Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has announced increased police patrols in 27 areas in Baltimore in an attempt to contain an anticipated increase in crime during the holidays.
The city already has seen a 15.7 increase in violent crimes during the first three quarters of this year.
Clinton Coleman, the mayor's press secretary, said the economic downturn has caused some concern that criminal activity might increase more during the holiday season.
"We always see an increase in burglaries, breaking and enterings and robberies during the Christmas season," he said. "He wanted to head off that possibility."
Coleman said the holiday patrol normally begins the first Monday after Thanksgiving. But this deployment began last night -- two weeks early -- and is expected to run until Jan. 2.
The number breaks down to three extra foot-patrol posts for each of the city's nine police districts, said Dennis Hill, a police spokesman.
Fourteen of the areas are residential and 13 are commercial, Hill said. The officers will work evenings and receive overtime pay.
Coleman said it will cost the city $70,000 for the extra work hours.
The areas to be patrolled are various city locations where serious crimes, including robberies, burglaries and assaults, are frequent, Hill said.
During the first three quarters of this year, violent crimes in the city rose 15.7 percent, police reported.
Homicides increased by 14.2 percent, to 225 from 197 at the same time last year. Rapes rose 24 percent; last year, there were 405 reported rapes, compared with 502 through September of this year. Aggravated assaults rose 12.7 percent, to 5,818 from 5,161.
Robberies increased 17.9 percent, to 6,594 from 5,592 at the same time last year. And auto thefts increased 24.6 percent, to 7,263 from 5,830.