Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said trigger-pullers in the city are becoming increasingly brazen, with shootings involving multiple victims becoming more common amid an overall rise in violent crime.
“We have more incidents where the offender shot more people,” he told members of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, hours after police were called to a triple shooting in East Baltimore.
Council members questioned Harrison about the increased violence reported in the city for the first three months of this year.
Harrison said there already have been four quadruple shootings so far this year, compared to none at the same time last year. There also were three shooting incidents with three victims, and 21 with two victims, accounting for 27% of the 245 people shot so far this year.
At the same time last year, there were five shootings with three victims and 13 with two victims, accounting for 21% of all shooting victims, he said.
Just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, three men, ages 32, 34, and 37, were struck by gunfire on Broadway near Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, police said. At least 28 shell casings were counted at the scene behind a wide ribbon of yellow police tape.
Harrison said an off-duty police officer was working as a Hopkins security guard when the officer called the shooting into police dispatch.
Earlier this month, a 72-year-old man was among four people shot along a busy stretch of Liberty Heights Avenue in Howard Park. Three other men — Darian Savoy and Timothy Brown Jr., both 26, and Jawan Hall, 25 — all died in the same March 12 incident. Police have not release a motive in that shooting.
In January, DaShawn McGrier, a Safe Streets violence interrupter at McElderry Park, was one of four people shot on E. Monument Street. He was killed, as were Tyrone Allen, 28, and Hassan Smith, 24. A fourth man survived.
Overall, homicides are up 11% and nonfatal shootings are up 30% since the start of the year.
“Right now people do not feel safe,” Councilman Eric Costello told the commissioner at the meeting.
Costello expressed concern that not enough was being done to hold those committing violence accountable, including those responsible for carjackings and robberies, which also have increased.
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“There needs to be a set of certain consequences and those certain consequences do not currently exist in our city,” the councilman said.
He said too often officers complain they make arrests, but those individuals soon are back out on the streets. He asked Harrison to “put pressure on our partners” in other parts of the criminal justice system to make sure violent criminals are held responsible.
Councilman Antonio Glover questioned the department about its latest staffing levels. The department is down 353 officers from what is budgeted. Currently, there are 2,122 sworn officers.
“We are critically short in every part of our agency,” Harrison told the council.
But department officials said they have revived a police recruitment marketing campaign to increase its ranks.
Previously, the department announced a new contract with the police officers’ union that would increase starting salaries for new officers and other benefits for those who remain in patrol and earn degrees. The salary changes make Baltimore the highest paying major law enforcement agency in the state for new recruits.
But the numbers of recruits dipped from 224 in 2020 to 184 last year. There have been 24 recruits hired so far this year. Those hires have not outpaced attrition with 223 officers leaving in 2020, 294 in 2021, and already 65 this year.