Baltimore Police Chief Links Recent Crime Wave to Staff Shortages, Gang Violence

By Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
June 23, 2021 Updated: June 23, 2021

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison has blamed a rise in violent crime and homicides in the most populous city in Maryland on “a number of issues,” including a shortage in staff.

Harrison noted during an interview with CNN on June 22 that just like New York and other big cities across the country, Baltimore is seeing a spike in violence, with 18 homicides recorded in the past 10 days alone.

“It’s a number of issues; it’s grouping gang violence; it’s retaliation from previous bad acts,” he said.

“But we are seeing an increase in close acquaintance shootings and domestic violence shootings where people just have absolutely poor or no conflict resolution skills and are using guns to solve their conflicts.”

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Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, center, and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, second from right, confer at the scene of a deadly shooting in Baltimore, Md. on June 16, 2021. (Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

Harrison also noted that he hopes the police force in the city, which is about 230 officers short of its current budget, will see more “boots on the ground” to fight the crime spike and homicides.

“We are hiring, we are recruiting,” Harrison said. “We are using every resource available, we’re using all the time to force up and plus up the number so we can have more officers.”

While stressing the dire need for more officers, the chief also said additional personnel isn’t just good for improving law enforcement in the city, but it’s also needed to “build those relationships” within the community, noting that the department needs the community’s help in solving murders so that bad actors can be held accountable for “terrorizing our community.”

The comments come as President Joe Biden plans to lay out new steps to stem a rising national tide of violent crime, with a particular focus on shootings, as administration officials brace for what they fear could be an especially turbulent summer.

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President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Homeland Security Adviser and Deputy National Security Adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on June 22, 2021. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

In a June 23 speech, Biden was set to unveil a series of executive orders aimed at reducing violence and to renew his calls for Congress to pass gun legislation, aides said. Ahead of the speech, the Justice Department announced new strike forces aimed at tackling gun trafficking in five cities.

“Yes, there need to be reforms of police systems across the country. The president is a firm believer in that,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on June 22.

“But there are also steps he can take as president of the United States to help address and hopefully reduce that crime. A big part of that, in his view, is putting in place gun safety measures … using the bully pulpit but also using levers at his disposal as president.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From NTD News

Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps