before dawn, hoping to catch suspects off-guard. Their loud knocking causes more than a few curious neighbors to pop their heads out of bedroom windows to see what the commotion is about.

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