BALTIMORE (WBFF) – The Baltimore Police Department (BPD) and the State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) of Baltimore City are creating a team of prosecutors and detectives specializing in catching violent, gun-toting criminals.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and BPD Commissioner Kevin Davis called a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to announce the formation of the Gun Violence Enforcement Division. The team will focus on repeat offenders who use guns to commit violent crimes, and comprise a police sergeant, four “elite” BPD detectives and prosecutors from the SAO.
The Gun Violence Enforcement Division will be responsible for ensuring police and prosecutors collect the necessary amount of intelligence to successfully apprehend, charge and convict violent suspects.
Davis said the team will ensure that each gun-involved case it targets “is at the highest, highest quality, so when it gets into a courtroom we can have a successful resolution.”
In the joint announcement, Mosby delved into her views on the common trend of gun violence that plagues Baltimore City and the causes behind some of the violent crime.
“As a mother, as a resident of west Baltimore and as the chief prosecutor, it’s extremely disheartening to see thegun violence that plagues our communities,” she said.
Listing off statistics -- 445 shootings and 117 homicides linked to firearms in 2016 -- and the wide age range of victims -- 4, 6 and 90, as examples -- Mosby said the city must take new measures.
“What are we going to do about it?” she posed, before announcing the creation of the new unit.
Mosby said BPD and the SAO have already worked together to identify 602 individuals on a “trigger-puller list” and have whittled it down to identify top offenders in each police district.
Examples of recent cases in which police and prosecutors collaborated to secure convictions include those of Kenneth “Slay” Jones and Darryl Anderson, who committed execution-style murders for the Black Guerrilla Family gang.
Mosby and Davis said the new unit will better coordinate intelligence collection in violent crime investigations to improve the conviction rate, which Mosby said is a “dismal” 22% for non-fatal cases.
Davis called the creation of the new unit a progressive next step for the department to add to its current focus on preventive gun arrests.
“Each and every time we make a gun arrest in Baltimore, even though it’s still a misdemeanor arrest, we look at that arrest as a pre-murder arrest,” Davis said.
Mosby's office is still vetting senior prosecutors and some junior attorneys for the team. Davis said BPD’s detective choices will have plentiful experience with gun arrests and prosecutions, which he noted takes a certain degree of specialization and training.
In addition to the increased focus on coordination between police and prosecutors, Mosby repeated a call from officials for community members to step forward to help catch violent criminals.
“We need the community to ensure that our continual collaboration and the impact of this unit is successful," she said. “The community plays a significant role in changing the trajectory of our city, and this is just another step to eradicate the normalization of violence that far too many of us have become all too accustomed to.”