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News Opinion

With heavy police presence, Sailabration unmarred by violence

Mingled throughout the thousands of visitors who flocked to the city this past weekend for the Star-Spangled Sailabration's ships, cannons and jet fly-bys was a small army of police officers and emergency responders.

Other local, state and federal law enforcement officials constantly monitored the crowds from command stations downtown, via live camera feeds.

Partly as a result, the event celebrating the bicentennial of the War of 1812, estimated to have attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the city, had largely come off without a hitch as of Sunday night, police said — unspoiled by the sort of violence that has marred other large events in recent years.

"We couldn't be happier," said Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman. "It's just very, very safe and enjoyable."

"The logistics were seamless, and everyone noticed," MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blakesaid. "Whoever I spoke to, one of the first things they wanted me to know was how well this was done."

Three bursts of gunfire in the city that left four wounded early Saturday all were outside the footprint of the celebration in the Inner Harbor, Federal Hill and Fort McHenry, where only minor incidents occurred, police said.

A police officer accidentally Tasered a fellow officer while breaking up a fight at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, and three people were taken to a local hospital after falling into the harbor near Ripley's Believe It or Not, police said. On Sunday, a woman suffered minor injuries in a boating accident near the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Guglielmi said there were "a couple alcohol-related issues" with rowdy revelers, and increased traffic, but "no incident of violence" — unlike past large events in Baltimore.

A 4-year-old boy was struck by a stray bullet and a man was stabbed to death following the Fourth of July fireworks display last summer. Police stepped up downtown patrols this summer after fighting broke out among hundreds of teens across the city onSt. Patrick's Day.

But police and other agencies learn lessons with each large event, Guglielmi said.

"We're getting better and better every time we have a big event," Rawlings-Blake agreed, "and I'm looking forward to doing more."

CityCouncilman William H. Cole IV, a Democrat who represents much of downtown and South Baltimore, credited police and firefighters with reassuring Sailabration visitors who had heard "sensationalized" accounts of Inner Harbor crime in recent months.

"The presence, I think, was welcome," Cole said. "It shows people that we can regularly host safe events."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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