It’s been a rough year fighting crime in Baltimore’s Northern District.
But Maj. Sabrina Tapp-Harper said the spike in violent crime in North Baltimore can largely be blamed on the activity of gangs.
"We suspect that there’s some involvement from BGF [Black Guerrilla Family] and the Bloods, but [I’m not] being any more specific than that right now. We’re just really keeping an eye on these players," Tapp-Harper said.
Entering the last month of the year, the district has already experienced more than double the homicides last year and nearly twice the three-year average.
According to the latest available Comstat figures, which were updated through Saturday, the district has suffered 24 homicides this year compared to 12 last year. Between 2009 through 2011 the district averaged 13 homicides a year.
The increase in homicides is not the only disturbing jump in crime this year in the Northern District. Shootings, which former Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld often said was the true measure of the city’s violence, are up by 31 percent.
Also the number of total robberies in the district have shot up 15 percent from the previous year. A large portion of that increase can be attributed to the 120 percent increase in commercial robberies in the district.
In total, part one crime—the most serious crimes committed—is up in the district 2 percent year to date.
Despite the sharp rise in violent crime, Tapp-Harper said an initiative from recently appointed Police Commissioner Anthony Batts to put more administrative officers on the street has been a big help, and that she expects things to get better heading into the new year.
"I’m pretty optimistic that we have a handle on it and I’ll really expect that we’ll have some improvements," Tapp-Harper said.
But Councilman Bill Henry, who represents North Baltimore along the Greenmount Avenue and York Road corridor where much of the violent crime has occurred, said the police department's power to stop crime only goes so far.
He said the city needs to focus on the upbringing of its youth.
"At the end of the day we need to stop raising criminals and that is the point I won’t let go of," Henry said.