Baltimore Police Commissioner Leonard D. Hamm promoted his crime-fighting plan to the City Council last night, but he said it will face a "decisive" test in the next few months -- a period when crime regularly increases with the temperatures.
After the hearing, Deputy Commissioner Marcus Brown said that in addition to the three high-crime areas that officers have been swarming since January, they have begun focusing on nine more areas. The department will spend $2 million in overtime to fill those areas through July with additional officers.
"We looked at shootings, homicides and robberies," Brown said. "We picked the areas where there are the greatest percentage of those things happening."
The new targeted areas are sprinkled across the city and include zones along Belair Road in Northeast Baltimore, around North and Pennsylvania avenues in West Baltimore, around Pratt and Pulaski streets in Southwest Baltimore and around the Barclay neighborhood, off the Greenmount corridor.
Some areas that regularly have one officer will have five or more, Brown said.
Hamm said that it will be crucial to continue to be successful through July. Based on data from the previous five years, police said that from April through July the average monthly homicide count is typically one-sixth higher than the rest of the year. Last year, May, June and July were three of the deadliest four months, police said.
Hamm implemented his crime-fighting plan at the end of January. It called for flooding three areas -- in East, West and Northwest Baltimore -- with more officers.
From February through April this year, the city recorded the lowest number of homicides for that period since 1982, police said. That statistic excludes January, during which the city recorded 32 homicides -- more than in February and March combined.
Council members requested last night's hearing before their public safety subcommittee to learn about Hamm's efforts since his confirmation as commissioner in March, after four months as acting commissioner.
During the hearing, Hamm promoted his program in which police districts have worked with 18 city schools. He also hinted at the expected announcement of a partnership that will include prosecutors, federal officials, religious groups and social services agencies.
One of his largest responsibilities, Hamm said, is to foster cooperation among law enforcement agencies.
"My role is simply to create a situation where ... everyone talks in a cooperative way and stops pointing fingers," he said.