Cognizant of the public looking on, Tapp-Harper started to describe a sensitive strategy and got the "cut it off" sign from a smiling Batts.

Maj. Johnny Delgado, the commander of the Northwestern District, was also asked how a shooting could have occurred in his district despite the area being well-trafficked. Delgado responded that two officers were working a foot patrol beat just one block away.

"When you talk about putting people where the crime is, that's pretty close," Delgado, saying the deployment has generally helped tamp down crime in that area.

With strong support in the audience from his district, Delgado told police brass - and Rawlings-Blake, who joined the meeting during his time - that he needed more resources. The question came after Batts asked what had changed in the district to cause a spike in homicides.

"What we lost was very basic part of policing: we lost the ominpresence of cops," Delgado said. He explained that last year, he was able to identify eight "hot zones" in his district, and keep officers on them continuously. "This year, I haven't been able to do that," he said. In his district, "if you don't see a cop every three minutes, we'll have a problem."

Delgado said he's bracing for a seasonal spike in robberies in the areas around Reisterstown Plaza and described his plan. 

"We have a lot of work to do," Delgado said. "Every day is not a perfect day. But we'll continue on our relentless pursuit to catch these guys and put them in jail."

In his first comments as commissioner last month, Batts said that while continuing to reduce homicides is important, he also wanted to emphasize quality-of-life crimes that affect a broader swath of residents. With homicides picking up this month, much of his attention has been focused on that area and so did Thursday's Comstat.

But he took time at the end to tick off other types of crime that are on the decline, and promised residents that his public affairs office is at work on coming up with new ways to share information and interact with the community.

Phil Leaf, senior associate director of the Urban Health Institute at Johns Hopkins University and a Roland Park resident, was measured in his assessment of the meeting but found it positive overall.
"There seemed to be good rapport with the community that came out," he said.
Batts "seems personable and knows what he's talking about," Leaf added. "He's been here for two months. He seems to be off to a positive start."