Baltimore Police beef up patrols, cancel leave amid spike in violence

Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle announced increased patrols across the city and the cancellation of leave for officers over the next three days in response to the recent spate of violence.

There were 37 homicides in September, making it the deadliest month since May 2017, when 38 people were killed. Two more people were killed in separate shootings Monday.

“We have made some significant changes in terms of how we are deploying over the next couple of days,” Tuggle said at a news conference at police headquarters Monday afternoon.

He said some officers have been reassigned from other duties to patrol in areas where there has historically been violence, and also where investigators believe there could be retaliatory violence.

“We’ve scrubbed this building for personnel who can be on the street,” he said.

Officers won’t be allowed to take leave for the next three days unless it’s an emergency situation, Tuggle said. Those who had previously scheduled leave will still be allowed to take that time off, but leave requested during this period will not be allowed, police said.

The department has cancelled leave for officers in the past, including for the city’s Pride festival in 2017, which took place a year after the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Florida. Leave was also canceled during the trials for the officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

Tuggle said Monday that some of the killings this past month have been random, some have resulted from robberies, some were tied to disputes and at least two killings were domestic in nature.

The killings have touched neighborhoods across the city, including areas that seldom see homicides. Last week, 25-year-old Timothy Moriconi was fatally shot in the 1200 block of Riverside Avenue in South Baltimore while walking home from a relative’s house.

Police said Monday they believe he was killed during a robbery, but they released no additional details.

Tuggle said the department is also “leveraging federal partnerships” to see what intelligence those agencies can provide to identify connections and the likelihood of retribution in killings.

To free up officers, Tuggle also encouraged residents with non-emergencies to use 311 or make reports through the telephone reporting unit, where citizens can report minor incidents.

In discussing the new deployments, Tuggle lamented that the department does not have enough officers.

“This goes to a much more systemic issue that we are having. We simply don’t have enough police. That’s the bottom line,“ he said.

While the adjustments this week will cost the department more overtime, Tuggle said, “we have to do it.”

Tuggle also said that while police will attempt to curb the violence, he said they cannot fully prevent it.

“It’s important to underscore you can’t control human behavior at the end of the day. You can try and get in front of the actions that somebody might take, but in terms of dictating human behavior, it’s almost impossible,” he said.

“If somebody is intent on pulling the trigger against somebody else, it’s probably going to happen. But the deployments that we are doing are meant to sort of intercede, or disrupt, what might be going on.”

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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