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Impact of Baltimore Violence: Repeat Offenders Being Charged In Killings, Carjackings Soar More Than 60 Percent

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore police are dealing with a rise in carjackings and shootings.

At a public safety hearing this week, Eric Costello, a member of the city council told the commissioner, "Right now, people do not feel safe in the communities where they live and work."

Statistics from police show of the 32 people arrested for homicide this year, 16 are repeat violent offenders. There have also been 32 non-fatal shooting arrests this year. 11 are repeat, violent offenders.

Police have been able to close 54.4 percent of homicides. That is up from 31.6 percent in 2019. It is still below the national average.

There has also been a rise in shootings with multiple victims, like the one earlier this week near Johns Hopkins Hospital: 67 compared to 41 at this time last year.

It comes as police are understaffed. "We are critically short in every part of the agency," Commissioner Michael Harrison said.

Police are trying a more holistic approach.

"Our efforts have to translate into the offender making different decisions, but that's not just a policing alone task," the commissioner told council members.  "As we begin to reach these at-risk individuals..I think we're poised to see progress in the very near future."

Daniel Webster is part of the new Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions. He notes an increase in shootings nationwide.

"Lots of guns and a lot of social distress that leads to more grievances and hostilities that people can easily pick up a gun and resolve them in that manner," Webster said.

The center looks at the effectiveness of programs like Safe Streets, touted by the mayor, where people from the community try to mediate disputes before they turn violent.

"What's exciting for Baltimore and other cities, there's more investment in this type of intervention," Webster noted.

On stopping gun violence, his colleague Josh Horwitz said, "We need new, innovative strategies—and at the center, that's what we're trying to do. We are trying to find those strategies. We're trying to get them into the right people's hands, and then we're trying to evaluate them."

Many people WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren has talked to over the past few months in Baltimore are frightened—and demanding action now.

The Northwestern District is leading the city in homicides, with 16 compared to 10 at this time last year.

For shootings, the Southern District has seen the most with 33, compared to 18 last year.

Residential robberies are up more than 21 percent and carjackings are up more than 66 percent over last year to 136.

A Johns Hopkins trauma surgeon was shot Friday morning while fleeing an attempted carjacking in northeast Baltimore. He made it out with no serious injuries, officials said.

Many of the violent crimes involve young, repeat offenders.

Deputy Commissioner Sheree Briscoe talked about the most recent arrests, "Of those 23 individuals, 16 of them were previously arrested within the last year so that means there is a gap or an added challenge with some of our young people and those that are offending, getting back out and reoffending."

Rape is down more than 27 percent this year and street robberies are down almost 11 percent.

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