BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and Police Commissioner Darryl De Sousa updated violence reduction efforts in the city through the first quarter of the year Wednesday.
Mayor Pugh said, overall, violent crime is down this year in Baltimore, but police are dealing with some high-profile shootings, including a brazen home invasion that ended with two women dead before noon Wednesday.
They also talked about recruiting new police officers and adding new technology.
There have been 32 fewer shootings in Baltimore than at this time last year, and 18 fewer murders, but in the city, things can change quickly.
Two women were murdered on Gorman Avenue in West Baltimore after they were shot by several men who kicked in their back door.
It happened after the mayor and police commissioner spoke about a 20-percent reduction in the most violent crimes in the city compared to this time in 2017.
“You’re never safe,” said Donald Wardell, who lives steps from the murder scene. “That’s terrible. They were shot in their own home.”
Commissioner De Sousa acknowledged that even with successes, Baltimore still struggles with violence.
“We are definitely trending in the direction we want,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
He spoke about the department’s new predictive policing strategy, which uses computer algorithms to station police in hot spots.
Officers witnessed a shootout Tuesday in a troubled East Baltimore block, and then pursued the suspects to Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Wolf Street entrance.
They’ve arrested and charged five people in the case.
“What’s ironic is we actually talked about that same area yesterday morning before it even occurred,” De Sousa said. “So we know where the areas are that we need to strategically put resources and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Despite the high-profile shootings over the previous 24 hours, police say, overall, shootings are down 23 percent compared to last year and murders are down 25 percent. Numbers that were released before the double murder Wednesday morning.
The commissioner said the city is losing fewer police officers; 14 a month, compared to 25 a month last year. The department is still in need of police officers but several academy classes that are about to graduate should add about 150 new members to the police force.