Baltimore Fourth of July revelers to see heavy police presence

Baltimore police are gearing up for an estimated influx of 200,000 people into the city for Independence Day.

Acting Commissioner Anthony E. Barksdale held a news conference Tuesday to emphasize that the city is prepared.

"We're working very hard to ensure that we're ready," said Barksdale, who also publicly acknowledged that he would like to succeed his former boss, Frederick H. Bealefeld III, as commissioner.

Barksdale said he had turned in his resume but was not offended by Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings-Blake's decision to conduct a national search for a new top cop.

"If I get it, I'll be happy. If I don't get it, I'll be happy," he said.

Barksdale said those concerned about safety after violence during last year's July Fourth celebration and St. Patrick's Day this year need look no further than last month's Sailabration festivities.

"Nobody's talking about Sailabration," he said, an event that had no incidents of violence.

Barksdale and Deputy Commissioner John Skinner explained the decision to use "bike racks" instead of 6-foot-high fences introduced during last year's New Year's Eve fireworks to control crowds and curb violence.

"There was no criticism" of the higher fence, Barksdale said. "There's always the concern of a crowd press — if you get crowd-pressed into that fence." He explained that a waist-high, bike rack fence still helps coordinate traffic flow but offers a way out in the event of an overcrowding emergency.

State police and Maryland Transportation Authority Police will aid Baltimore officers in patrolling the Inner Harbor area. Officers equipped with BlackBerrys with GPS trackers will enable the department to effectively cover downtown, Barksdale said.

"We have more resources than in previous years," he said. "And we'll be moving resources around."

In the event of violence or troublemakers, Barksdale said, "we're just not tolerating it."

"We wish people were adult and conducted themselves the right way," he said. "But if they don't, we're going to do our job."

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad