Baltimore Police call on federal agents to target 'baddest of the bad' to fight summer crime surge

In an effort to control violence over the summer, the Baltimore police plan to lean on federal law enforcement agencies to target a list of offenders that Commissioner Gary Tuggle called the “baddest of the bad.”

Tuggle and Mayor Catherine E. Pugh held a news conference at City Hall Monday to lay out what was billed as a “summer surge” to tackle crime. But officials provided few details about what form the aid from federal agencies would take.

“We understand what the summer months look like, as the days get longer, more people on the street, we want to make sure that we’re in front of the violence,” Pugh said.

Monday’s announcement came after a weekend in which five people were killed and seven others were shot in Baltimore, including a man who was fatally shot in Reservoir Hill.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office said officials there had no announcements planned for this week, and officials at local federal law enforcement offices either could not be reached or said they had no new details to share.

Todd Edwards, a spokesman for the Baltimore office of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said he had no specific information available about extra help for Baltimore police but said he expected an announcement in the next week or two.

“We assist whenever requested,” said David Lutz, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service.

Tuggle said police had drawn up a list of offenders to target in partnership with federal agents, but declined to identify them.

“We’re not going to be shy about it,” Tuggle said. “We’re going to use those partnerships and be aggressive with identifying the worst of the worst.”

Pugh said the aim was to get suspects prosecuted in the federal system, where sentences tend to be longer.

“You know what the laws are here, federal laws are a little bit stronger,” the mayor said.

After a meeting at the U.S. attorney’s office last week, Gov. Larry Hogan said state police would be working with local authorities and federal agencies to launch a new “strike force” in Baltimore. Pugh said the city police’s “summer surge” was discussed as part of that meeting.

Violent crime rates are down across almost every category from the historic levels the city endured last year. But Pugh said she wanted to be prepared.

“These are the months crime begins to increase, as we all know, the numbers will escalate,” Pugh said. “So what we want to do is make sure we’re getting in front of it.”

Asked what is being done to help juveniles stay safe in the summer, Pugh said work and recreational programs will be available for young people who aren’t in school over the summer.

The Democratic mayor highlighted Youth Works, a summer job program that has enrolled about 9,000 people, and expanded hours at city recreation centers. Pugh said Roca, an anti-violence program targeting the most troubled young people, also is expected to launch by the end of July.

As the summer begins, there have been 130 homicides so far in 2018 — six of them of people under age 18.

Gun violence in the city last summer was among the worst periods in city history, forcing school officials to help students confront a traumatic reality that many of their classmates were not returning because they had been killed, wounded or incarcerated.

Eleven juveniles had been killed by September, up from nine at the same point in 2016 but down from 16 in 2015. Twenty-five juveniles had been shot and wounded by the end of last summer.

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