Baltimore police will put more officers on the street to battle a surge in killings that included six homicides in seven hours this week, part of a wave of deadly violence not seen in the port city in years, authorities said on Tuesday.
Patrol officers and detectives will go on 12-hour shifts through the weekend, instead of the normal 10-hour stints, and all other officers will be placed in squad cars or on foot patrols, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said.
The six homicides raised the number of killings in the city of 620,000 people to 158 for the year. The pace is 27 percent ahead of that in 2015, when Baltimore notched its second-highest number of homicides this century, according to police figures.
“We’re just as angry and frustrated and ticked off about it as anyone else watching, and I expect people to be upset,” Davis said at a news conference.
The police commissioner said Baltimore was facing a lethal combination of drugs, guns and gangs as crime groups battled for turf. Officers this month seized 30 kg (66 pounds) of the opioid fentanyl and 15 kg (33 pounds) of heroin bound for West Baltimore, one of the deadliest gang battlegrounds, he said.
The overnight violence on Tuesday included a woman gunned down by a masked shooter and two people fatally shot in an apparent drug dispute, Davis said.
The East Coast city has increased coverage by officers during prior spikes in violence. Davis, who did not specify how many more officers would be on the streets, said officials would evaluate the effort’s results next week.
The violence comes as the Baltimore police department, the nation’s eighth biggest, is under a federal court order to remedy widespread civil rights abuses uncovered by a U.S. Justice Department review. The review was triggered by the 2015 death of a suspect from injuries in police custody that sparked arson and rioting.
Mayor Catherine Pugh, during activities last weekend dubbed “Call to Action,” urged city residents to do more to help combat crime, such as mentoring young people or giving ex-offenders jobs.
Baltimore’s rise in homicides has tracked an uptick in U.S. murders. Preliminary Federal Bureau of Investigation data shows a 5.2 percent increase of murders in the first half of 2016 from the year before.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)
LISTEN: Mourners sing ‘Amazing Grace’ outside the Supreme Court to celebrate Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Heartwarming videos were shared on social media on Friday night showing the spontaneous gathering at the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The large crowd, with many people wearing masks, sang the hymn "Amazing Grace."
Here are some of the videos of the scene:
A moving moments as dozens join in to sing “Amazing Grace” on the steps of the Supreme Court. pic.twitter.com/NGZyZi4YR4
— Mike Balsamo (@MikeBalsamo1) September 19, 2020
Here’s how Mitch McConnell could lose his leverage to replace Ginsburg after November
WATCH: Trump reveals how he can manipulate Democrats to help him put Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court
President Donald Trump spoke about his plans for the Supreme Court during a Friday night campaign rally in Bemidji, Minnesota.
Trump took the stage before news was announced that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died and appeared to not know of the Supreme Court vacancy.
Trump explained to his audience why he had put Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on his shortlist for a Supreme Court nomination.
“I said, you know, I have to have someone that we’re going sure we get approved and the only one I could think of is Ted, because he’s going to get 50 Republican votes and he’s going to get 50 Democrat votes — they’ll do anything to get him out of the Senate," Trump said.