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Baltimore Officials Launch 'War Room' To Combat Crime Spike

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A violent weekend in Baltimore as city officials launch what they're calling a special "war room" to coordinate their response to the crime surge.

Derek Valcourt explains what the war room is and what they hope to accomplish.

Officials at City Hall will be discussing the idea in more detail as they roll out a series of public forums to discuss the crime problems plaguing the city.

The Belair Edison neighborhood is the site of Baltimore's latest broad daylight murder Monday afternoon.

"Heard about 10 gunshots and came around the corner, saw a guy laying there dead on the porch," said Jeff Jenkins.

The murder here brings the city's homicide total so far this year to 168. City residents are frustrated.

"I think it's been out of control and it's getting progressively worse," said Kat Hays.

In response to the surge in crime, interim City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis joined with other local and federal law officials this weekend to announce the creation of a special war room where Baltimore police leaders will sit at the table with local officials from the mayor's office and city state's attorney's office, and also federal partners from the local US attorney's office, the FBI, the DEA, the ATF and the US Marshal's Service.

Davis says the team will target four groups, including gangs.

"The idea to literally come together and put desk next to desk and line up across from each other and look each other in the eyes as we identify these four larger investigations going on in the city will put us in the position to win," Davis said.

"You have to have the federal partners there," said Doug Ward, a policing expert.

Ward says while these agencies have worked together in the past, this kind of approach will help streamline intelligence gathering and sharing.

"The federal partners bring a lot of stiffer penalties and racketeering charges and longer sentences," Ward said. "Not to mention the resources. It takes a lot of resources to run these cases, and so the more the merrier."

So far, officials haven't said where the "war room" will be located.

As of Monday morning, there have been more than 320 separate shooting incidents in the city so far this year.

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