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Police Prepare To Ensure Safe Fourth Of July Night In Downtown Baltimore Area

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Over the next few hours, thousands of people will head downtown to celebrate the Fourth of July. That has Baltimore police taking new security measures.

Adam May has more on what visitors should expect.

Police are expecting a few hundred thousand people downtown, and they’re trying some new tactics to keep all of them safe.

Fourth of July celebrations at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor attract tourists from across the country and even overseas.

“We came up to see the festivities, the fireworks, the fun,” said Joe Mills, tourist.

WJZ met tourists from South Carolina, Lancaster, Pa. and Belfast.

May: “What do you like about coming for Fourth of July?”

Mom: “Teaching them about the history of Baltimore.”

“We’ve been to Baltimore before, but not this time of year,” one tourist said.

Even with this prolonged heat wave, police are bracing for 200,000 visitors.

But last year, as fireworks lit up the sky, violence erupted in the crowd, including fights.

A man was fatally stabbed by a broken bottle and a 4-year-old boy was hit in the leg by a stray bullet.

“We don’t want anyone getting hurt. We didn’t want to see that page come across last year for that innocent 4-year-old kid.  That’s ridiculous,” said Anthony Barksdale, acting police commissioner.

The city’s new acting police commissioner says this year, new fencing will help them control people coming and going from the event.

In addition to that parameter, police are changing the way officers are deployed, using GPS technology to track foot patrols and calling in more help from other police agencies.

“A couple of months ago we started to crackdown on the disorderly behavior in the downtown area and we’re not just tolerating it,” said John Skinner, deputy commissioner.

He hopes that will ensure a fun and festive night.

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