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Baltimore Police Commissioner Discusses Violence Spike In City

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- In the midst of crime scenes, police say it's harder to do their jobs. Wednesday, the city's frustrated top cop says officers are being confronted by large groups and cell phone cameras in the wake of the Freddie Gray case.

Christie Ileto has more.

Recorded mayhem at Penn and North exactly one week after riots ripped Baltimore apart. Residents were convinced a cop shot an unarmed man, prompting many to pull out their phones.

It's scenes like this the city's top cop says cripples officers from doing their jobs.

"It makes it very difficult for us to follow up on violence that takes place there. When you have 50 or 60 people there, it makes it difficult to get eyewitnesses," said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. "It makes it difficult to get information that's out there."

Residents are quick to document after Freddie Gray's April arrest, highlighting chronic distrust of police.

"If you don't record, it's your word against theirs," said Shawn Cain.

All this comes as a surge in violence sweeps across Baltimore. There have been 14 shootings in 24 hours, the most recent homicide on Saratoga Street.

"We need the police," said William Scipio. "No child should be afraid of coming outside to play."

Scipio heads Sandtown's Resident Action Committee. He has one way to restore trust.

"Before an officer gets a badge, a uniform or a shield, they should be required to do community service in a neighborhood they're going to service," he said.

There have been 51 shootings so far this year in the Western District alone, 19 of them murders---that's dramatically outpacing all other districts.

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