- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

ANNAPOLIS (AP) Recent shootings in the state's capital have left a small police force with an unprecedented caseload, Police Chief Joseph S. Johnson said.
The Annapolis Police Department, which has no homicide detectives and only eight criminal investigators, has two open homicide cases and two unsolved attempted murders.
"We're just not accustomed to having one investigation run right into another," said Chief Johnson, who joined the department 11 years ago. "Obviously, our resources are stretched thin."
In addition to the high-profile fatal carjacking in the Historic District Sept. 19, police are investigating the fatal shooting of a man at a local American Legion hall Aug. 10 and two recent near-fatal shootings.
Last year the city saw four homicides up from two in 2000.
Despite the new cases, Chief Johnson said eight detectives are enough for a city of about 36,000 residents. The department's 110 officers are trained in crime-scene investigation, so patrol officers often chip in with witness interviews and canvassing, he said.
They can even follow up on leads, said Officer Hal Dalton, a 25-year veteran. The chief called the open investigations "a juggling act," with detectives shifting from case to case to follow fresh leads.
Straughan Lee Griffin, 51, was killed in what appears to be a carjacking outside his home in the Historic District. Some police detectives have worked as many as 36 hours straight hoping to crack that case, Officer Dalton said.
Detectives have pooled together to work on the four open violent crime cases, he said. The criminal investigation section usually is split into a unit for property crimes and a unit for crimes against people.
Meanwhile, an arrest warrant for attempted murder was issued early last week for a suspect in the Sept. 21 shooting of Craig McKelle Ireland.
Another shooting three days later injured Carlester Sellman Jr., 21. He gave nicknames and descriptions of his attackers, and detectives believe the case will be solved soon, Officer Dalton said.
But the second homicide, at the American Legion hall on Forest Drive may be more difficult to solve. Police charged a 22-year-oldman, but prosecutors dropped the charges because of a lack of evidence.

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