BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City’s Acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle is transferring 115 officers and 11 sergeants to patrol positions as the city experiences a wave of violence.
There have been 15 murders in the first 11 days of July, although shootings and killings are down from last year. The city is still on pace to have close to 300 murders by the end of the year.
“With the crime fight being the priority, we see the need to move these personnel,” Tuggle said. He said the move was “no shell game” but acknowledged “there’s an opportunity cost with this” as these officers are shifted from other positions.
Tuggle said the Citywide Shooting Unit would add officers, and no one would be taken from the Homicide Division. He noted the shift would add officers to patrol in all districts, with the largest increase in the Northeast District.
Police estimate the number of vacant posts on each shift should decrease from 18 to 4.
“We recognized we needed an increased presence on the street,” Tuggle said.
Mayor Catherine Pugh also spoke of the number of officers on sick leave. She said leaders were “tightening up that process because we find some of these folks are just out too long.”
She did not give a timetable on when she would find a permanent commissioner. Tuggle has been serving in the role of top cop since the abrupt resignation of Darryl De Sousa amid federal tax charges in May.
The transfer of officers should be complete by Sunday, but it still leaves BPD hundreds of officers short of being fully staffed.
One of the most high-profile crimes in recent days was the shooting of 7-year-old Taylor Hayes off Edmondson Avenue.
An unknown person shot her while she was in the backseat of a car July 5. She continues to recover in the hospital.
At the press conference to discuss patrol staffing, Tuggle said police were “aggressively pursuing the case” and would “leave no stone unturned.” He offered no substantive update on the investigation.
Mayor Pugh called the crime “unconscionable” and lamented the number of guns on Baltimore’s streets.
Anyone with information on Hayes’ shooting can call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-7-LOCKUP.