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Maryland

Transcript: Police Department "will increase the resources" in the Western District

The recent spike in violence in West Baltimore, including a triple murder Tuesday, has raised concerns not only among city officials, but residents as well.

Eugene, who wouldn’t give his last name, lives half a block from the murder scene - across the street from an elementary school. He called police plans to increase their presence in his neighborhood “a moment’s pleasure,” saying that the violence will return after police leave. The neighborhood is so dangerous, he says, that he has to walk his wife to the bus stop, across the street from his home.

People are afraid to walk through the neighborhood, you know, because of the violence, you know. Sometimes, I think myself they might approach me. I might come out and go to the store or something like that, but I got to go back into the house. I don’t know what might happen.

Eugene says that he is about to move soon for financial reasons, but adds that it couldn’t be a better time for him to do so.

If I got to be a prisoner in my house by living in this block, I’m moving.

But Eugene is not the only person worried about the violence.  Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake raised the issue Wednesday morning as she presented a $2.4 billion budget to the City Council. Despite the spike in West Baltimore, she said that overall crime statistics are trending downward.

If you can look at things like the clearance rate which shows how well the officers are not just making the arrest but responding but then following up with the investigations. Those numbers are improving.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts spoke to the Council’s public safety committee Tuesday.

Our spike is clearly in the Western; we’ve been aware of that for the last three months. Like I said we’ve spent a tremendous amount of time; I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time out on streets over there. We will increase the resources and the numbers in that area and we will increase our activity there.

Police are concentrating in the general area east of Mondawmin Mall and Coppin State University, where eight murders have occurred since Sunday. Deputy Commissioner John Skinner said police have been developing plans to combat the violence.

We identified some persons of interest related to it, we’ve created an enforcement plan and our goal over the next couple of days and weeks is to provide some stability with a lot of foot officers and uniform presence while the investigations really extract these violent individuals from the neighborhoods.

Police officials assured council members that while they are adding resources to the Western District, it will not be at the expense of any of the other eight police districts in the city.

Colonel Dean Palmere head of the Investigations and Intelligence Division, told the committee that while they have made arrests in 90 percent of non-fatal shooting cases in the Western district, they have only cleared 18 percent of their murder cases.

Now that doesn’t mean to say we don’t have persons of interest in those other murder case; but we need additional cooperation. We need additional information from the community; we need additional information from our partners.

Palmere said that they are looking at social media trends in addition to strengthening their relationship with Metro Crime Stoppers to generate leads in the open murder cases. Police academy recruits are canvassing the neighborhood Wednesday afternoon for tips in the triple murder.