Joint warrant initiative targets violent offenders in Baltimore

May 31, 2011|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

State officials have invested more manpower and money in an effort to get the most violent offenders sought on warrants off Baltimore's streets.

Added Maryland state troopers will join the Warrant Apprehension Task Force, a collaboration of law enforcement agencies, through June in seeking Baltimore suspects in violent crimes such as robbery, assault, gun and sex offenses, domestic violence and more.

A grant of nearly $152,000 from the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention will cover overtime costs for the Summer Jumpstart Warrant Initiative.

Eight squads of state and local officers began searching Tuesday morning for 1,000 people identified as the most serious offenders, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a news conference.

"By doing so we'll send a strong message to people of Baltimore that we are working very hard and working very smart to make our streets safer," she said.

Added Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III: "We didn't just pull 1,000 warrants" randomly. Instead, police focused on the "baddest of the bad" to maximize the impact of the grant and the manpower, he said.

Outstanding warrants in Baltimore number in the tens of thousands, according to police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi.

Juveniles will be part of the target group, including those wanted for violent crimes and others that police have identified as potential victims. Last year, more than 5,000 juveniles were arrested in the city, Guglielmi said, and there are now about 120 outstanding warrants for youths.

Although juvenile crime is down overall — hitting a 40-year low last year, according to Bealefeld — last week's fatal shooting of Sean Johnson, a 12-year-old watching television on a Northeast Baltimore porch, shows "we have a lot of work to do," the commissioner said.

He called the boy's death "a horrible tragedy, not just for his family but for the city" and urged community members to assist in the case. No arrests have been made.

"This is a neighborhood crime," Bealefeld said. "This is a crime committed by other guys that live in that geographic region. They didn't parachute in that night. They were from there. … They were not invisible that night, and they are not invisible now."

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