BALTIMORE — “I’m a resident of this city, and I would definitely would like to see this crime alleviated,”’ said Bernard Dutton, who owns a barber shop in East Baltimore.
So far for 2019, 151 people have been murdered in Baltimore .
From Saturday, June 22 to Monday, June 24, more than a dozen people were shot and seven of them were killed. This caused the Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison to speak up. He held a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Commissioner Harrison began by saying in all the deaths from the weekend, the victim was somehow acquainted with the shooter.
“Often times our officers are in the right places but violent crimes are being committed anyway, which speaks to a certain culture of violence where criminals don’t fear consequences,” said Commissioner Harrison.
He said for the last few weeks they’ve been analyzing crime data for the city finding out where the majority of the violent crimes are committed. Those areas have been identified as microzones, and more officers have been deployed to those areas. Those officers have to walk around for 20 minutes, three times during their shift.
Commissioner Harrison said this past weekend they deployed about a dozen officers to the Eastern District since that area has had a lot of crime. He said, “it’s just a smart deployment strategy to use the data to dictate where we should and when we should be here.”
It's a strategy some in the community have a question about, like Dutton and one of his clients.
“If we’re moving them, what does that say to the other neighborhoods,” Dutton said. "Is it really handling the issues or is the problem just moving on giving us the thought, 'yes it’s being handled.'”
Commissioner Harrison answered that in the press conference stating, “even though it was displaced, it was deterred from the area it was originally supposed to be in, and we can always reassess and redeploy.”
Daniel Goodman, Dutton’s client, asked the Commissioner if it was realistic for them to move people around when they are having staffing issues, to which Commissioner Harrison responded saying he’s optimistic about the work of his personnel.
Both men have their questions and doubts but are hopeful for change. They said they want more to be done.
“It’s a trend every year the murder rate goes higher and higher,” Goodman said. "It’s the biggest clouds lingering over Baltimore City. It’d be great to get a handle on it.”
Goodman also hopes to see the officers working on engaging with the community, something Commissioner Harrison said is part of the plan.
“Increasing the presence in the community without changing the perception could be another hurdle,” Goodman said.
Commissioner Harrison also encouraged community members to come forward with information when they see any type of crime. He said if people don’t come forward these crimes will keep happening. “We're asking for the citizens, especially the victims and witnesses, cooperation in helping us solve these crimes because these people are becoming more emboldened and then they're committing further shootings on other people,” said Commissioner Harrison.
The Commissioner said they plan on re-evaluating the microzone plan as time goes on and that this plan is just part of the crime reduction strategy that must be submitted to the state by August.
Commissioner Harrison said the rest of the strategy will be laid out at a later date.