The Baltimore Police Department has won more than $3 million in federal grant money to better trace the guns and bullets used in street crimes and to enhance record keeping online.
Officials are touting $750,000 of the grant money to help them establish a gun intelligence center. Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the money would pay for two new investigators, technology and training to track the movements of illegal guns throughout the city.
“We can use analytics and data to tie guns to other crimes and tie guns to people,” he said. “This is a big deal. This means to the men and women of the department that resources are actually coming in to help us.”
That grant money comes from the U.S. Department of Justice. The city intelligence center will be staffed by two new hires who will rely on federal databases of guns and ballistics evidence to track the guns. Commanders have not yet decided where to locate the tracing center, Harrison said.
The grant money was open to cities grappling with a surge in violent crime. Baltimore has suffered more than 300 homicides in each of the past four years. The two new gun trackers will hunt for connections in the hundreds of shootings that afflict Baltimore each year.
“It gives us the capacity to move faster than relying on the crime lab alone,” Harrison said.
Federal law enforcement agencies continue to send money and manpower to help Baltimore stem the rise in street violence. Two weeks ago, federal, city and suburban agencies gathered to announce that they were teaming up to go after Baltimore drug dealers and their Mexican and Dominican suppliers. And last month, federal prosecutors indicted 90 people on gun and drug charges in Baltimore, accusing them of pouring heroin, fentanyl and cocaine into the city.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the new grant money will help the department upgrade its systems for online record keeping. The commissioner said the department received a federal grant of about $2.6 million to help it comply with changes to federal guidelines for crime reporting online.