This year has been the bloodiest, most violent in Baltimore for a generation with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and now two chiefs of police struggling for solutions. But now, federal agents are embedding with the Baltimore police department in the hopes of putting an end to the out-of-control violence.
City officials have reported that 10 federal agents are now joining the Baltimore PD in order to get a handle on the mounting murder rate. These 10 agents are in addition to the 20 ATF agents already working Baltimore’s streets.
Members of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the U.S. Secret Service are set to join the police in what Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis called a “flipping of the script of sorts.”
With a homicide case clearance of only 36 percent, the Baltimore police are hoping that the federal resources the various agents can bring to bear will help them solve some of the other nearly 200 murder cases racked up thus far this year.
Interim Chief Davis told the media that the ATF agents already on the ground are helping the city “to connect guns, to connect shell casings and to identify suspects.”
The Baltimore Sun reports that with 45 killed in July alone, the city hasn’t seen such a high murder rate since 1972 when 42 died.
“No previous year has had two months with more than 40 killings,” The Sun reported on Sunday, “and the 116 killed from April to July is a three-month high in data kept since 1970.”
Davis also announced a department reorganization in the hopes that a new chain of command would improve the city’s law enforcement services.
The city has struggled to rebuild itself after the riots earlier this year bedeviled the city and caused an already growing distrust between the police department and the city’s government to split wide open.
After it became widely rumored that Mayor Rawlings-Blake ordered police to “stand down” in order to allow the rioters “the space to destroy” the city, suspicion of many Baltimore police began to grow that the city might make them a scapegoat.
Sure enough, in the weeks after the last of the riots, city officials began to claim that the Baltimore police had engaged in a slowdown, allowing violence and crime to surge—a charge that police denied.
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