After dismantling special operations units throughout the Baltimore Police Department amid a patrol shortage and a high-profile gun squad scandal four months ago, Commissioner Kevin Davis has reassigned more than 150 police officers and supervisors back onto similar teams, reports the Baltimore Sun.
The 21 new “District Action Teams” — two for each of the city’s nine police districts, plus one each for the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor, the Monument Street corridor, and the Tri-District area — began deploying this week amid the city’s ongoing violent crime crisis and intense debates about how to best address it.
The city marked its 200th homicide on Wednesday, putting Baltimore on track to reach or exceed the historic highs of 344 and 318 homicides in 2015 and 2016, respectively. As of July 15, the date through which citywide data is available, robberies were up 15% and aggravated assaults were up 18%. Burglaries were up 7%.
The new operations teams will serve in uniform rather than plainclothes like many of their predecessors, and will report directly to district commanders rather than central command. They will not interact with informants directly or conduct surveillance, but will work with other intelligence and undercover units to target repeat violent offenders and provide commanders with critical response capabilities beyond the scope of patrol units, Davis said.
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