Amid violence spike, Baltimore Police commissioner sends administrative officers to patrol streets

About 230 Baltimore police officers assigned to administrative duties will leave their offices for patrol work as the police department seeks to combat a spike in violence across the city.

Baltimore Police Department Interim Commissioner Gary Tuggle has temporarily shut down administrative operations at police headquarters and in every district, he said at a news conference Wednesday. Those officers have been reassigned to the streets, bringing the number of police patrolling the city to about 650, he said.

Tuggle said he’s disturbed by recent violence in the city. On Tuesday alone, 11 people were shot and three died.

“It’s just not acceptable, and one of the common denominators that we’re seeing with this violence is drugs,” Tuggle said. “We’ve gotten to a point where we’ve become desensitized to levels of violence in this city that are just totally, totally unacceptable.”

The additional officers will remain on patrol as long as they are needed, Tuggle said — “until we can no longer sustain not having those administrative functions done.”

Tuggle said the department ultimately hopes to transition some administrative duties to civilians. He did not specify which departments would see the majority of its staff leave their offices for patrol work.

“There are gonna be a number of things that don’t get done, but right now patrol is the priority,” Tuggle said.

City police will also work with local, state and federal law enforcement partners including Maryland State Police, the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office, Baltimore County Police Department, Maryland Transit Administration Police and Maryland Transportation Authority Police to tackle crime, Tuggle said.

“It’s really sad when in certain pockets of our city where this level of violence become acceptable,” Tuggle said. “And it’s just gonna stop. It’s gonna have to stop.”

Baltimore has seen 250 homicides so far in 2018. Forty-four of those killings have occurred in the last 30 days.

“Every resident of the city of Baltimore deserves an effective police service. We’ve got the responsibility to provide that,” Tuggle said. “This level of violence is no more tolerable to us than it is to those residents, and I want to assure them that we’re going to do our damnedest to address it.”

smeehan@baltsun.com

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