Mayor Catherine Pugh said the recent spell of zero homicides for 12 days—broken on Tuesday by two murders in Northeast Baltimore—can be attributed to the efforts of the Baltimore Ceasefire campaign and crime-fighting initiatives from Police Commissioner-Designate Darryl De Sousa.
Homicides from Jan. 1 through Feb. 13 are down 36 percent compared to the same time frame in 2017, and non-fatal shootings are down by half, according to stats shared by the mayor’s office Wednesday morning. Incidents of rape, robbery, aggravated assault—all violent crimes—are each down by between 24 and 36 percent, and property crimes ranging from larceny to auto theft have also dropped.
Pugh gave credit to the Ceasefire campaign, which held its third three-day anti-violence push from Feb. 2-4, sparking a nearly two-week period absent of fatal shootings. She also credited the drop to De Sousa’s “blitz” initiative on his first day heading the police department, in which more officers were deployed on the streets every hour, as well as his Violence Reduction Initiative (VRI), which sends more officers to areas of the city with concentrated homicides.
She also credited dozens of organizations and city agencies working in communities, from the Baltimore Black Yoga Initiative and the Living Classrooms Foundation to Safe Streets and the Center for Urban Families.
“All of these efforts, all of these groups, all of these organizations, all of these members of communities have made a big difference in getting us to where we are,” she said.
Pugh tapped De Sousa to replace Kevin Davis as police commissioner on Jan. 19. That same day, two people were killed in the city; 13 others were killed before the end of the month, per The Sun‘s homicide tracker. But February got off to a much better start, and is mostly the biggest reason for the reduction in homicides and shootings so far this year.
Other crime-fighting enhancements are in the works, Pugh said. Those include expanding the number of neighborhoods participating in Safe Streets from four to 10, and using the Bloomberg Foundation’s $5 million grant to install more closed-circuit TVs and gunshot-detection technology on blocks, and to outfit police cars with license plate readers.
De Sousa’s VRI was in action yesterday when two killings happened in a space of less than twelve hours, Pugh said, noting that police dispatched more “troops” to those neighborhoods in Northeast Baltimore.
“If you can drive crime down in those bottom areas, you can drive crime down all over the city,” she said. “The issue is making sure it doesn’t spill over into other areas.”
The mayor noted she’s learning a good deal from working with De Sousa, including the nuances of the drug trafficking business. “There is a difference between a cocaine drug shop, a marijuana drug shop and a heroin drug shop.”
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