- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 27, 2002

BALTIMORE (AP) In the wake of 24 killings in less than a month, police have authorized more than 2,000 hours of overtime this weekend so that twice as many officers will be on nighttime patrol in the city's most violent police districts.

Twenty more officers each will be on the streets this weekend in the eastern, western and southwestern districts during the high-crime hours of 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. Those districts have seen drastic increases in crime this year, particularly in the past month.

"We need to bring an immediate halt to the escalating violence in these three districts," Deputy Police Commissioner John McEntee said.

Based on past salary figures for city police officers, the overtime is likely to cost at least $10,000 a night.

The increased patrols began Wednesday and will last through the weekend, Mr. McEntee said. The department, which typically splits each day into three shifts, has extended two shifts to 12 hours so that the third shift is doubled at night.

Stopping city violence has gained a new sense of urgency in the past month with the killings of two dozen persons, including three children. The past two weeks have seen the shooting of a 10-year-old boy hit by stray gunfire on his porch, a shooting that left three young children with bullet wounds, the death of a 15-year-old who is believed to have been shot for trying to steal a bicycle, and the death of a 13-year-old in a drive-by shooting in West Baltimore.

The three districts receiving the increased patrols have accounted for 52 of the city's 72 shootings in the four-week period ending today, Mr. McEntee said. On Wednesday night, when the increased force went into effect, only one shooting was reported in those districts, he said.

The increased units are temporary, however, mostly because of the cost. Mr. McEntee estimated that the department will have to pay officers 500 to 600 hours of overtime each night.

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