July 13–Top police officials and prosecutors in Baltimore have partnered with several federal law enforcement agencies and the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to create an around-the-clock “war room” to address the city’s recent uptick in violent crime.
Multiple criminal groups have already been identified as top targets of the effort, officials said Sunday, but those groups were not identified.
“We are pushing for an all-hands-on-deck approach to this current surge in violence,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We know that crime is not static. Neither can we be. It is important for us to work together and recommit ourselves to that collaboration every single day in order for us to get on top of this crime spike.”
In May, the city saw the largest number of homicides in a single month in 25 years, with 42. Between Friday and Sunday, there were 15 people shot, including six who died — among them a man shot early Friday morning who died over the weekend.
Others among the 15 shooting victims were in critical condition Sunday.
Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, who was appointed to lead the department on Wednesday following Rawlings-Blake’s dismissal of Commissioner Anthony Batts, said the “war room” — a singular operational center where all of the partner agencies will work as one — will “ensure there are no gaps in our intelligence sharing, no gaps in our operational capacities, and no gaps in our overall commitment to identify the small number of folks who are harming our communities.”
Davis said they’ve already identified “four different groups of bad guys who are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violence in Baltimore City, and we’re going to work around the clock until we get to the point of probable cause to start taking those folks off the streets.
“The citizens of this city deserve nothing less.”
In addition to Rawlings-Blake’s administration and the Baltimore Police, participants in the effort include the offices of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein; the FBI; the DEA; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the U.S. Marshals Service.
Mosby said the agencies involved have a “proven track record” of getting results in the city’s crime fight when they focus on collaborative efforts.
“We intend to share data. We intend to co-locate to address the immediate needs of violence in our city,” Mosby said. “We have identified individuals that we are going to go after, and we have shown in the past that when we work together collaboratively, we will get these individuals off our streets. It’s proven.”
Asked whether the “war room” language could be the wrong language to use at at time when there is increased tension between the police department and the broader community following recent unrest in the city, Davis said that might not be the right language but that the effort is geared in the right direction — with the well-being of the community in mind.
Mosby did not shy away from the “war room” language.
“We are essentially declaring war on those individuals with no code of ethics killing women and killing children,” Mosby said. “We are going to war, and we’re going to do it collaboratively.”
Davis said the command center will be staffed by police commanders around the clock and will be “in place as long as it needs to be in place and until we start identifying and arresting those folks that are harming this city.”
The police department already spends more than $30 million per year on overtime.
Asked what the new effort will cost and where the funding will come from, Rawlings-Blake said the partner agencies expect to work in a “more efficient and effective way” using existing resources.
“This is putting the players who are already in the fight together in the same place to work together, so I don’t anticipate having a larger price tag,” she said. “It’s just about working together differently and more effectively.”
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