More than two hundred police officers will be deployed in the downtown harbor area for the Fourth of July holiday, including officers from the transit authority and traffic control units, Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said.
Despite the heightened and concentrated policing in the tourist destination, Harrison said at a press conference on Wednesday, no officers will be pulled from their districts to ensure “a very heavy, robust, staffing across the districts.”
As Fourth of July draws near, city officials reminded residents and visitors that fireworks, sparklers, and celebratory gunfire are illegal at all times.
“I know fireworks and sparklers are some of the major attractions for the Fourth of July holiday,” Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young a said, “but they are illegal in the city of Baltimore and they are extremely dangerous.”
There were around 9,100 fireworks-related injuries in 2018, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, over half of which occurred around the July 4th holiday.
“People also think sparklers aren’t that dangerous,” Fire Chief Niles R. Ford said, “but sparklers go up to 2,000 degrees and even after sparklers have gone out, they’re still hot.”
Last year, an 11-year-old from Ann Arundel County was sent to the hospital during an Independence Day celebration, from sparkler-related burns to her wrist and abdomen.
New police technology will also be employed across the city to ensure safety, such as the Citiwatch cameras and ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system. The police commissioner said the ShotSpotter tool has improved since its inception and is able to largely distinguish gun fire from firecrackers.
While police officers will keep an eye out for illegal use of fireworks and sparklers, Harrison said the Baltimore Police Department wants to be “smart” with their approach.
“We won’t over enforce,” Harrison said, ”but we’ll be enforcing it.