BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Midway through 2021, the city is on track to record 300 homicides for the seventh year in a row. Charm City is expected to have over 1,000 shoots by the end of the year.
The members of the municipal council are outraged. Many are asking questions about accountability within police services and asking what is being done differently to stop this horrific trend.
READ MORE: 5 injured, 1 killed in mass shooting in West Baltimore on Wednesday
Commissioner Michael Harrison adopted a tiered plan two years ago and is focused on getting rid of illegal guns on the streets, ending domestic violence – which has been on the rise since the pandemic – and targeting the city’s most violent offenders so that they can be arrested and prosecuted.
Councilor Eric Costello, representative for District 11, said enough is enough: “The crime is off the hook in this town and it is unacceptable.
At the start of the city council hearing, Councilor Mark Conway paused for a moment of silence to honor the 166 homicide victims taken in 2021.
“We cannot lose sight of the simple fact that lives are being lost right now,” Conway said. “Neighborhoods are suffering now, and we are on track for a staggering seventh consecutive year of more than 300 homicides.”
A mass shooting in West Baltimore on June 16 left one dead and injured five others. This is just one of the many violent incidents plaguing the city.
As of June 26, 2021, 5,686 people have been arrested for crimes against the city. At the same time in 202, that number was 7,400.
Baltimore Police officials said the number is lower as they focus more effort and resources on locking up the most violent offenders and non-violent misdemeanors / felonies don’t lead to as many arrests.
Recruitment and retention remains a problem for BPD, which has been operating without enough agents for some time.
READ MORE: More criminals are using ‘ghost’ guns to commit violent crimes in Baltimore, making it difficult for police to follow up
Commissioner Harrison said it was now a comprehensive approach.
“We use detectives and administrative officers to modulate the size of the patrol force so that we can be in more places, answer more calls, have more visibility,” Harrison said.
It’s been four years since the consent decree was enacted and two years since Commissioner Harrison implemented his criminal plan, so Costello believes the changes should be noticeable and they aren’t.
“For us to suggest that what we’re doing is working is wrong,” Costello said.
District 1 City Councilor Zeke Cohen said seven cars were smashed and broken into in Canton on Wednesday evening. Cohen said the officer who came out was not going to fingerprint the scene.
Commissioner Harrison explained that not all non-violent crimes warrant even an officer showing up in person.
“While people are concerned about violent crime, there are also significant property crimes,” Cohen said.
Harrison and the Baltimore Police Department are urging citizens to file cases and file complaints online or by phone because an officer may not answer all calls for service, if they are not violent.
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To learn more about online filing, visit https://www.baltimorepolice.org/file-police-report