Spike in homicides prompts city police to step up patrols

December 05, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Worried about a recent spike in killings, Baltimore police are flooding the streets this week with extra officers on overtime shifts and deploying others to trouble spots, officials said.

"They wanted to see if they could knock it down the first week of the month to set the tone for the rest of the month," said city police spokesman Matt Jablow of commanders' efforts to clamp down on crime.

The commanders lengthened the hours of two shifts of patrol officers in each district from eight-hour to 12-hour tours, with the extra four hours funded by overtime, Jablow said.

A third shift will continue to work the normal eight-hour day but can be used at the discretion of supervisors to target crime spikes, Jablow said.

The overtime deployment will last through tomorrow, Jablow said, and officials will then examine the strategy to see if it reduced crime. Last year, police spent several million dollars on overtime in the last three months of the year during similar deployments in some of the city's highest crime areas.

The city has endured 15 homicides in as many days - the latest last night when an unidentified man was gunned down in West Baltimore.

The victim - said by police to have used many aliases - was found bleeding from multiple wounds, at least one of them to the head, about 7:15 p.m. in the 1900 block of N. Dukeland St.

Through last month, overall crime is down 19 percent and violent crime is down 16 percent vs. the same period last year, police statistics show. Last night's shooting brought the city's homicide toll to 245 this year, vs. 237 during the same period last year.

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