BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the face of several high-profile homicides and an “unacceptable” level of violence, six members of the Baltimore City Council’s budgeting committee called on the Baltimore Police Department to deliver a short-term crime plan and deploy more officers into neighborhoods.
Councilman Eric Costello, chair of the Ways & Means Committee, pointed to the murders of 17-year-old Jasmine Brunson, killed on the night of his junior prom, and 38-year-old Angel Smith, who was seven months pregnant, and her fiancé, and a midday shooting where 60 rounds were fired, leaving one man dead and three injured.READ MORE: 1 Dead After Boat Hit-And-Run On Magothy River, Police Search For Boat Driver
“Look, the only agency that can impact things immediately is the Baltimore Police Department,” said Costello, flanked by committee members Sharon Green Middleton, Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer and Robert Stokes, and council members Mark Conway and Antonio Glover.
In a letter to police, the lawmakers placed a deadline of June 3 for a crime plan responding to recent violence, four days before top brass are scheduled to appear before the committee as part of the budgeting process.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is we need foot patrol in these areas, cars riding in this area, not three days after or week after,” said Middleton, vice president of the council. “We need consistency, and that’s not that’s not happening now.”
Baltimore is on pace for more than 350 homicides in 2022, and for the first time, more than 100 people were killed by the start of May, Costello said.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Storms Possible
But he made sure to say the call for a plan is not a rebuke of the ways Mayor Brandon Scott is attempting to address the root causes of violence.
“Those root causes specifically revolve around inadequate K-12 public education and a lack of economic opportunity. Those are the reasons that we have crime in the city,” Costello said. “And I don’t think there is anyone on the council that disagrees with attacking those issues with a sense of urgency, but we also have to address the issue of crime that is plaguing our community right now.”
The committee also sent letters to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office about staffing shortages and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement about the “lack of demonstrable progress” on the agency’s Group Violence Reduction Strategy and persistent outages of Citiwatch cameras, Costello said.
Of the more than 800 cameras stationed around the city, about 755 are managed by the office, and roughly 17% of them are out at any given time, according to Costello.MORE NEWS: Early Voting For Maryland Primary Begins
“I think that we certainly understand that there are technical challenges along the way,” he said.” But 17, 18%, which is approximately 130 cameras, is not an acceptable rate of outage to have in the city.”